BY SARAH ARTURI and XENIA SANUT
Monash University has confirmed Examity has been scrapped, adding the sweetener that semester one fail grades will not be recorded on students’ academic transcripts, ending weeks of uncertainty.
Remote exams will instead be conducted on a platform managed by the university, following mounting pressure from the student cohort.
The removal of fail grades from academic transcripts sees Monash University follow the lead of other Melbourne universities and ensures students’ Grade Point Average (GPA) and Weighted Average Mark (WAM) will go unchanged.
Even if students do not fail a unit, they can choose to withdraw from that unit “without academic penalty after they receive their results”.
Student members of the Monash Academic Board James Desmond, Chloe Polglaze and Anouska Khambatta were responsible for creating a report on Examity and grading.
Mr Desmond said they were “always confident and optimistic” meaningful change could occur.
“We’re extremely grateful Monash has listened to its students and made these changes, we never doubted they’d implement policies to help their students,” Mr Desmond said.
He said that while he is happy the board voted in their favour “there is still work to be done”, including the creation of an Academic Safety Net committee.
The committee will comprise staff and students from the board who will then “explore more changes to grading and assessment”, including “an opt in pass/fail grading system”.
“This will ensure students’ WAM and GPA are not adversely and unfairly dragged down by their inability to learn or perform to the best of their abilities,” Mr Desmond said.
Monash University confirmed it will only invigilate exams where it is deemed necessary for academic integrity.
The university is also developing its own platform managed by Monash University staff to invigilate exams, accommodating students' concerns regarding the safety of external eExam software Examity.
Examity was originally listed on the university’s website as a solution to remote exam invigilation, which was removed in late March from the website and then reintroduced in early April.
Since the Academic Board meeting on April 15 that discussed students’ concerns about potential data breaches from Examity, there has been no reference to it on the Monash University website.
Monash Student Association (MSA) President James McDonald said the university would have had to have heard students’ concerns about Examity, after MSA conducted a survey about the software and the university’s grading policy.
“Being able to study hard and do their best during this extremely difficult semester, with the safety policies announced today, is a fantastic win for students,” Mr McDonald said.
“We informed [university officials] of the student perspective based on our survey and ensured that every member of the Board had the opportunity to understand why students felt so strongly about this.”
However, not all students agree removing fail marks from academic transcripts is beneficial.
Masters of Financial Mathematics student Hitesh Punjabi said he believed giving students the ability to fail a unit without suffering consequences can be disadvantageous.
He said the change will not benefit high-achieving students who want to maintain a high academic standard, but may receive low-scoring results that remain on their academic record unless they withdraw from units.
“Having the option of just dropping out if you fail [gives students reason to think]: ‘I feel like I am about to fail this unit, so why bother and try?’,” Mr Punjabi said.
“I feel more needs to be done, this looks like an easy fix.”
Bachelor of Biomedicine student Phoebe Lester said the changes to semester one assessments will help struggling students.
“Students...can redo the unit without having to worry about their scores, but it still lets people who do well keep their grades,” Ms Lester said.
However, she also believes grades should continue to matter in order to ensure students are prepared for the real world.
“We need to be able to adapt in situations and if we can’t then we clearly aren’t ready for the workforce,” she said.