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Entrance exam error affects 600 law degree hopefuls

On Friday the selection board said students who were already informed that they were accepted will not lose their places.

Helsingin yliopiston kirjasto
File photo. Students hard at work at Helsinki University library. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Officials at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) have said that they detected an error in the assessment of candidates' responses during the second stage of joint selection law school entrance exams.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the university said that an automated optical assessment had mistakenly subtracted points for all questions where candidates had selected a "no" response.

The mistake was first identified by way of social media discussions and feedback the institution received. UEF rector Tapio Määttä tweeted about the discovery on Thursday.

"I noticed a discussion on Jodel titled 'points miscalculated in law school entrance exam'," he wrote, referring to Jodel, a mobile community app widely used by young people in Finland.

A total of 620 candidates participated in the second phase of the entrance exam and the marking error affected the majority of them. The university has since informed all of the candidates about the evaluation glitch.

The university said that it is addressing the error by reviewing student selection decisions. The joint selection exams involve the universities of Helsinki, Eastern Finland, Lapland and Turku. They all issued statements expressing regret over the situation.

Successful students to retain places

The situation will likely affect candidates who have already been accepted to study law at the university.

Professor Antti Aine, chair of the joint selection board for the legal profession, said that it is possible that candidates who have already received acceptance letters will be in for disappointment.

"We cannot rule out the possibility at this stage. The overall situation is regrettable, but at this stage it’s important to remain calm because we do not yet know the practical repercussions," he noted.

UEF said that checks are currently taking place to determine how many candidates were affected by the assessment error. This will then determine if more students should be accepted for the law programme or if some candidates who have already been accepted will lose their study places.

However the joint selection board said on Friday that students who have been informed they were accepted into law programmes will not lose their places.

In May, media reported on mistakes detected during the first phase of online law school entrance exams. The second phase of the tests took place in a traditional exam setting.

"This spring we have conducted the entrance exams in very challenging and unusual circumstances. It is clear that we have succeeded in many respects but there are areas that require improvement. We will analyse what is needed to develop those processes in the future," Aine said.

UEF said that it would provide an update on the situation on 13 July.

Edit: Updated at 11.55am to add new information that students who were accepted on the basis of the test will not lose their study places.

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