Students from multiple facilities say they experienced technical issues with Inspera, causing them to lose exam time. But in many cases, the University of Auckland has not granted aegrotat or compassionate consideration or a grade raise.
Last year, it was reported that students taking the Part II Law of Torts paper lost up to an hour and a half of exam time due to technical glitches. But this was not just seen in Auckland’s Law School. Multiple students told Craccum that despite not being able to access their papers, resulting in a delayed start, the examinations office rejected their application for a grade change. The University of Auckland started using the Inspera online assessment platform during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspera has been criticised for accessibility and technical issues.
One student, Nikita, could not access both her stage three Criminology and Sociology exams and had to wait ten minutes to get support. “I was just in shock because I was already stressed for the exam and then the issues just put me so on edge, I was bordering on a panic attack which I’m prone to.”
Nikita was approved for compassionate consideration, but was told her application was not sufficient to amount to a grade rise. “I didn’t take it any further because I had already just passed so I was grateful and didn’t want to waste my holidays arguing my points for a grade raise.”
Law student Michelle told Craccum the problems with Inspera need to be addressed. “The system is not a good fit with essay type law exams.” Michelle had been waiting since last year to see if she would receive a grade bump due to similar problems. At the time of writing this article, she received a grade increase from B- to B+.
Another student, Ola*, who reported issues taking the Law of Torts exam online, told Craccum that the situation took a significant toll on them. “Because of the high academic standard I hold myself to and the (probably excessive) preparation I had done for the exam, the emotional impact of not being able to access the paper and feeling completely powerless was devastating.”
“The call centre staff showed little to no empathy, which did not help my situation, and I was expected to hang up and immediately go into my exam. I definitely feel my performance was hindered due to a failure on the part of the University.” The University denied Ola’s* application for compassionate consideration, stating there were insufficient grounds to raise their final grade.
The examinations office says that applications are considered by a representative of the Senate, with reference to a student’s coursework, academic record in other courses, and an assessment by the University Health Services’. However, there is no stated consideration of technical challenges, something you think boomers would understand.
Ola* says that while they passed the exam, the marks on their transcript do not accurately reflect the work they put in or their capabilities. Ola* has now dropped out of Law, which they say is partially due to the lack of compassion and the response they received from the Law Department and the University.
Student, Theresa, experienced a similar situation taking her exam. “I felt sorry for the student centre and IT staff who fielded my extremely frustrated and grumpy phone calls—they genuinely tried to help. The University did everything they possibly could. But, at the end of the day, failures on the part of the invigilated software meant some students failed papers they otherwise would not have in ‘normal’ exam conditions.”
Theresa was granted an aegrotat pass. But she says that using Inspera has been “terrible”. “My situation had a reasonable ending, but I’m still gutted that my transcript now shows aegrotat pass.”
*Names have been changed to protect students’ identities.