Typhoon season in southeast Asia often brings devastation to vast areas as tropical cyclones travel along the coastlines, threatening chaos and destruction. In September 2018 Typhoon Mangkhut was no exception and brought gusts of over 230 km/h. This prompted the Hong Kong Observatory to issue a No.10 warning signal - the highest on their scale!
Amidst the worry and warnings, test-takers were likely anxiously that their exams might be cancelled but the British Council teams implemented their Business Contingency Plans and liaised with relevant colleagues to ensure the exams went ahead as safely and as soon as practicable despite the weather.
One of our clients, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries wrote to say:
'The British Council has been instrumental in helping the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries reschedule a number of our exams in September 2018 following Typhoon Mangkhut and gave us the opportunity to provide the best service as possible to our members. The collaborative nature of our working relationship with the British Council staff enabled us to rearrange these exams at short notice and appreciate the efforts of staff involved to make this happen.'
The Exams Team, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Read how our staff implemented their business contingency plans
In light of the risk of Super typhoon Mangkhut hitting Hong Kong and affecting exams scheduled on 17 September, the Exams team had proposed a contingency plan to University of Law on 14 September.
After the plan was approved by the University, the arrangement was shared with affected candidates on the same day. Even though there wasn’t any typhoon signal hoisted on 17 September, candidates could not arrive at the British Council as scheduled due to suspension of public transport services.
The team has quickly adopted the contingency plan and moved the exam to that evening, after train services resumed to normal in the afternoon. Throughout the whole process, all the parties (candidates, examination board, invigilators and BC Exams member) were well informed. The exam could be held on the same day with minimum disruption.
Ruby Lo, Exams Operations Manager (Distribution Exams)
On September 12th 2018, the Guangzhou local government issued the notification of Super Typhoon Mangkhut which was likely to strike Hong Kong directly in next few days, probably on September 16th. It was the strongest typhoon in the recent decade in China and predicted to bring widespread impacts on the nearby cities including Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The British Council Guangzhou Office was fully aware of it and as the Exams Team, we has been well trained for handling contingencies including extreme weather conditions and we started to look into the scheduled exams which might be affected.
We had IFoA exams in Shenzhen SEG centre, one of the British Council off-site venues, scheduled on September 17th (CT5) and September 18th (CT4). We kept monitoring the situation in the following days.
On September 14th, the IFoA also contacted the Guangzhou office with their concerns about the typhoon impact on CT5 exam. According to the Business Continuity Plan, the Distribution Exams Guangzhou Team had escalated the issue to senior management team, worked out three contingency plans and advised the exam board to re-schedule the CT5 exam after considering various aspects including the feasibility of transferring the candidates to sit the exam in other British Council venues, cost of exam re-scheduling, re-deployment of test day personnel and the health and safety of candidate.
After careful consideration, IFoA decided to postpone the CT5 exam to September 25th, and the CT4 exam would commence in the morning of 18th September as scheduled. The Distribution Exams Guangzhou Team kept close monitoring and reported the latest situation to the IFoA after the decision was made, to ensure the smooth delivery of the exams.
With the joint efforts from IFoA, British Council Guangzhou Office and Shenzhen SEG centre, the extreme weather condition did not significantly affect the delivery of exam for September session. The communication between the British Council and IFoA was really smooth.
Thanks to the colleagues from IFoA, Melanie Fryatt, Fiona McNeil and Ellie James who provided timely response and support including communicating the decision of rescheduling, sending new papers etc. In addition, our venue partner, the SEG centre provided huge support by coordinating the test room and venue staff for rescheduled exam so that we could confirm the accommodation with the exam board within a short time, which is a clear demonstration of strong local partnership that the British Council has established and maintained.
Angelia Pan, Distribution Examinations Manager China | Examinations Services