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ULaw students face exam notes headache after proctoring switch

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Exclusive: Law school says it’s looking to resolve issues as soon as possible

The University of Law’s (ULaw) decision to switch online proctoring providers weeks before core exams for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) take place has caused frustration among some students who claim they’ve not been given enough time to prepare and adapt to the changes.

ULaw switched providers this month and LPC students appear to face issues with their ability to access online materials during the exams which are less than two weeks away.

The university switched to open book exams in response to the coronavirus meaning that students are, in theory, able to access hard and soft copy textbooks and notes during their assessments.

Legal Cheek understands that the new provider does not allow external programs to be opened, and so students will be unable to access online versions of their textbooks as they had done so under the old remote proctoring service. ULaw had given all students hard copy textbooks at the start of the course but this creates problems for some who, for example, travelled back home ahead of the lockdown, and no longer have these to hand.

The change of provider has also meant their ability to access notes and search within documents for certain keywords is no longer available. The only way to access their notes during the exams is to copy and paste them into an online document viewer which students say throws out the formatting and means they cannot search within their notes.

“We now need to spend several hours re-organising several thousands of words of notes during time which would ideally have been free for exam preparation,” one concerned student told us.

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The university advised students that the change of provider was necessary to enable them to complete their exams within the course timeframe. It would have taken up to ten weeks to deliver the core exams under the previous service instead of the two weeks they had timetabled.

A ULaw spokesperson said:

“We have moved our proctoring service to a new provider to ensure that all students can complete their assessments within the course timeframe. We are aware of the issues students are facing, at what is a particularly challenging time, and we are working with them to resolve these as soon as possible.”

ULaw further advised students without hard copies or access to a printer to come into campus to make use of the printing facilities there, and that they would not be charged for doing so. If they’re unable or would prefer not to travel to campus, the university agreed to reimburse students up to the amount of £100 for printing costs.

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67 Comments

Thomas C

The problem with the switch is mainly the notes journal on Blackboard. It means that students can no longer access their notes on a word document which they have been making since the start of the course. We have to copy and paste it into a journal which doesn’t 100% match the original formatting.

The point of an open book exam is that you should be able to access your notes on a digital form in a way that you can actually use the notes.

Nobody is going to use the notes journal on blackboard.

All of my fellow coursemates including myself have instead decided to print out all notes but it is difficult for students who have spent the last few months getting used to finding their way around their word docs to now having to switch to a paper method at the very last minute.

Ulaw has imposed restrictions so that students are unable to Control F through their notes. It is going to be impossible to scroll back and forth through so many pages of notes just to find the specific topic and workshop and it is simply a way for them to encourage students to rely on paper notes instead. It’s just not practical to use.

I can’t see how it is cheating control F searching the notes document. As if them getting rid of the Copy and Paste setting was not enough.

I think it is great that they have gotten rid of ProctorU but this needs some adjustment.

James L

How can Ulaw call it an open book exam when they don’t allow students to use their own documents notes from word, don’t allow students to Control F search their documents and disable the copy and paste feature.

What else is left? Paper based notes with hundred pages to flick through is really unhelpful

Anon

If it was going to take 10 weeks to hold the exams using the original proctoring provider, why did they opt to use that provider in the first place? To only realise this 3 and a half weeks before exams start is staggeringly incompetent.

Lewis

The truth is that Ulaw didn’t change the software because they genuinely care about the students and listened to their concerns.

They switched from ProctorU to Respondus because they couldn’t find enough spies sorry I meant stalkers ooops I meant to say ~proctors~ to watch every single student and they admitted that in an email they sent out to the students.

It was another error on behalf of their management. They were unable to book enough proctors within the time to carry out the exams accordingly to cater to every single student so they had no choice but to switch to this.

Jonathan

The LPC is supposed to prepare you for the training contract.

I can’t imagine any law firm expecting it’s trainees to carry out tasks without any proper access to their digital notes, not being able to Control F search documents and not being to Copy and Paste your own notes.

They say they want to prepare us for the TC and life as a lawyer but we wouldn’t be expected to memorise everything off the top of our heads. It’s just not realistic and not practical at all for a PrAcTicAl course.

Duncan M

As someone not affected directly but who remembers the stress leading up to exams of this nature I am appalled at the lack of regard that such a fundamental change must have involved. Moral decency dictates that the university does everything it can to minimise the impact of a change they are enforcing on their students. Exceptions can be made and are be made for some students but the vast majority are just being trampled over. Shame on you ULaw. Your reputation is at stake and time is running out to do the right thing.

Gregg

The complete and utter audacity of Ulaw to tell us since the start of the course that we don’t need to memorise everything because it is an open book exam and we just need to make detailed notes and be able to locate everything…

ONLY for them to turn around at the very last minute and tell us we cannot use the notes we have made all year in a word document and have to copy and paste it into some crappy journal which doesn’t even keep the same formatting.

Oh and we can’t even locate the workshops and topics in our notes using Control F and we cannot use the CtrlC and CtrlV functions either.

So basically we DO have to memorise everything because we don’t get the features of an open book exam unless we have hundreds of paper based notes which we have to flick through as if we are taking an exam in 1978.

Reagan

I very much remember almost all my Tutors throughout the course telling me that we don’t need to memorise everything but we just need to make good enough notes that we can locate in a word doc.

And now in the revision lectures they changed their tone and were like “you have to remember everything inside out like a closed book exam” as they were probably told by those higher up that we can only use our notes if we copy and paste it into the journal which they know most students won’t use

Warren

Snap!

My tutors all said the same thing only to then at the end of the teaching for the CPAs be like well you have to learn everything off by heart now and memorise it like a closed book exam as you won’t have the full privileges of an open book exam.

Excuse me wot??? Talk about 0 to 100

Coleen

Would you have been able to search in an exam room?

Wayne

They made the online exams harder and there is more content to cover that is examinable because they’re being sat online and not in an exam hall.

So it’s necessary to have the search setting in an online exam because there is much more to know whereas it’s not as necessary in an in person exam room.

Anon

Ulaw acknowledged that they have made the exams harder because they are not being sat in an exam hall but online so it makes no sense that they have kept the same paper based notes format and don’t allow students to access their own notes document.

They have made it so that “everything is examinable” now because we have access to all our notes online – except that we don’t.

They have made the MCQs harder too.

Joe

Who comes up with these software names?

Examplify and now Respondus

Sounds like Harry Potter spells or something

Janet W

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSem-cxdO6_lY4EtJSl2Tz22FPh_hQPh3loFOx3C1JJj_ozm_g/viewform

This is a petition to ask for a 2 week extension in light of Ulaw’s unfair treatment of the student body. Given that the change was announced so close to the exams students are requesting a 2 week extension. ULaw students who would like an extension might considering signing this so as to show ULaw that there is support for this.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSem-cxdO6_lY4EtJSl2Tz22FPh_hQPh3loFOx3C1JJj_ozm_g/viewform

ULaw Student

Maybe spend more time revising than creating petitions

Rupert

Maybe stop spending so much time coming back and forth to a comments section and start revising

Ulaw student

Encouraging students to go into university to print? Is that even legal in the current climate?

David

So many students caught covid from the university campuses.

Several students in my class got it luckily I switched to streaming just before I clocked on to the infestation.

Archibald Pomp O'City

You mean “epidemic”, not infestation.

They Call Me Mr Boomerbastic

And by “university campuses” for many means “illegal parties which we attended without due consideration for the community as whole”. They got together, got drunk, got covid and were all sent home. THEN they moaned about not being at classes and demanded “safety net” degrees.

Meanwhile on planet Earth

No detriment degree = not worth the paper it is written on. Be careful what you wish for.

Gangit

I don’t think they’re encouraging us to go in they’re just giving us the option if we haven’t got printers

Future Trainee Manchester

I really wish law firms would override the government and SRA and get rid of the LPC grade requirements in the training contract.

It’s been an terribly stressful year especially for us students who have had COVID-19 and experienced symptoms of long covid which lasted for at least a couple months.

The pressure of having to pass everything first time and get a certain grade when you are trying to recover from COVID has been hell. I know it’s a privileged position to be in to even have a TC but I honestly wish people were more considerate during this time.

Ellis

The main problem this will cause is that open book exams are marked harshly for the sole reason that they are open book.

But with the blackboard journal on the new software it means students will have to rely on paper based notes or mostly memory which turns it into a closed book exam essentially. Unless they choose to use the blackboard notes which from the consensus seems unlikely.

At least with a closed book exam you get marked leniently. However, students will end up worse off because they will have to memorise to the same extent of a closed book exam but their answers will be marked to an open book standard.

Archibald Pomp O'City

Ooooh no! Only the best will get through – those who can recall at will, walking like Gods among those who can only search for their notes. No more crappy lawyers who get their degree by paying their fees! And tfft

Real World Calling

Shit happens. Get on with it, there is plenty of time.

Reece

Bet you’re fun at parties

Real World Calling

Those would be the parties where I am introduced as a real lawyer not a moaning wannabe one griping over an easy exam.

Jasmine

Wow, you’re an arrogant sod aren’t you. Good luck as a ‘real lawyer’ (whatever that means) in the real world with that attitude. I mean, what sane and normal person calls themselves ‘Real world calling’, absolutely delusional 😅 You’re one of them who has to boast about how ‘amazing’ they are because in reality you’re shit. If you’re that amazing you would be focusing on your own studies with a humble attitude and not worrying about everyone else so pipe down.

Real World Calling

“Focusing on (my) studies”? Do you mean looking at the qualifications on the wall of my office, being a real lawyer who makes real decisions about who gets jobs? My moniker reflects the views of many employers, COVID is an excellent practical test of candidate resilience. Candidates can show they buckled down and got on with what was thrown at them or they can choose the snowflake route. Which route to choose is up to individuals, just as which applicants get jobs is up to employers.

Ellis A

I don’t understand why the SRA won’t allow them to turn all the exams into coursework based assessment.

Besides from interviewing and advocacy of course.

ULaw is a Joke

See, this is why I silently champion SQE and the new prep course providers. I know that there is a lot of stupidity surrounding SQE and that there is unfortunately a strong likelihood that ULaw and BPP will retain their regency, but… a girl can dream. And in my dreams, they go bust and no one wants to pay their extraordinary fees in exchange of messy organisation and complete “we-don’t-care-just-pay-us” attitude that those two LPC exhibit.
I’ll happily dance on ULaw’s grave.

Turnaround

So you think there won’t be errors in SQE papers and the new prep course providers won’t make mistakes. International travel is currently banned but just for information, the country of Utopia doesn’t exist. Careful what you wish for.

Law student

Anyone else considering whether this along with releasing the wrong exam paper back in January is enough to warrant a breach of the implied term reasonable care and skill?

#breachofcontract #damages

Dom

This is just another mess up in a long string of mess ups.

Ulaw have been beyond incompetent which is highly ironic considering they determine whether or not students are yet competent.

Ulaw student

One word =pandemic

David

Two words = piss off

Ben W

“Dear Students

Some of the more eagle-eyed students would have spotted the typo in the CPA guidance yesterday – the number of questions for Conduct should be 30 not 20.

Kind regards

Assessments Office”

This was an actual email from Ulaw this past week.

Raj

At least they told you!

Jasmine

You think we can’t tell from the time of the reply comments that you’re pretending to be both ‘Gurjit’ and ‘Raj’

Lol says a lot if you can’t say it in your actual name penchod. Get a grip you keyboard warrior

Eric

Wow you really do have an exciting life to see what time people are commenting. I hope you’re as meticulous at revising! Good luck, you’re going to need it

Eric

Wow you really do have an exciting life to see what time people are commenting. I hope you’re as meticulous at revising

Reece

Your life doesn’t seem any more exciting to be spamming the same comments twice lol

Quinn G

They only told us when it was brought to their attention by a student.

The same way they only realised they released the wrong exam paper when it was brought to their attention by a student.

And also the same as all of their other errors.

Ulaw isn’t a 3 year old child, it’s an SRA regulated university and course provider which should have better management.

Eric

Your life doesn’t seem any more exciting to be spamming the same comments twice twice

Lily P

I have every admiration for the staff at ULaw. We are in a pandemic and as far as I can see they’re doing there best in the circumstances. I actually prefer the online streaming and think we get more value for money. Online exams are way easier and much better than sitting in a room full of covid. Stay safe guys

Gurjit

Just stating a fact, what’s the problem???

Gurjit

How many answers have you typed and then amended smart ass

Eric

Oh stfu

Anonymous

This comment is underrated

Isaac B

DO NOT SELF FUND THE LPC!!!

IT TRULY IS NOT WORTH IT

Mr Quiet

Don’t shout. You come over as a right tool.

Cicero

BPP LPC students haven’t had any access to soft materials/control f for any of the core exams. What’s as ridiculous as this last minute change is the fact that different LPC providers are allowed to have such wide ranging policies when it comes to ‘open book’ exams.

I’m with you ULaw folk, it’s ridiculous to allow notes in an exam but only in a hard copy format, but spare a thought for us BPP students who haven’t known anything other than the horrors of frantically flicking through 1000 pages of chapter handouts in the middle of a Property Law and Practice exam!

Ulaw student

Ulaw exams are harder because they are fully open book and they are marked more harshly on that basis.

You can’t compare BPP to Ulaw on that basis alone.

That’s why it’s unfair not to allow the full features of open book online exam to students taking an open book exam.

playing devils advocate

In the exam hall you’d have no control F with an open book exam

Nice try, but you missed the point.

Ulaw acknowledged that they have made the exams harder because they are not being sat in an exam hall but online so it makes no sense that they have kept the same paper based notes format and don’t allow students to access their own notes document.

They have made it so that “everything is examinable” now because we have access to all our notes online – except that we don’t.

They have made the MCQs harder too.

Gurjit

“They’ve made the MCQs harder too” and you know this for a fact do you? Evidence?

Rory

Ulaw have themselves admitted this.

The MCQs used to be closed book because they were easy questions that you could learn off the top of your head. It used to be only knowledge based questions.

However, they have now changed the MCQ assessment style because the questions now all have a scenario and it’s not just based on knowledge but application too. So we have to take longer time reading and understanding what the scenario is getting at and then try to apply it which is harder than just a simple knowledge and fact based MCQ.

There is the evidence. Why don’t you actually try to form a valid opinion and understanding before questioning that other people are simply lying.

Lauren

This is a fact because Ulaw and all the tutors and the revision and consolidation lectures all confirmed it.

Law student

I really don’t understand the issue. We’ve been told all along that you can bring in a lever arch file of notes into the exam as if you were taking it in the exam hall.

Print out your notes and do the exam? Why you expect the luxury of being able to cntrl F your notes when you couldn’t in usual conditions I dont know. Unless you’ve been told thats the case…which I never have been.

I really don’t think having to print your notes is that big of a deal. Remember, you’re getting an extra hour for CPAs anyway.

Rob

This is incorrect. There is 30 minutes extra but that is to account for any technical problems which Ulaw exams seem to have a lot of.

Nice way to downplay the situation punk

anon

Incorrect. It’s actually an extra 1:15. If you compare the specimen DR paper for the old format and the revised version students have access to for Respondus you’ll see they’ve reduced the effective marks from 80 to circa 55 on a question by question comparison.

Extrapolating outwards on a mark per minute basis this number of marks should take 2 hours under the old format and we now have 3:15. HTH

Tim

This makes no sense you’re just waffling a lot of crap

Ulaw student

What future lawyer says ‘punk’ #youre going to fail

BPP hater

Ulaw get 3 hrs for CPA exams, BPP had 2 . Ulaw has been studying CPA since Sept to March, BPP only Sept to Dec.

So despite Ulaw sounding absolutely crap, I still wish my firm chose them.

Trying to make peace

While I definitely understand the students’ side, there’s something to be said for adaptability. LPC students are future lawyers – we have to be resilient under pressure and flexible. Tough changes and unfair deadlines are something we’ll constantly have to cope with.

The uni has done the best they can to resolve these issues – they’ve even found a work-around for using Ctrl-F (which would not have been available on an in-person exam), and have allowed students to defer their sitting of these exams until June.

At this point, let’s just stop complaining about something that can’t be changed, and start hitting the books.

Jamie W

the jig is up Ulaw, you can stop pretending to be a student now

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