Past examination papers back online after disruptive technical glitch

Anna Carruthers 26 April 2015

Past exam papers are back online after a technical problem on the server made past papers relating to various faculties unavailable to students through CamTools.

Following the server problem, Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) revealed that it would be uploading past exam papers onto its own website. Jemma Stewart, CUSU Coordinator, tweeted saying: “we’re gonna be looking into getting the papers hosted on our website/alternative arrangements for links to depts asap”.

Faculties such as History of Art had taken past exam papers offline after the JISC (Joint Information Services Committee) programme was taken down. King’s College assistant librarian Gareth Burgess, said that the website “had not been updated since 2012” and “contained papers for all subjects, not just History of Art, so this move will affect a large number of students, particularly undergraduates”.

With one month to go for many student’s exams, the disappearance of past paper exams affected various undergraduates. Affected students at King’s were recommended to consult hard copies of exam papers available in the library.

In response to this the Whose University? Campaign encouraged students to send them past papers in order to compile a database, accessible to all. Whose University? stated to Varsity: “It’s really important in situations like this to show departments that you don’t need money to share resources like this – we are doing it for free and proving there is an alternative”.

However, the loss of exam papers did not affect everyone, with the Department of Engineering, Faculty of History, and Department of Land Economy, amongst others, remaining unaffected. It had been previously been thought that the exam papers had been removed due to a temporary lack of funding for JISC, a public organisation that supports the UK higher education sector.

One anoymous student said: “Obviously this should not have happened but personally it did not affect me because I had already written down all the past paper questions.”

One first-year Caius student had a different view: “I think the question we need to be asking here is why past papers were uploaded through an external source anyway? Surely it is within the University’s capabilities to do that itself, evidenced by the efforts of Whose University? and CUSU.”