Announcing the University’s new Digital Exam System: Inspera Assessment

In September 2021 we will be launching a new system for centrally supported digital exams, called Inspera Assessment. Implementing the system will enable the Digital Exam Service to: 

  • Deliver secure locked down present-in-person exams on University computers and students’ own laptops, monitored by University invigilators 
  • Ensure that digital exams are accessible to all our students, and enhance the student experience of exams 
  • Increase the University’s digital exam capacity in the long term 
  • Enable more authentic exams by introducing new functionality

New exam types possible with Inspera will include:  

  • Students taking written exams online, by typing their answers on computer, and incorporating drawings or written calculations done on paper into their online answers where needed. 
  • Allowing access to specific online resources or applications during a secure exam, using allow listing functionality. 

Introducing Inspera is a big step forward for education, assessment and feedback at Newcastle University.  Adopting a specialist digital exam system allows us to do much more than would be possible if we continued to use the Virtual Learning Environment for digital exams.

Choosing a digital exam system 

Inspera has been selected as our digital exam system following a rigorous procurement process, which began with requirements mapping workshops in February 2020, attended by over 60 academic and professional services staff.  The procurement was postponed for a year as a result of the global pandemic, and restarted in semester 2 2020/21 when colleagues had the opportunity to feed in any new or updated requirements via an online survey.   

Once the tender was issued key digital exams stakeholders contributed to a rigorous evaluation process to decide on the system that best fit our requirements.  Students and staff were invited to volunteer for usability testing in each system that met the mandatory technical requirements. The team are very grateful to the 36 colleagues, and 13 undergraduate and postgraduate students, who completed a total of approximately 150 hours of usability testing between them! 

Inspera scored the highest overall for both usability, and for technical and functional requirements. 

Rolling out Inspera 

As standard all 2021/22 modules that have a present-in-person digital exam in MOFS will use Inspera.  If the public health situation requires, it will be possible for these modules to use the system for open book take home exams.

Numbas maths assessment system remains an option digital exams that need specialist mathematics functionality.

The system will be available for additional new digital exams from 2022/23 onwards.  There will be opportunities in the coming months to see demonstrations of the software, and learn more about the new types of assessment that it makes possible.  If you would like to learn more now, please contact

How to get started  

The Digital Exams Service team will contact all 2021/22 module teams with a digital exam in their MOF at the beginning of September, with details of the process for preparing their exam. 

Training will also launch in September 2021, and all colleagues who will be using Inspera in the new academic year are encouraged to sign up.   

Online resources to help students prepare for a digital exam will be published in September, and students will also be able to try out a demo exam in Inspera to help familiarise themselves with the system. 

If you are interested in introducing a new digital exam using Inspera in future, or if you have any queries about a 2021/22 digital exam, please contact

Matt Price – Meet the New Education Officer

Matt pRICEWe met up with the new Newcastle university Students’ Union’s Education Officer to find out a little bit more about him and what he hopes to bring to his new role….

What are you looking forward to the most about your new role?

I’m just really looking forward to starting the role. This is a really important year for the University in terms of teaching and learning because of the Higher Education Review. I hope this is a year where we can get a lot done – there is already some great teaching taking place in the University but I want to lay the groundwork to make things even better for students.

What sorts of issues do you hope to address in your year as Education Officer?

I really want to make a much bigger thing out of the Teaching Excellence Awards because I think that the staff at Newcastle work tremendously hard and we need to acknowledge really excellent teaching when we see it. I’d like to open nominations for awards earlier this year and work harder to encourage students to nominate outstanding teachers in their Schools. I’d also like to publicise the whole Teaching Awards event much more through social media and to really promote the good teaching going on across the University.

I’m also particularly interested in ReCap as a resource for students. It was something that was really useful to me as a student, I used to work so hard in the lectures on my course to really follow exactly what the lecturers were saying and take it in and then use ReCap later to take notes. I just really didn’t want to miss anything! I know some staff have reservations about the system but I really want to work with them too to put the student case and also to see if we can find a solution which addresses their concerns.

What is the single most important thing you hope to improve?

I’d really like to address the issue of exam feedback and to make a lasting and positive change on that. I found it really frustrating as a student that I often couldn’t view any feedback on the exams I sat, much less get hold of the past papers without great difficulty. I think it’s really important for students to get feedback on all of their work, even exams, so that they can improve or even so they can see where they went wrong. I’d also like to see a more consistent approach to exam feedback when it is available, sometimes you get a little and sometimes a lot – I suppose it’s difficult for staff to know whether students will see it or whether they are just pouring words into the void and that might be discouraging – but I think it would be really good to address this issue across the University and see if we can get some sort of consistency. Just access to decent feedback on exam assessment. It’s that simple.

You can contact Matt through

You can find out more about his manifesto and his interests and approach as a Union Officer here.