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Valery Falkov Says 77% of Russian Universities Ready to Conduct Online Exit Exams and Graduate Thesis Defense

May 20, 2020

Russia's Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov has said that the majority of Russian universities have expressed their readiness to hold remote exit examinations and graduate thesis defenses.

Speaking on the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station, the minister said that as many as 77% of Russian universities would arrange for this year's finalists to both sit their state exams and defend their graduate theses, while the remaining 23% would drop the exams and only have thesis defenses.

Valery Falkov is confident that Russian universities are for the most part well equipped to administer web-based exit examinations, using remote proctoring tools for authenticating and supervising exam-takers. In such online-proctored tests, a human invigilator, operating from a remote location, monitors students' behavior via web cameras and views their computer screens. This technology makes it possible to verify test-takers' identities and prevent cheating so that objectivity and fairness are not compromised.

Some Project 5-100 universities operate in-house developed remote proctoring systems. Thus, ITMO University aims to ensure test-takers' integrity by means of ITMOproctor, which records all that passes between student and invigilator as well as their respective behavior and allows the invigilator to see the student's computer screen. The application identifies test-takers using biometric measurements, both biological and behavioral, monitors their activities, and analyzes their psychological and physiological state during the examination.

NUST MISIS is working to implement synchronous proctoring solutions for online verification. National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) has also opted for a synchronous proctoring tool, Examus.

To help those institutions that are struggling to choose remote proctoring software or organize web-based examinations, 16 leading Russian universities will offer their own solutions on the National Open Education Platform. It is run by an eponymous association that brings together Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), St Petersburg State University (SPbU) and six Project 5-100 institutions: HSE, ITMO University, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), NUST MISIS, St Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) and Ural Federal University (UrFU).

In his interview, Valery Falkov pointed out that some universities were collaborating with leading telecom operators, citing, by way of example, UrFU's partnership with Rostelecom, Russia's largest digital service provider.

For non-finalists, those end-of-year exams that cannot be administered remotely will be pushed back to a later date. According to Valery Falkov, there is a consensus among universities that any practical exams or tests which students are required to take to progress to the next year of their degree should be postponed, possibly until autumn, a delay allowed by law. Therefore, students will still be obliged to complete the curriculum in its entirety, even though this may mean that some of their, e. g., second-year courses will spill over into the third year.