Why it is essential universities have an online examination system

By Megan Lozicki

Undoubtedly, this generation of students, and a majority of adult learners, are a digital generation. They are used to conducting most of their activities online, and pen and paper are a thing of the past. Students also expect flexibility in schools and workplaces; they want to study and work from a place that makes the most sense for them and from where it doesn’t negatively impact their quality of life. Therefore, universities need to adapt to this demand. We cannot say that it is a new and unexpected demand – it was becoming more prevalent pre-2020, and the pandemic simply accelerated it. 

A key factor in offering students the flexible option is universities providing students a way to take exams online. We discuss some of the risks universities face by not adapting to online exams and some of the opportunities on the table. 

What is a university online examination system? 

A university online examination system is what it sounds like – a way for students to take their university exams and other various assessments online. It allows students and professors to take and proctor the exams remotely, on campus, or have a mixture of both. Since assessment is a critical part of higher education, it is an essential tool to have in place before offering a remote or hybrid experience. 

What universities risk by not having an online examination system

The risks below come from not having an entire digital strategy or a thought-through online learning experience. However, since assessment is such a crucial part of higher education and determining whether or not students have gained sufficient knowledge, not having a way of assessing students online means that the online offering is at risk of not succeeding. 

Lower enrollment rates at universities 

Students are looking for more flexible and affordable options for higher education. Not every student is able or willing to uproot themselves to move to live on campus. It can also be incredibly expensive to do so. Therefore, online and distance learning is the best option for them. 

The downward trend in enrollment rates has many factors, and universities are still trying to sort out the top ones. However, with living expenses as the second highest cost for students after their tuition fees (according to educationdata.org), it should not come as a surprise that not having a remote or hybrid option is one of them. 

Loss in revenue for universities

As a result of lower enrollment rates, universities will inevitably lose revenue. The bigger loss, however, is universities not using this as an opportunity to generate revenue from online offerings. Some universities are embracing change and are capitalizing on the shift. 

“Forward-thinking institutions like the University of Illinois are disrupting the graduate degree market using technology that reduces faculty labor to scale programs to thousands of students at a discounted cost of $22,000 for an entire M.B.A. — leading to the retirement of its traditional residential degree offering.” (Harvard Business Review article, 2020)

Universities should see this as an opportunity to shift and expand their offering to more people and to remain competitive and relevant.  

Why a university online examination system is key to digital strategy

When creating a digital strategy, it is necessary to keep in mind the tools needed to make the offering successful for educators and students. The need for assessment will not disappear. Students will always need to demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter they are studying. Therefore, universities cannot offer an online program without first having an online examination platform.

Award-winning Birmingham City University on Digital exams and Digiexam

Hear more from Maggie Gibson, Head of Learner Development, and Tom Ashmore, Digital Assessment Designer at Birmingham City University. You can also read more here