OUSU marked with initiative failure

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The University has advised students not to waste their money on an Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) initiative encouraging students to apply to see examiners’ comments on their exam scripts.OUSU Academic Affairs Officer Louise McMullan originally claimed that a breakthrough had been made after she revealed that students could apply under the Data Protection Act to see any personal comments made on their exam papers. She said it was a “very good step forward for transparency in the examination system” that would be extremely useful for students. However, a university spokesperson denied that students would benefit, as there would be “little if anything to see”, and consequently said that the £10 fee charged for supplying the information was likely to be a “waste of money”.Under the Data Protection Act Oxford University is required to make personal information kept on file available. However, the examiners’ process of agreeing marks largely takes place during verbal discussion, with the examiners’ comments used only as prompts to the discussion. As the comments are purely for the examiners’ reference, they are nearly always destroyed immediately after marking. So while students have the right to see comments kept, but not the scripts, there is rarely anything to see. Clerk to the Proctors, Dr Brian Gasser said OUSU was “exploiting a quirk in the law” and in practice very little information would be divulged. Archive: 0th week HT2004

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