August 1, 2021

students fear a devaluation of “Covid diplomas”

At the end of a chaotic academic year, exams, partial and defenses, essential steps and rites of passage in student life, have been transformed by the pandemic. Revisited assessment methods, development of multiple choice questionnaires (MCQ), videoconferencing defenses, tests adapted to courses taken almost entirely online … All disciplines combined, 40% of the exams were thus organized “remotely” in the first semester, according to estimates by the Conference of University Presidents (CPU). A small revolution.

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For some students, these remote exams have fueled concerns about the value of their degree. “The examination generates affects and expectations. With the crisis, they have been smoothed out, emptied of their emotional content ”, says Cécile Van de Velde, sociologist of education at the University of Montreal.

Lily Didier, 18, in first year of law at Albi (Tarn), already had doubts about the recognition of her baccalaureate, obtained in 2020. This year, her first end-of-semester exams took place on the platform Moodle academic. “In constitutional law, the essay test lasted an hour and a half instead of three hours, we were asked to write an introduction, to make an outline and to put dashes in place of written paragraphs”, she explains. The student keeps the impression “Never to have succeeded [s]we work, not to have returned what [elle était] capable ». She validated her year with an average of 10.7, without having written a law essay in the rules of the art. “I am afraid of arriving on the job market with a baccalaureate and law studies less valued than previous generations”, she says.

Year “unfinished”

This feeling of loss of value was documented by three researchers in sociology from the University of Pau, authors of a survey the first results of which were published on May 5 (“The Covid-19 pandemic: a health crisis revealing the diversity of student living conditions ”). They note that “Several students draw up a particularly bitter assessment of their university year, which they frequently describe as unfinished or an unfinished project”. This impression is related “Largely due to the absence of certain student rituals: time spent with fellow students, evenings, passing exams”. They thus observe that the question of the value of the studies or the diploma “Seems to play an important role in the concerns of the respondents”.

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