Many medical students have faced the prospect of final year failure because of teething troubles with a new online assessment system, campaigners have warned.
The difficulties emerged as medical schools said that ensuring students graduate and become doctors is now a priority.
Some students have found the situational judgement tests prematurely terminated because of technical difficulties – or because of, alleged, minor infractions of rules, the Doctors’ Association revealed.
It said candidates had finally been offered resits – but that problems are continuing. Students are being told they must undertake their resits even when they have COVID-19 and some have been told they cannot use toilets at test centres, the association said.
The tests have been contracted to a large educational company Pearson Vue and the association said it was concerned the company has a “monopoly” on postgraduate exams for at least four medical colleges.
Anna Sigston, who sits on the association’s medical student committee, said: “Candidates are being failed for errors within Pearson Vue’s system, but instead of apologising, they, along with the UKFPO, have refused to take responsibility and subsequent action while ignoring serious concerns. Reports of candidates not being allowed to use the toilet and of those forced to sit the exam while suffering from COVID-19 is not only immoral but refuses to take into account the needs of individuals. “This is only the start, as more medical exams occur virtually, more issues and inequalities will arise.”
Fellow committee member Freya Rhodes added: “These re-sits have been offered with limited flexibility and extremely short notice, with some students being asked to take the examination whilst being unwell with COVID-19. We must continue to support our final year students who are also facing the challenges of graduating during a pandemic.”
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