LSVb wants universities to stop using proctoring software

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Most universities have been administering their exams online since the start of the pandemic last March. Students take their in the comfort of their own homes, instead of in a large room monitored by invigilators to prevent cheating.

In their efforts to combat academic misconduct, a number of Dutch institutions of higher education are relying on online invigilation, also known as proctering. Students are required to turn on the camera on their laptops and have their internet traffic monitored. They sometimes also have to turn on the camera on their phones.

In an open letter published earlier this week, the LSVb warned against privacy violations taking place during this type of online surveillance. For example, journalists in Groningen had direct access to exams as they were being taken.

Proctoring also has a number of technical issues. At Erasmus University, no less than 102 exams were declared invalid due to malfunctioning software, although the decision was later rescinded.

The union believes that online proctoring causes excessive stress among students. Besides, there are better alternatives available: “From open-book exams and essays to face-to-face exams that require students to take a rapid corona test first.”

Finally, the LSVb states that institutions that continue to use proctoring will be “showing negligence towards their students”.

The union has scoured the websites of 21 institutions for information about online exams and discovered that only six do not use online proctoring. Asked to mention some examples, the LSVb named the University of Groningen, the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences and the Leiden University of Applied Sciences.

The University of Groningen has experimented with the practice, but abandoned proctoring due to a range of limitations. Sometimes teachers call some of their students to check whether they did indeed take the exams themselves.

Windesheim has refrained from the practice so far but is considering other options. Leiden and Avans were among the first universities of applied sciences to decide not to use online proctoring.