Dictionaries in exams

GUSRC has been making representations to the University on their proposed translation dictionary ban

The University proposed banning translation dictionaries in exams in order to counter cheating by students concealing notes in their dictionaries. Whilst recognising the problem caused by a small number of students cheating, the SRC opposed this ban due to concerns about the disproportionate impact on the majority of students whose first language is not English. The matter was voted on at Student Support Development Committee where the University representatives voted for an outright ban, and the SRC voted for the University to provide dictionaries rather than students providing their own (these were the only two options available to vote on). This caused a tie in the vote, and subsequently the SRC submitted a detailed paper (SRC submission to Council of Senate 11122014) to Senate Office arguing against the ban.

We had originally expected the matter to be discussed at Council of Senate. However, a University working group was set up to examine the issue. At the working group, SRC representatives reiterated their opposition to the ban, but were heavily outnumbered by University staff in favour of the ban, and were therefore outvoted. Recognising that the ban was becoming inevitable, the SRC then sought to mitigate the effect by voting in favour of a phased transition and for the University to examine what alternative and additional support it can provide for students whose first language is not English. Both of these recommendations were included in the Working Group’s final report which went to Council of Senate in April 2015. The matter has now been referred to Learning and Teaching Committee to develop a policy for provision of study and language skills support, to be brought back to Council of Senate before any dictionary ban is implemented.