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BUSINESS

Exam gaffe allows pupils to find answers online

Students sitting an entrance exam for some of France’s top business schools must have thought their dreams had come true when an essay posted online three months earlier appeared on their test, or at least for those with smartphones.

Exam gaffe allows pupils to find answers online

We’ve all been there. Stuck in an exam hall with a blank page in front of us, racking our brains for an answer, and praying for divine intervention.

Thousands of French pre-university students, taking a make or break entrance exam for five of France’s top business schools on Saturday, must have thought they had found it when they opened the paper.

To their shock and perhaps delight one of the questions was the same one to which a detailed ‘model answer’ had been available online since January.

Some students could not resist the chance to take advantage.

“Some people arrived with the answer on their smartphones, and didn’t miss the chance to go out to the toilets frequently, without being stopped by exam supervisors,” one student in Marseille told local website Marsactu.

Perhaps the biggest irony of the entire debacle centres on the essay question itself, which according to online newspaper Rue 89 concerned business ethics.

“Although motivated by good intentions, to what extent does a concern for responsible business conceal a certain hypocrisy?”

The examining body has informed the students involved that it had not yet decided whether the exam results would be invalidated, or the students forced to retake it, according to French magazine L’Express.

Ecricome, the body that organizes the test on behalf of prestigious business universities such as the Rouen Business School and Bordeaux School of Management, was left red-faced and had to apologize for what it called “an internal dysfunction.”

On their website, Ecricome offers students exam preparation assistance, including sample questions and answers, including model essays.

Those questions, however, are never supposed to appear on the test itself.

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BUSINESS

France’s TotalEnergies posts record €19.5 billion net profit

France's TotalEnergies said Wednesday that high oil and gas prices bolstered its net profit to a record €19.5 billion ($20.5bn) in 2022 and announced higher dividend payments for shareholders.

France's TotalEnergies posts record €19.5 billion net profit

The 28 percent gain would have been much higher save for the nearly €13.9 billion in charges linked to its leaving the Russian market, with adjusted profits excluding such exceptional items rising to €33.6 billion.

Nevertheless, the surge in oil and natural gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions was a major boost for TotalEnergies, as it was for its rivals.

The massive profits have sparked renewed debate about taxing windfall earnings to help fund measures to protect consumers from rampant inflation, including soaring energy prices.

Chairman and CEO of Total Energies Patrick Pouyanne speaks during a hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly in Paris, on November 9, 2022. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

TotalEnergies’ strong presence in the liquefied natural gas market also helped as European nations sought supplies from further afield after Russia cut supplies by pipeline.

“The company took full advantage of its global LNG portfolio,” chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.

TotalEnergies reported a 22 percent jump in LNG sales in the final three months of last year compared to the same period in 2021.

That helped drive an 11 percent gain in overall adjusted profits for the quarter to €7.06 billion, though Russia-related charges reduced that to €3.06 billion on a net basis.

The company increased final dividend payments for 2022, and said it could boost returns to shareholders even further this year.

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