We support the special exam regulations!

Open letter from the student councils of the RWTH Aachen University on the temporary special exam regulations at the university

Dear members of the Rectorate and the Dean of Studies,
dear Professors,
dear Lecturers,
dear Students,

The corona pandemic represents an exceptional and stressful situation for students, teachers and administration alike. A multitude of new regulations for risk minimisation determine our everyday life and require a lot of adaptation. At our university, we have mastered this challenge extremely well so far, thanks to the courageous efforts of many employees in chairs, administration and above all the CLS, and can draw up a positive interim balance.

The forced and abrupt transition to purely digital teaching means a new work rhythm, especially for students, and poses an extra challenge in addition to possible health, family, financial and social burdens. These are differently pronounced in each individual and therefore influence the performance level in its entirety. The temporary special regulations are an important substitute, especially to compensate for the deteriorated interaction possibilities with the chairs. The combination of an increase in the standard period of study and free exam regulations is a leap of faith that offers students the security of being able to make progress in their studies without sanctions despite pandemic-related disadvantages.

Due to the current epidemiological situation and the regulations already issued by the state government, it is expected that winter semester 2020/21 will not allow a return to normality either. Classroom events with a large number of listeners will continue to be banned or the number of participants will be very limited. Small groups, seminars, colloquia, laboratory exercises and other interaction-oriented courses cannot be conducted in the established style. The number of learning spaces available at the RWTH, which allow many students to concentrate on their own studies, will also remain well below the normal level. Particularly for students in their first semester, it is not possible to anticipate the effects of the transition from the negatively affected school graduation year to a study start at RWTH under special auspices.

As student representatives, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the free exam regulation. Many students report that the free exam regulation leads to less exam anxiety, less stress and less unhealthy pressure to perform. Without the risk of a failed attempt, students can now take exams which they would otherwise have cancelled due to the negative accompanying circumstances, and concentrate fully on the exams. Fears of a sharp increase in the number of exam participants have not come true this summer semester. In spite of individual students who want to “exploit” the current regulations to their perceived advantage, the overwhelming majority of students are interested in a successful exam period. By means of a free exam regulation, we can assure for as many students as possible to successfully complete their studies.

Therefore, the supporting student councils advocate a continuation of the free exam regulation in the winter semester 2020/21 in order to support students in all health, family, financial and social situations and to build on the good experiences of the summer semester. We are aware that this scheme can only be an element. Therefore, we would like to continue to work constructively together with lecturers and teaching staff to assure for as many students as possible not only to take part in examinations but also to succeed in times of crisis. Together we can make the best out of this difficult situation and, at least at university level, mitigate the disadvantages of the corona pandemic.

With kind regards

The open letter is supported by the following student councils