Examinations 2012/13

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At the end of April 2012, 59  undergraduates expressed an interest in having their College placements confirmed in 2013/14. The final number of students eligible for placements under current EdISU rules was 57 and, on 2 August 2013, 36 students had met the EdiSU requirements and 21  had failed). In the case of postgraduate students of MSc Courses, 18 students were eligible  for confirmation of placements and 16 out 18 met the EdISU score (see Fig on the left).


The data on undergraduate students were analysed further by school/ faculty. The results in the second Fig on the left show that the highest failure rates involved undergraduate Courses in Engineering and Science and Maths (67% and 60% respectively) whereas the failure rates for Pharmacy and Medicine were much lower at 25% and 23%. Data for undergraduates in Social Sciences and Humanities are not shown because the number of these students at Volta is too low to analyse.

The EdISU scoring system for confirmation of College placements is one that has evolved over the years and has undergone continuous adjustments to the ever changing landscape of the organisation of the Course at Italian Universities, including Pavia.

The system is in need of reform for the following reasons:

(i) A system in which nearly 40% of undergraduates fail to reach the set threshold needs to re-evaluate both the criteria for assessment and the underlying causes of failures, namely the structure of the University Courses and the relevant examinations (too many examinations consist of multiple parts that are set and marked at different dates and students run out of time in the process). The University of Pavia needs to undertake a major review of its teaching.

(ii) The current EdISU system requires students to meet absolute credit figures (for example 35 credits at the end of year 1, 80 or 88 at the end of year 2, etc). The system is cumbersome because many Courses keep changing the goal post (the number of total credits) and, as a result, EdISU has to adjust constantly the credit requirements, often on a ad hoc basis. This problem can be solved by replacing a system based on absolute requirements with a system based on percentage score in which students are required to reach a defined percentage of the total credits on set by the University for the relevant Course and year.

(iii) The assessment of the Courses in Engineering and Science & Maths needs specific criteria. The mission of EdISU is to promote University education across all subjects and current EdISU criteria massively penalise students of Engineering and Science & Maths (Fig above). Collegio Volta, a College named after an outstanding physicist and professor at Pavia, is determined to address this with EdISU and do everything in its power to encourage and support students reading these subjects in future years.

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