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6,000 students experience exam disruption due to failing IT systems

Henk Strikkers,
22 oktober 2020 - 17:05

An estimated 6,000 students were unable to sit their exams this week due to a major failing of the UvA's IT systems. A problem with the authentication process caused a malfunction, resulting in thousands of students being unable to log-in to university systems such as Canvas, Zoom, SIS and Testvision. The exact cause of the problem is unknown, says a UvA spokesperson. ‘Our priority is that all exams can take place in the coming days.’

UvA rector magnificus Karen Maex and Frank Hendrickx, director of ICT Services, sent an apology e-mail to students on Thursday. ‘This shouldn't have happened,’ they wrote. ‘Of course you will all be able to take your exams as soon as possible… We realise that this may not be in a free week and that this creates extra pressure. We hope for your understanding’.

‘Before the summer I had an exam where something went wrong and students who failed could take a re-sit as the first chance’

Nina Hol, chair of the Central Student Council, took an exam Thursday morning. ‘Before the summer I had an exam where something went wrong and students who failed could take a re-sit. So they could take the re-sit as the first chance and then another re-sit. This should be the case now too. This is an UvA-wide problem and it deserves an UvA-wide solution.’ Hol hopes that students who did manage to sit their exams Thursday but who were unable to access study materials on Canvas due to the malfunction will also be taken into account.
Professor of Political Science Sarah de Lange’s students had a take-home exam to complete this week. ‘The outage didn’t have any major consequences for my students, but they couldn’t access the book chapters and lecture slides on Canvas for their final essays,’ she says. ‘Since the deadline for this is only Friday, it did not seriously affect them, as the malfunction was resolved in the course of the afternoon.’
However, other students were not so lucky, says de Lange. 500 students were unable to sit the exam “Introduction to Political Science”. ‘[Re-scheduling] will be a big challenge for our study programme.’