Twenty students from eighteen countries have completed the final state exam and defended their thesis online. They studied a two-year Master´s program in International Development Studies - GLODEP. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, students could not come back to Olomouc personally to do their exams. Within GLODEP program Palacky University is for the first time the leader in this Erasmus Mundus project representing three European universities.
"During the first day of the online state examination, we had to cover twelve worldwide time zones. Students were located in the USA, Morocco, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand. They had received a link for online access to the exams and thesis defence, and they had to be online five minutes before the scheduled time. Everything worked well. No examination nor defence had to be interrupted,” said Simona Šafaříková from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
The team of the lecturers from the department had to organize all necessary formalities to ensure a smooth process of the whole online version of exams. “We used four computers to be sure that everything will work well. Our colleagues from the partner universities in Italy and France were also online and participated in the examination. Some supervisors and reviewers of the thesis joined us online from Kyrgyzstan or Colombia,” added Simona Šafaříková.
Each student had to be alone in her room during the exam. He/she could not use the headphones and the camera had to be turned on all the time. “I was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, by the time the final exam and thesis defence were held because of my internship at Ala-Too International University, one of GLODEP's academic associates. At first, I was worried because the situation in Kyrgyzstan was not good due to the strict quarantine imposed by the government during the global pandemic, but the GLODEP consortium and my internship institution were handling the situation really well. They provided me with the assistance I needed and were really responsive every time I reached out to them. Everything was well-prepared and in the end, I am glad that my final exam and thesis defence could work out as what we had expected,” said Yunia Nursita Sari from Indonesia.
Student Patrick Christopher Ferrity from Ireland, who was still in Casablanca in Morocco under confinement at the time of the exams, confirmed that it was quite stressful to do the online examination. “I think that when you are not really able to go about your life as normal, sometimes the everyday stresses seem so much more. However, in saying this, I must commend the faculties of the GLODEP Consortium: Palacký University Olomouc, Clermont Auvergne University, and the University of Pavia. The professors were very accommodating of the situation, and worked diligently and tirelessly throughout the state exams, providing us nothing but support. Although it was a stressful time for us students, I can only imagine the volume of work that went into organising such a process. Therefore, I would like to thank all members of the faculty of the GLODEP consortium, as well as all support and administrative staff, who helped make everything possible. I hope we did you proud!” said Patrick Christopher Ferrity.
The state exams at the international Master´s degree program GLODEP were carried out from 22nd to 26th of June. The online conference was chosen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was quite hard to think of all details and prepare it, but we are happy that eventually, everything ended up well. However, it cannot replace personal contact during the exams. The graduation ceremony which would normally take place at the Faculty of Science should have been a final personal goodbye for all students and their families. The ceremony could not be organized given the situation and for the students, this is a real pity. However, they have created very strong relationships among each other, and we hope they can build on them the future,” added Simona Šafaříková.