UK’s prestigious Cambridge University is considering scrapping an over 800-year-old practice of handwritten exams. And the reason cited has been the deterioration in students’ handwriting.
“A growing reliance on laptops has led to students’ writing becoming increasingly illegible,” academics said.
Cambridge University has now launched a consultation on the topic as part of its “digital education strategy”, having already piloted an exam typing scheme in the History and Classics faculties earlier this year, The Telegraph reported.
WHAT ACADEMICIANS SAY
Dr Sarah Pearsall is a senior lecturer at Cambridge’s History Faculty who was involved with the pilot earlier this year. He informed that handwriting is becoming a “lost art” among the current generation of students. “As a faculty, we have been concerned for years about the declining handwriting problem. There has definitely been a downward trend. It is difficult for both the students and the examiners as it is harder and harder to read these scripts,” she said. Further adding she said it is “extraordinarily commendable” that the University is considering reforms to its examination practises.
NOT ALL ARE HAPPY
Yes, not everybody seems to be happy with such a move. Some have voiced fears that the “handwritten word (could) become a matter of nostalgia”.
Tracey Trussell, a handwriting expert at the British Institute of Graphologists, urged Cambridge to “make sure that students continue to write by hand, particularly in lectures”. “Certainly with social media, iPads, and all the rest of it, people do clearly use keyboards much more than they would hand write,” she said.
WHAT CAMBRIDGE SAYS
A spokesman for Cambridge University was quoted as saying that their review of exam procedures was “prompted by students raising concerns that they rarely handwrite during their studies”. “The consultation is ongoing and will be used to inform future decision-making on the issue,” the spokesperson said.