SIM-UOL students petition against additional charges for British Council exam venue

SIM-UOL students petition against additional charges for British Council exam venue

SIM-UOL students launch petition against exorbitant exam venue fees

UPDATE (21 Feb, 6pm): In response to queries from MS News, a British council spokesperson said that the fees were agreed between UOL and BC. They noted that these fees reflect the costs of delivering the exams to UOL’s unique specifications at a large scale, spanning several weeks.

The spokesperson added that BC’s aim is to provide the best possible exam experience for the candidates at a manageable fee.

Students from the Singapore Institute of Management-University of London (SIM-UOL) programme have come out to voice their frustrations over having to pay an additional venue fee for their upcoming examinations.

Each student reportedly has to pay around S$200 per paper to use British Council (BC) test venues.

Source: Google Maps

Students claim that it was UOL that made the decision to hold the exams with the BC and that the additional payments go directly to it.

Some of them have since set up a petition against holding the online exam in a physical space as the pandemic lockdowns have proven that they can complete the tests remotely.

SIM-UOL students to pay for British Council test venues on top of exam fees

Speaking to MS News, a 22-year-old SIM-UOL student, who wished to be known as Div, shared that he found out about the fees sometime in the first week of February.

In addition to pre-existing UOL examination fees, which MS News understands is S$650 for each full module, students have to pay an extra S$203 per paper before 28 Feb.

They would also have to pay a late-stage registration fee of S$244 per paper should they miss the deadline.

Those who do not make the payment will not be able to sit for the exam.

Students find it hard to budget for additional fees

Div, who is in SIM-UOL’s Data Science and Business Analytics course, will be taking four papers in the upcoming exams.

This means that he will have to fork out S$812 just for the BC venue alone if he makes payment before 28 Feb.

He also disclosed that he is already paying around S$7,000 to SIM and S$4,000 to UOL per year, inclusive of tuition and exam fees.

Div argued that the additional fee is a last-minute charge and that many students are finding it difficult to budget for it.

“There are many students — including myself — who are working and paying their school fees without being supported by their parents,” he shared.

“For now, I am unsure how I am going to pay the additional fees.”

Another SIM-UOL student, who wished to go by his initial “C”, corroborated Div’s account.

C, a 21-year-old Management and Digital Innovation student, will also be taking four papers in the upcoming exams.

He said that the exorbitant exam charges came as a shock to his parents when he broke the news about the fees to them.

“They have not taken the news well either as it makes no sense for students to pay for something that SIM can’t provide — a venue.”

“It is a huge amount of money for foreign students that live in developing countries like me,” added C, who is from Indonesia.

Redundant to hold online exam in a physical venue, say SIM-UOL students

Many students also found it redundant for SIM-UOL to hold the exams in a physical space.

This is because the tests are on the same online platform that was used for remote exams during the pandemic, Div explained.

Furthermore, candidates are expected to bring their own laptops to the exam venue.

When asked if the school has done anything to address the students’ concerns, Div said: “They have yet to do anything other than offer explanations via email.”

He hopes that SIM-UOL will at least subsidise — if not completely absorb — the additional charge.

“Alternatively, they can get rid of it altogether since we’re using our own laptops to do the online exam anyway.”

Online petition started to protest against onsite exam, some students intend to write to MPs

In light of this, SIM-UOL students have started an online petition proposing that the exam be a remote one instead.


As of this writing, the petition has garnered 1,206 signatures.

However, Div expressed that the petition might not change the present situation.

“Despite that, it’s a first step to showing SIM-UOL that the students will not just sit quietly and accept this situation,” he noted.

Besides the petition, some students also have plans to write a letter to their Members of Parliament as well as the Minister for Education about this incident.

“We hope that even if this doesn’t change anything, it will still send a message that the students are going to stand up for themselves.”

SIM wishes to ensure smooth exam experience for students

Responding to queries from MS News, SIM said that its priority is to ensure that students have a smooth examination experience as much as possible.

“We have been actively engaging the University of London and the British Council to enhance communications and address the concerns students have raised,” it stated.

The university explained that UOL holds the authority to source for and appoint exam venues to ensure the academic integrity of its degrees.

As such, UOL has determined that “venue-based examinations provide the most robust way to do so”.

SIM further clarified that it does not determine nor collect any examination-related fees.

“We understand and empathise with the frustrations expressed by our students and are dedicated to supporting them through this period,” it added.

British Council says the fees reflect the cost of delivering the exams to UOL’s specifications at a large scale

On 21 Feb, a BC spokesperson told MS News that it is committed to providing a quality exams experience and supporting United Kingdom education, with their UK and local partners and stakeholders. BC always acts in the best interests of their candidates and partners as they are the UK’s cultural relation organisation, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson disclosed that BC and UOL agreed upon the exam fees.

” These fees reflect the costs of delivering the exams to UOL’s unique specifications (computer-based, scanned responses, etc) at a significant scale, in a number of venues, across the country spanning several weeks of exams,” they explained.

“It is a complex operational challenge, which the British Council is well-placed to meet. Our aim is to provide the best possible exam experience for our candidates at a manageable fee.”

Additionally, they said that UOL  is returning to in-person assessments at physical centres to provide a “consistent and academically rigorous assessment experience” for students.

“Assessments will be taken online via the Inspera platform, with the added benefit of having trained proctors and IT support on-site, which allows for better monitoring and assistance if issues arise.”

Highlighting that all assessments before the pandemic were in closed-book assessment hall conditions, the spokesperson said the temporary shift online during lockdowns was to minimise disruptions to students.

“In-person assessments align with the practices of our academic partners, such as the London School of Economics and Political Science, and are important for upholding the integrity and quality standards of UOL degrees worldwide.

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Featured image adapted from Singapore Institute of Management and Google Maps.

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