Tens of thousands of university students in UAE sit in-person exams

Strict safety measures will be in place as the education sector takes important steps towards a gradual return to normality

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Tens of thousands of university students in the UAE will sit in-person exams this month, many for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universities implemented strict safety measures to allow tests to be held on campus – a significant step forward for the higher education sector.

Students will have to wear masks at all times on campus, and those who are unvaccinated will need to provide negative PCR test results before being allowed to enter the exam hall.

Some higher education institutions held in-person assessments in December but students had to wear masks, and gloves while writing or typing, which frustrated many.

This is the university's effort to bring everyone back

University of Sharjah is holding its spring semester final exams from May 15 to May 26.

Dr Hussein El Mahdi, dean of academic support services at the university, said 10,000 students would take the exams on campus.

Close to 4,000 students were able to sit in-person exams in batches in the autumn semester.

In the autumn "we limited the number to 200 students on campus [at a time] ... as that was our first experience," Dr El Mahdi said.

"This is our second time holding exams on campus during the pandemic.

"The main reason we went with this is that our ability to deal with the situation has changed.

"Vaccinations have been rolled out and there are good testing measures. In the fall we were more hesitant.

"This is the university's effort to bring everyone back."

Now, the university can have up to 900 students on the premises at a time.

Only a few students were able to sit for in-person tests in December, but tens of thousands of students in the Emirates are appearing for exams this week and the next.

The university consulted health authorities and set up conditions students would have to meet.

Students will have to be vaccinated with both doses or take a Covid-19 PCR test 92 hours before the exam.

They will have to adhere to all safety precautions, such as wearing a mask and sanitising their hands.

No exchange of material or pencils is allowed during the examination.

Students will have to undergo temperatures checks on entry to university, and must follow a set seating plan.

Students at University of Sharjah are sitting final year exams on the campus this month. Courtesy: University of Sharjah 
Students at University of Sharjah are sitting final year exams on the campus this month. Courtesy: University of Sharjah 

"We have ensured we have enough distancing in seating and have taken all the precautionary measures," Dr El Mahdi said.

Students who write exams on their laptop will not be required to wear gloves, while some students who will be writing an on-paper exam will have to don gloves.

All exams for advanced, graduate, laboratory, and medical courses have been organised on campus.

Zayed University is holding final exams on campus for the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Close to 10,000 students will be appearing for examinations at the campus.

Universities follow Covid-19 guidelines to allow exams to be held safely

The university implemented precautionary measures to ensure that the final exams were held on campus. Exams started on May 16.

"The university is committed to ensuring the highest levels of precaution and safety of all its 9,860 students that are currently undergoing their final examinations, as well as faculty members and staff," said a Zayed University representative.

Students, employees, and academic staff need to follow guidelines.

When entering the university campus, all students have to show their vaccination card to prove they have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

If they have not received the Covid-19 vaccine or received a single dose,  they will have to show a negative PCR test result less than a week old.

Students had to report their vaccination status earlier in May.

The university encouraged everyone to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Exams are being conducted in large halls where pupils can maintain safe distances, and masks are mandatory.

The exam schedule is designed to ensure many students are not on campus at the same time.

Student gatherings are prohibited, and students need to leave the campus as soon as they finish their exams.

Exam halls and public spaces will be disinfected and sterilised after each day.