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June 18, 2002

Staffordshire University is investigating claims a lecturer accidentally sent students questions from a vital exam weeks before they sat the paper.

An internal inquiry has been launched after a HND business student claimed others on her course received the questions in an e-mail from tutor Andy Jones.

Lorna Edwards claims the questions were included in a practice test e-mailed by Mr Jones to students who did not attend a pre-exam tutorial.

She made the allegations after speaking to fellow student Alex Bryant following the exam, on May 29.

Mr Bryant says he received an e-mail from Mr Jones on April 29 which contained more than half of the 16 questions on the paper.

Miss Edwards claims Mr Jones only realised his mistake when she showed him a copy of the e-mail, which she obtained from Mr Bryant.

The 21-year-old student fears the alleged mix-up could jeopardise her diploma unless the situation is resolved before the exam results are published on July 1 - just 17 days before the students are due to graduate.

Miss Edwards, of Padstow Way, Trentham, said: "This affects all students who didn't get the e-mail, because if those who did do well it could raise the pass mark and push our grades down.

"More than half of the questions on the exam were in the e-mail, so it would make a big difference.

"I've put in two years' hard work on this course and I'm really worried about what will happen now, because there isn't time to sit another exam.

"I went to see Mr Jones the day after the exam, and when I showed him the e-mail he couldn't believe it.

"He said he had e-mailed the practice test out in a rush and didn't realise the actual exam questions were on it."

Mr Bryant claims he did not realise most other students on the course had not been given the questions he was allegedly sent by Mr Jones.

The 22-year-old, of Birchgate, Bucknall, said: "I didn't go to the last tutorial, so I e-mailed Andy Jones asking if he could send me the mock exam.

"I presumed everyone was given the same questions and revised from what he gave me. When I sat down in the exam I couldn't believe most of the questions were the ones I had been sent, and I mentioned it to some other people on the course afterwards.

"I didn't know Lorna had taken it up with the tutors, but as far as I'm concerned I have done nothing wrong. I just revised from the questions sent to me."

Paul Williams, senior award tutor at the university's business school, confirmed he was aware of Miss Edwards' complaint and said a full internal inquiry has been launched.

He said: "An examination issue has been brought to my attention by the tutor responsible for the module concerned. In line with rigorous university procedures, a thorough and transparent investigation is currently in process to establish all the facts before a report is submitted for the consideration of the relevant exam board."

He added: "I appreciate the concern of the students involved and this is a matter the university takes very seriously. However, with the inquiry still ongoing and not wanting to pre-empt the decision of the examination board, the university is unable to make further comment on this matter."

By IAIN BURCHELL. Copyright © Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.


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