Jane Wilkinson

If someone had told me when I started as Associate Dean Education at the beginning of the first lockdown that I would still be spending so much time on the impact of Covid on the student experience in January 2022, I might have taken the decision to run for the hills.

In retrospect, being in full lockdown was the easy bit, although we did not know that then. Trying to go back to “business as usual” whilst Covid is still very much with us is the much greater challenge. The students are now in the exam period. Our BM6 year 0 and BM4 year 2 students are sitting summative exams whilst BM5 years 1 and 2 students are preparing for formative assessments in person.  We decided last year that we wanted our students to sit in person, invigilated exams with measures in place to mitigate against the risk of infection. We made this decision as our undergraduate students have embarked on an assessment heavy course which will culminate in the new national Medical Licensing Assessment. This will have to be conducted in person and invigilated. It is a high stakes examination forming part of the primary medical qualification.

Last year, our assessments were online. Students expressed concerns about the integrity of the assessments and the reliability of their internet access. It is also important to remember that many of our students in year 0 and year 1 will not have experienced conventional assessments in their last year of secondary education. That is why we felt it essential to give students the experience of assessments held in person as early in their course as possible to give them the best possible preparation for exams in the future.

On a more positive note, we had the year 3 research project conference online for the second year running. This was brilliantly organised by Beth Stuart and Tallis White in the Assessments team. Well done to the students for their presentations and thank you to all the faculty staff who stepped up to be markers and chairs on the day. Perhaps we can look forward to running the conference in 2023 in person?

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the celebrations being organised throughout the academic year to celebrate 50 years of Southampton Medical School. These celebrations are led by our wonderful MedSoc team and showcase the amazing work they do for the faculty and the wider Southampton community. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that the medical school benefits from its location in Southampton and, equally, Southampton benefits from having a medical school as part of the University. Here is a link to the proposed calendar of events which showcases how much our students involve themselves in the local community.

Exams in a Covid world by Professor Jane Wilkinson

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