Proctored exams – a must

Proctored exams – a must

There is considerable chatter on the topic of ‘cheating’ across the Sector – and the MBA is not immune. In order to protect the currency and credibility of our high profile Australian product we need to be vigilant – sadly – and proctored exams are an important element of our strategy.

My own institution is not self-accrediting. We rely heavily on the endorsement of both the CPA and the CA ANZ (amongst others) to ensure our profile, content and processes are intact and meet industry standards. Over a period of time our relationship has matured and we are able to respond quickly and appropriately to ‘changes in the river’ – so to speak.

Pre-COVID we operated an invigilated, F2F examination regime that ensured a high level of transparency and essentially made cheating near impossible. Three exams per trimester for all subjects (with the exception of research oriented activities) meant that there was little (if any) opportunity for fraud or deception. The program grew and flourished. The perception being students actually appreciated the integrity of the processes and endorsed the program both internally (SFUs) and externally (QILT).

When COVID-19 first impacted and we moved online, our Academic Senate acquiesced to a 40% assignment – 60% examination regime. This has now been in place for two years and probably warrants a review if and when students return to campus. Interestingly enough, based on the most recent student survey (T2, 2022) 98% of our current MBA students would prefer to stay online.

The 40% assignment model of course has reignited the issues around cheating that the Sector is grappling with at the moment. The 60% online examinations also present challenges around integrity and honesty. To this end our decision (a year ago) was to proctor our MBA CPA/CA ANZ accredited subjects within the examination space using a product Invigilator Plus.

This has provided my organisation with a certain degree of comfort with surprising completion/submission improvement – not anticipated. Based on the recent MBA T2, 2022 examination data we saw a 2% increase in the overall completion rate of examinations and of the eight (8) MBA subjects proctored an increase in completion rates in seven (7) of the eight (8). In the undergraduate accounting program the increase in submissions was higher again – 4%.

It appears that the proctoring effort has in fact provided a degree of confidence for the student body that integrity is being maintained and the system has returned to a more honest format. The analogy for me has always been that of observing passengers failing to pay their train fares (tapping on and off) – other passengers say nothing – but are often delighted when the offender is caught and fined.

Online learning – in one form or another (hybrid, blended) is here to stay. Proctored exams, using suitable software and support personnel is also a necessary – sadly – requirement to ensure integrity and avoid fraud.


Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor of UBSS and the Vice President (Academic) at GCA