Share article:
Share article:

Despite coronavirus, students score higher on exams

Credit: Pixabay

University students across Belgium are seeing success with their exams, despite the modified instruction, social isolation, and an overall increase in stress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Ghent University, the percentage of students who passed their exams in the first semester rose from 44.7% to 47.8%.

“A striking and reassuring observation is that there were more people present. Even the first-year students were more present than usual,” Rector Rik Van de Walle told De Standaard.

In fact, the effect is even stronger amongst first-year students, who were a particular point of concern when it came to the effects of the new measures.


Related Posts


Experts worried that the lack of a “true” college experience which would significantly – and negatively – affect their initial impression of university life and subsequently, their motivation.

But when it came to first-year students, 24.5% of them passed all of their subjects, compared to 20.1% of freshmen the year before.

“Despite the ongoing corona crisis, students persevere and have been getting good or better grades,” reported the Odisee University of Applied Sciences, which saw similar results. Their overall passing rate rose by 4.3 percentage points compared to the year before.

“Although we see an increase in the results of first, second and third-year students, the first-years stand out,” Director of Education Ann Martin said. “The number of first-time students who attain at least 10 out of 20 has increased by 5.7 percentage points to 63.5%.”

In terms of what prompted the higher success rates, universities aren’t sure. Most didn’t offer more leniency.

“We really set the exam up to standard, just like in previous years,” said Pieter Cornillie, a professor of veterinary medicine at Ghent University.

He guessed that the lack of available distractions for students as a result of various coronavirus closures and mandatory social distancing could have been a contributing factor. “It may be crass, but there was nothing else for students to do.”

Universities haven’t had much time yet for an in-depth analysis of student performance, but are looking into it. As they do so, the mental health and wellbeing of students is at the forefront of their thoughts.

“Students themselves indicate that they feel that they have lived in ‘study mode’ for months,” said Rector Van de Walle. “Obviously, that is not purely positive. We have to recognise that many young people have had and continue to have difficulties.”

A survey by the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) published yesterday found that three out of four students were experiencing high stress levels regarding the results of their exams.

“More than half of the students are concerned about having a successful end to the academic year,” said Caroline Pauwels, a rector there. “We keep a close eye on the well-being of students and correct or tighten the supporting policy.”

KU Leuven, VUB and the University of Antwerp are expected to release their own findings later, and exams at some universities – like AP Hogeschool – are still underway.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Non-urgent care once again postponed in some hospitals
As the worsening coronavirus situation in Belgium is starting to take its toll on hospitals, it has been confirmed non-urgent care will once again be ...
Brussels Airport warns autumn holidaymakers to arrive early
Passengers leaving from Brussels Airport this autumn have been advised to factor in extra time to account for longer than normal check-in times and ...
27,000 Belgian taxpayers to pay more after incorrect tax break
About 27,000 taxpayers who wrongly received a tax reduction in the last three years due to an error by the tax administration will have to pay what ...
Wallonia launches first major survey for cyclist satisfaction
Following in the footsteps of France and Flanders, the Wallonia Region of Belgium is launching its first major satisfaction survey on municipal ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
Strong warnings issued ahead of climate change summit
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...