ACCA’s Swift Introduction of Remote Invigilation in COVID-19
Alta Prinsloo | October 7, 2020
During a virtual knowledge sharing event for professional accountancy organizations on the race to online examinations during COVID-19, Alan Hatfield, Executive Director – Strategy and Development at ACCA, shared ACCA’s swift introduction of remote invigilation in COVID-19. The report, ACCA’s remote invigilation journey, provides more detail.
Before the pandemic, ACCA was actively transitioning to computer-based exams, while monitoring the future potential of remote invigilation. COVID-19 changed this. In March 2020, when ACCA had to cancel in-person exams, staff escalated their investigation into remote invigilation as a potential solution for students keen on progressing their membership. Staff turned to academic institutions around the world to learn from their quick move to online exams, while bringing key stakeholders—regulators and education partners—along the journey.
Working closely with its Data Privacy and GDPR teams, ACCA selected a solution that includes the use of AI and human invigilation. A pilot of approximately 2,000 students sitting remote exams alongside students sitting in-person exams reassured ACCA and partners that there was no difference in results between the two groups, giving ACCA the confidence to offer more remote exams. In September 2020, approximately 18,000 students took their exams remotely, alongside approximately 130,000 in person.
Feedback from students who completed their exams without technical issues was positive, while students who experienced technical issues were frustrated. A strong and stable internet connection is essential to running a successful remotely invigilated exam. As many of ACCA’s students live in countries with fluctuating power supplies, a key takeaway is the need to set expectations. Looking ahead, ACCA plans to share experiences more widely to help students to understand whether remote invigilation is right for them.
ACCA has moved swiftly to introduce remote invigilation to allow students to take exams while centers are closed. The effort should not be underestimated. It required teams across the organization to work together to ensure smooth a journey for students. Quick decision making, clear lines of responsibility, and close collaboration have enabled ACCA to introduce remote invigilation to thousands of ACCA students around the world.
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