As Unisa fails the invigilator test, here’s how other varsities do it

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Unisa battles with issues affecting employment of invigilators due to the Covid-19 coronavirus and online exams. Picture: iStock/ Fizkes
Unisa battles with issues affecting employment of invigilators due to the Covid-19 coronavirus and online exams. Picture: iStock/ Fizkes

NEWS


As Unisa battles with issues affecting employment of invigilators due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, this is what is happening at other universities:

  • North West University (NWU) spokesperson Louis Jacobs said the university did not make use of invigilators during the June/July exams because there were no sit-down assessments at the time.

“During the November exams, some exit-level modules, particularly those applicable to statutory bodies, will have sit-down assessments under controlled circumstances. Invigilators will be used during these assessments,” Jacobs said.

He said invigilators were not permanent staff, but were appointed per relevant legislation that applied to seasonal or ad hoc work.

Where a shortage of invigilators is identified for specific periods then independent external invigilators are contracted. They form part of an existing dependable pool, often called on at short notice when academic staff are unavailable or when a larger number of invigilators is required
Nelson Mandela University spokesperson Debbie Derry

“NWU is the second-largest university in South Africa and, [in being] mindful of the three campuses as well as distance learning, using invigilators will depend on each exam. But the groups are quite large…

“The fact that no sit-down assessments took place in accordance with Covid-19 regulations affected all invigilators,” he said.

  • Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said over many years the institution had made use of staff members and independent contractors for the invigilation of exams, but had decided to only appoint independent contractors in future.

“Due to Covid-19, most of the exams are conducted online. There are a few face-to-face invigilated examinations scheduled as required by professional bodies. Due to Covid-19 protocols requiring social distancing and limited numbers of persons per venue, more venues will be used and therefore more invigilators are required. For the November/December 2020 exams, about 100 invigilators have been contracted. Only invigilators younger than 60 were contracted to mitigate the risk of compromising the health of older invigilators,” Viljoen said.

  • University of the Western Cape spokesperson Gasant Abarder said although a proportion of assessments would be done online, the institution had several sit-down assessments which would make use of invigilators.

Abarder said invigilators were contracted for the exam periods, but the university would split invigilation between senior postgraduate students and contract staff.

  • Nelson Mandela University spokesperson Debbie Derry said the university was making use of invigilators during all assessments.

Due to Covid-19 and the change in the academic calendar, she said the periods for invigilation had shifted.

“There has, in line with safety concerns, been a shift in the way we assess in many instances. However, invigilation is still an integral part of formal assessments, even when such assessments occur digitally or remotely. An example would be that of students who have chosen to sit for examinations at home. They are invigilated virtually with invigilators monitoring groups of students via platforms like Zoom,” Derry said.

Read: Hundreds of Unisa invigilators face the axe as exams move to online

She added that invigilation was predominantly done by existing academic and support staff within and across faculties.

She said these were permanent staff and invigilation forms part of their duties.

“Where a shortage of invigilators is identified for specific periods then independent external invigilators are contracted. They form part of an existing dependable pool, often called on at short notice when academic staff are unavailable or when a larger number of invigilators is required,” she said.

Derry said they had appointed 120 contract invigilators for this year, compared with an average of about 350 during a full academic year.

She said the academic year was only scheduled for completion in February next year, with the majority of formal assessments planned for January and February 2021.

“Additional appointments will therefore be in line with the average annual appointments. To our knowledge, there has been no significant impact on contracted invigilators due to the fact that we predominantly utilise existing permanent staff,” Derry said.

  • University of Johannesburg spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said the university’s academic staff perform invigilation duties in all the faculties.
University Johannesburg’s academic staff perform invigilation duties in all the faculties.

“This is part of their conditions of service. However, in some faculties there is not enough academics to perform this duty and we then make use of temporary invigilators to assist. This year, due to Covid-19, all teaching and learning activities were moved online and little in-person invigilation occurred,” Esterhuizen said.

  • University of Cape Town (UCT) spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the institution did not make use of external invigilators.

“We use UCT staff for invigilating during exams, therefore these questions are not applicable in our context,” Moholola said.

  • Sol Plaatje University spokesperson Kashini Maistry also said the university uses its own staff for invigilation.


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Msindisi Fengu 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
msindisi.fengu@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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