Students have criticized “unfair” exam rules that they fear could put them at risk of contracting Covid.
In-person exams at the University of Manchester will return in the coming weeks after months of distance learning and testing.
Science and Engineering students said they “don’t feel safe” taking exams and fear it could cause a spike in cases and force them to repeat the academic year.
READ MORE: ‘It’s horribly unfair’: Manchester Uni student who missed exam during isolation has to retake the whole YEAR
However, Unibos have reassured participants that rooms will be well ventilated and people will be asked to wear face masks.
Chemistry student Matthew Robinson, 21, described the decision to have personal tests performed as “reckless”.
He told the Manchester Evening News : “Understandably, the university has chosen not to conduct online exams, thinking in terms of conspiracy and fraud.
“However, with the Covid cases getting worse, I don’t understand how the university expects students to perform as well as possible.
“Between the worries about missing exams due to isolation and not knowing whether our resit grades will be capped, and possibly infecting family members and friends by having to travel for a personal exam.
“The odds of someone having Covid in the exam room are probably quite high, given the sheer number of students that will be in attendance, how far they traveled for the exam, and how many people they may have interacted with.
“Combine that with a difficulty in obtaining lateral flow tests, this could be my cohort’s most stressful exam period ever.”
‘Most stressful exam period ever’
A third-year Environmental Science student, 22, who asked not to be named, said: “Exams alone are stressful, but now it’s the uncertainty of knowing that if you get Covid you have no choice but to spend the entire academic year.
“We are afraid that people with Covid will still take the exam.
“Because the other option is to postpone your graduation by a year – who would want to do that?
“Covid cases are so high right now.
“In the coming days, students from all over the world will be returning to Manchester, so the Covid cases are likely to resurface.
“I don’t feel safe at all- I can’t imagine how someone with an underlying health condition would feel.
“I’ve been really upset and it’s taking its toll on my mental state.”
A petition calling for exams to be brought back online has been supported by more than 800 students.
Computer science student Jeremy Roe, 20, said students should take the exam in the summer if they test positive before this month’s test.
He said: “It seems unreasonable not to have the opportunity to take exams online, because m y exams are taken on a computer.
“My asthma makes me vulnerable
“The university ignores people who can’t make it to campus, such as international students whose countries are in lockdown and people who are clinically frail who don’t want to be in a room without social distancing.
“It seems completely unfair.”
Chemistry student Mia, 21, who refused to give her last name, said: “I recently caught Covid, but if I had discovered it around exam time, I would have had to redo the year and postpone graduation, or graduate with missing credits, what a negative effect would have on my overall grade.
“I can imagine that many students who contract Covid still take the exams, because then they don’t have to repeat the year.
“I don’t feel safe because students travel to Manchester and may have different strains of virus with them, which makes it even scarier.
“A major problem for international students is that flights are cancelled.
“Even if they didn’t have Covid, they would have to do the year over – it’s not very fair.”
A 21-year-old international student said their parents are “very concerned” about returning to the UK because of Covid.
The Mechatronics Engineering student added: “I explained to the university that it is very difficult for students to attend exams on campus, especially when students don’t even have to test for the exam, making it very likely that at least one person likely to have Covid.
“The university told me to request extenuating circumstances and that the shortage of lateral flow tests will prevent many students from testing for exams.
“If they are not ready for such an opportunity, why do they insist on having our exams on campus when other universities have decided that online exams are now the best choice?”
A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “The safety and well-being of our students is always of the utmost importance to us.
“During the pandemic, we have followed the advice of the UK Government and public health experts, and have continuously reviewed our safety guidelines.
“We have everything we need to make our campus as safe as possible.
“The vast majority of our students and staff are now vaccinated (including booster vaccines), free Covid test kits are available to everyone and face coverings currently remain mandatory on campus.
“We understand that some students feel anxious and we encourage them to contact our support and wellness services.”
Get the latest news in your inbox with our newsletters.