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MU Faculty of Economics and Administration first to come up with new concept of bachelor exams

Yesterday, the Board of Internal Evaluation of Masaryk University approved the form of the completion of bachelor studies at the MU Faculty of Economics and Administration by a final project instead of a bachelor’s thesis.

The planned change reflects the current practice of state final examination boards, which are focused on the practical application of acquired knowledge and the analytical thinking of students.

“Students will no longer be evaluated based primarily on the writing of an extensive text, but mainly on their presentation skills, ability to react adequately and professionally, justify their decisions, and present proposals. These are the abilities and skills that characterize a graduate of bachelor's degree programmes at the Faculty of Economics and Administration of Masaryk University,” said Marie Hladká, vice-dean for studies. She also added that the new concept of the final project reinforces the transformation in the attitude of lecturers towards the assessment of final and seminar papers and suppresses the mistaken belief that longer texts automatically mean higher-quality outputs. She also clarified that undergraduate theses are not being eliminated solely due to the rapid development of artificial intelligence.

“Artificial intelligence can currently process large – not only – theoretical passages or other lengthy texts adequately, but it does not demonstrate the ability to generate original ideas, perform deeper analyses, or engage in critical thinking and reflection. These key skills and abilities, especially the student's contribution to the topic, will now be central to their assessment and evaluation,” added Hladká.

The final project will be a short document in which students will present and analyse a situation, propose solutions, and argue and justify their decisions and recommendations. Reviews will also no longer be required. The state final examinations will no longer include a defence of the bachelor's thesis but a discussion and professional debate on the final project. This project will test student's ability to independently prepare and present a specific study on a topic relevant to the programme studied.

“Practice has shown that a shorter, more narrowly focused text is more suitable for these needs,” said Jiří Špalek, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration.

The faculty’s bachelor’s degree programmes will be reaccredited for the 2024/2025 matriculation year. The updated state final exams will first occur in the sixth semester from the start of the study, that is, in spring 2027. However, plans for completion are in place for students of lower matriculation years in relation to the current semester of study.

“The 2023/2024 matriculation year will be converted to the upgraded format. Students will be assigned a new control template with a new curriculum. The innovative state final exams will be held in the spring of 2026,” Hladká said. Traditional bachelor's theses will still be processed according to the old original template.

It can be expected that other MU faculties will also submit similar requests related to the extension of the accreditation of study programmes to the Board of Internal Evaluation. The Board will proceed individually and carefully in their assessment and approval as in the case of the MU Faculty of Economics and Administration.

“Our goal is to evaluate changes concerning student interest, the quality of the final exam, and the skills acquired by the graduate. At the Board meeting yesterday, we articulated some principles that we feel are important. For example, we consider it desirable to maintain the format of the defence, which gives students specific skills,” said Markéta Pitrová, vice-chair of the Board of Internal Evaluation.

The Board of Internal Evaluation wants to be sure that the faculty is presenting a conceptual and thoroughly discussed proposal and that it has taken advantage of all opportunities, such as changing the format of the final undergraduate thesis.

“It is necessary to carefully consider all arguments, including the need to protect intellectual property that can be linked to the thesis, especially in experimental fields,” concluded Pitrová.

The Faculty of Science intends to follow a similar path in the near future, specifically for the chemistry study programme.