'Anonymous marking' call rejected
STUDENTS at Essex University have overturned a decision by their leaders to back calls for anonymous marking.The student union at the Wivenhoe-based campus had asked the university to implement a system whereby tutors would assess essays and pieces of coursework without knowing who had produced them.
STUDENTS at Essex University have overturned a decision by their leaders to back calls for anonymous marking.
The student union at the Wivenhoe-based campus had asked the university to implement a system whereby tutors would assess essays and pieces of coursework without knowing who had produced them.
It was hoped this would stop any potential discrimination or prejudice against individuals or members of minority groups.
However, in a referendum held from Tuesday to Thursday last week, a sizeable majority of students – around 1,300 - voted against the introduction of such a scheme, while only 800 backed it.
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Yesterday Andy Abbot, a history undergraduate and member of student splinter group The Independent Student Forum, said he thought the union had been wrong to try and persuade the university to introduce anonymous marking.
He said he felt such a move would damage the academic relationship between tutors and students.
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“At this university there are some of the top people in the world in their subjects, and I came here to have a dialogue with them – the student union wanted to stop that.
“If there is discrimination against minority groups, it should be dealt with directly by sacking prejudiced staff and not sweeping it under the carpet.”
Research professor Hugh Brogan, also of the history department, said he thought anonymous coursework marking was unnecessary as there was “no suggestion” of any form of academic discrimination at the university.
“I think the proposal was absolutely preposterous,” he said. “If you are trying to give someone an education in history then it is very important students and tutors work together in as friendly and frank terms as possible.
“With anonymous marking the coursework becomes routine, and it takes the intellectual value out of education.
“Fortunately, the customers wouldn't wear it – as soon as our students found out about it they revolted.”
However Richard Brabner, vice president for development on the student union's executive committee, said: “The student union was mandated by union council to back the campaign for anonymous marking for routine coursework.
“That is a policy that has now been overturned.
“My personal opinion is that this would not have affected the staff student relationship.”
A university spokeswoman said: “The issue of anonymous marking was initially raised by the student union.
“Since it was raised there has been widespread consultation with staff and students about its possible implementation.
“No decision has been made but this will be one of the items discussed at the university senate later this month, and the outcome of the referendum will be taken into account.”