To say that for the past year we have lived through unprecedented times would be something of an understatement. Although not operating as business as usual, we did manage with only slight time delays to complete the 2019-20 course session and begin the 2020-21 course session along with relative examinations.
For many years SOLAS, the Society of Law Accountants in Scotland, has delivered its evening courses on a classroom basis. Being similar to many other educational courses, when the pandemic hit we were faced with the difficult choice of whether to simply cancel or try and put in place an alternative method of delivery which was fair to both student and lecturer. We were also anxious not to in any way diminish the value of the SOLAS professional qualification.
After careful consideration, it was decided that we should proceed on the basis of live two-hour classes using the GoTo Meeting platform. The question of sitting the actual examination “from home” appeared at first to be less straightforward. Fortunately, by using the same platform, with the students opening their examination papers from a specially sealed envelope in front of an on-screen invigilator, we were able as far as possible to ensure that the usual examination conditions were being adhered to. Again in front of the invigilator, on completion of the examination, the student was instructed to seal their completed paper.
Overall, we are delighted to say that all went well, with 31 students passing all three examinations during 2020, including five who gained distinction in all subjects. That gave these students the opportunity, if they wished and if they met the criteria, to apply for membership of SOLAS, which allows them to use the professional qualification SLA. More than two-thirds of students applied and were approved for membership in February 2021.
Lecturers along with their students were invited to give their feedback, which in the main has been very encouraging. In particular, the students were very positive, with many saying that it fitted in well with family/home life and avoided additional travelling through the winter months. Taking the foregoing into account, courses for the present time will be delivered in the same manner.
Enrolment for session 2021-22 will commence at the end of May, with courses running from August to April. Further information is available at www.solas.org.uk or by contacting Dorothy Nicholson at email@example.com
Dorothy Nicholson is administrator of SOLAS