One missing table of statistics was all it took for more than 2,000 students to have to retake an examination held last week.
Most of the students affected by the administrative blunder in the Statistics 1 exam on May 7, offered by the University of London (UOL), are from the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
The announcement was all the more a surprise to many of them because invigilators had said the missing table was not an issue.
First-year SIM undergraduate Kenji Seet, 22, said students had realised the table was missing, but had been told to continue. Some of them thought the table, which was needed for a number of questions in the paper, might arrive halfway through the exam.
It was not to be, although students received an email that evening from RELC Examinations Bureau assuring them that those “who have attempted the paper would not be unduly penalised”.
The shocker from the UOL came via email early on Thursday: The students must retake the exam during their semester break, as the first will not be counted and will not appear in their records.
In the email, the university said the examiners had met for a review and it regretted that “it will not be possible to accurately and appropriately assess the Statistics 1 examination”.
The examiners were “unable to allocate marks in accordance with the specified criteria”.
Students were offered the retake on May 28 or June 3. If they are unable to make it on either date, they can take it next May.
The module is understood to be a foundation module and a prerequisite for higher-level modules.
The UOL has promised to do a “thorough review” of procedures for the production of exam papers to ensure such an incident will not be repeated.
“The University of London has already been in touch with students individually to apologise for the error and has made further contact with them to provide information about the new examination arrangements,” a UOL spokesperson said.
“Any student who is unable to make the rearranged examination dates should contact the university … students have also been invited to contact the university with any personal concerns or queries they may have.
“To act in the best interests of both its students and the integrity of its academic award, the university has swiftly made alternative arrangements for the new Statistics 1 examination papers to be taken following the discovery of the omission.”