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Exam chaos: CBS voids 200 students’ exams. Is that acceptable? No, say the students

(Photo by Anna Holte)

“Retakes would not be a fair or equal outcome. On the contrary, our exams being voided would have huge consequences for us,” says Kristian Thylander, a BSc student HA PRO. Students from HA (it) and HA PRO have submitted a complaint to CBS Legal, the Study Administration and the Dean of Education. They are demanding that CBS reinstates the voided exams.

News |   21. Jan 2022

Mette Koors


Imagine you have just completed an exam online at home due to Covid-19 restrictions, everything has gone well, or as well as possible, but at least it is over, and now you can begin revising for your upcoming exams. Now imagine that you suddenly receive a letter stating that your exam is void. That is exactly what the students from HA PRO and HA (it) experienced after their exam on finance on 10 January.

On Monday 17 January, the students received a letter from CBS saying that their exams had been voided on the grounds that CBS had made a ‘regrettable’ error. They are to sit a new exam on 28 January.

“I was outraged over the letter and how this administrative error will negatively impact on my co-students and myself. It is the result of poor exam coordination at CBS. And I am shocked to experience such a lack of empathy from the management,” says Kristian Thylander, a BSc student on HA PRO.

It is the result of poor exam coordination at CBS

To date, 161 students have signed a complaint about the voided exams addressed to CBS Legal, the Study Administration and Dean of Education, Gregor Halff. The complaint submitted by the students demands that CBS withdraws the voiding of the exams and approves them instead.

According to CBS, the error occurred because “originally, the three BSc programs (HA PRO, HA(fil) and HA (it)) had planned to hold simultaneous exams, but due to intense time pressure caused by Covid-19, the three exams were held at different times, without changing the questions in the exams. Four hours passed between the first exam held by HA (fil) and subsequent exams held by HA PRO and HA (it).”

“That means that we cannot exclude that students on the HA PRO and HA (it) programs could have gained an advantage by knowing about the exam papers and questions prior to the exam, although, of course, we have no grounds for suspecting the students,” the CBS letter informs the students.

The students do not understand this reasoning.

Error by the administration

They write in the complaint that in the first semester of the program “Ledelse af Teams og Processer” (Managing Teams and Processes), HA PRO reused the same exam was for retakes as in the actual written exam” and here, several weeks usually pass before the retakes are held. CBS did not void the exams on that occasion but has chosen to void the finance exams where there was, after all, only four hours between the exams.

“We believe that the four-hour opportunity for cheating has no basis in reality. None of us students had ever expected such an error by the administration, as they knew very well that three programs were taking an exam in the same subject at home and all at different times,” says Kristian Thylander.

Director of Studies at CBS Bitta Nielsen apologizes for the situation and calls it “deeply unhappy”.

”The basis for our decision is to avoid doubt being sown concerning the validity of our examinations. And it is important to underline that we do not suspect the students of cheating. It is totally legal to share exam papers after an exam is over. However, a group of students have had potential access to the exam paper for four hours longer than the other students,” writes Director of Studies Bitta Nielsen in a reply to CBS WIRE.

Bitta Nielsen adds that CBS does not accept the reuse of exam papers for retakes due to illness either. “We will now investigate the suspected reuse the students mention in their complaint.” She admits that “a certain overlap between the exercises set” for exams and subsequent retakes can occur.

A whole lot of negative affects

The complaint submitted by the students from the HA PRO and HA (it) programs includes the following:  “… we do not believe that retaking the exam would constitute fair and equal treatment. It is not appropriate that an administrative error on the part of CBS should negatively affect so many students.”

The voided exams have a wide range of serious consequences and inconveniences for the students. In the complaint, they emphasize that they are already working hard revising for other exams, that they have, in fact, already taken the exam in question, and that they are simultaneously struggling with exams in the grip of a pandemic and the challenges that brings.

“For example, retaking the exam on 28/01 means that some HA PRO students have less than 24 hours to prepare after an oral exam in another subject on 27/01. It also means that students suffering from exam anxiety have to repeat an experience they found unpleasant due to an error that is 100% out of their hands,” says Kristian Thylander.

Some years ago, 130 students at Aarhus University also had their exams voided because the university had reused an exam paper. However, after the students complained, the university decided to reinstate the voided exams.

In the first instance, Bitta Nielsen does not believe that CBS’ error can be compared to the case from Aarhus University. She has no comment on the question, whether CBS will reinstate the 200 voided exams.

According to Bitta Nielsen CBS will analyze the entire process to avoid something similar happening again.


  1. ML says:

    Imagine demanding students to prove their integrity by a so called “integrity test” by the start of the semester, and then this is the level of integrity CBS themselves can live up to

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