To ensure that you are well supported to submit your best work in the upcoming assessments, we have put in place a safety net and supportive measures to protect you from academic disadvantage. We want to make sure that the pandemic doesn’t affect you unfairly, and that you’re still able to demonstrate your full academic potential.
This comprehensive support package, detailed below, is designed to help you to achieve. We have worked closely on these supportive measures in partnership with the Students’ Union who have continued to provide feedback and ideas on what support is most needed.
Ensuring all teaching and assessments are designed within the context of COVID-19
This year has been different to last academic year in that we designed our approach to teaching and assessment to take account of the pandemic from the beginning.
Throughout the year, your teaching has been planned to take account of the impact of the pandemic. We have developed adapted forms of assessment to recognise the difficult circumstances in which many of you have been studying. These allow you to demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have developed over the course of the year. These assessments have flexibility and inclusivity built into their design, as we know that this was a key concern for you.
Assessments including coursework, practicals and exams have been reconfigured to take account of the circumstances. Your assessments will only be based on the subject matter that has made up your learning this year. You will not be asked to demonstrate your ability on topics or skills which you have not been taught, or using any resources or materials that you have not been able to access.
We have compiled a number of resources to ensure you've got everything you need to successfully complete any assessments, and indeed any online learning, from home. You may have also seen our recent emails about the University’s expanded Emergency Support Fund. If you are struggling financially and this is affecting your ability to study then please let us know. We also still have further IT support available for students who don’t have access to the right equipment at home.
Providing a 14 day extension for all written coursework deadlines
You told us this was important for you, so we have agreed that you can have a 14 day extension on written coursework this term if you need it. We want to make this as easy as possible for you, so we have also removed the need for you to provide any supporting evidence. We are introducing a simple process so that you can notify us that you are taking an extension, and will provide details here on UniHub. In some modules, your Module Leader will have already moved back the coursework date for all students. If this has already occurred then you will not be able to request an additional extension.
Giving higher degree classifications to borderline students
Extenuating Circumstances will be taken into account for all students in relation to any assessment taken since March 2020. This means that we will consider your results in the context of the pandemic. If you are a final year student on the borderline between classifications, we will move you to the higher class. If you are a continuing student, you will receive the maximum amount of compensation allowed (for some modules this is limited by professional body requirements) and you may also be able to progress into the next year of your studies even if you have not achieved the normal amount of credit.
Providing free re-sit opportunities that will be uncapped
Normally, if you fail an assessment and have to re-sit it, the marks you can achieve are capped, so you cannot achieve top grades for your work. This year, we are allowing an uncapped resit for all failed assessments. Furthermore, unlike many other universities, we don’t charge you to re-sit an assessment.
Ensuring our approach to deferrals is flexible
We strongly encourage you to utilise the above supportive measures and submit your best work in the upcoming assessment period. However, we understand that some students will be going through additional challenges and that completing assessments within the academic year may just not be possible.
Our expanded Extenuating Circumstances provision will allow all students to defer assessments due between March and May 2021 and to submit in July/August 2021. This may be of particular relevance to students who have children or caring responsibilities who have additional childcare challenges at the moment. Logging a deferral can be done via myUniHub.
Any student who successfully passes any deferred assessments in July/August 2021 will then be able to start the next academic year in September 2021 as normal.
Maintaining the quality of your degrees for future employers
We considered whether to apply a new degree algorithm for finalists this year. This would have meant that only some of your module results would contribute towards your degree classification. After careful consideration, we felt that this was not the approach we should take. The University reached agreement with the Students’ Union on all other supportive measures, but on this one issue we differed for the following reasons.
It is critically important that we safeguard the quality and value of your degree for your future employers and your future career prospects, and a new algorithm was likely to undermine that confidence. We implemented a more generous algorithm last year because of the changes we had to make to assessment at very short notice. This year, we have planned adapted assessments to take account of the impact of COVID-19 and to ensure that you are assessed fairly given the difficult circumstances in which you have had to work this year.
We know that many of you will have endured particular hardship this year and if this applies to you, we strongly encourage you to utilise the additional support measures outlined above. Please do contact your Programme Leader if you have any questions about how these supportive measures will be implemented on your programme of study. We would also urge you to consult UniHub further guidance on the arrangements the University has put in place to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your studies, particularly around assessments.
Reach out for support, especially if you have specific personal circumstances
In response to our email last week, we heard from students about particular hardships or challenges that they are facing, which make them concerned about their assessments. I want to thank these students for reaching out and I encourage anyone with specific personal circumstances which have impacted on your studies to report these so that they can be taken into account. We will be applying extenuating circumstances to all students at Assessment Boards.
Please talk with your Programme Leader if you require any further details about support within your programme of study. You can find more details about how to access the support available on UniHub. This includes access to financial support, mental health and wellbeing and IT equipment. Also, if you just want to talk with another student, you can now request a call from one of our trained Student Support Callers. We will also develop a set of FAQs on the range of measures and assessment next week which will be published on UniHub.
Ensuring fairness in your assessments
We are confident that the supportive measures that make up our no detriment policy for this year will ensure you are not disadvantaged. After discussion with the Students’ Union, who highlighted many of the challenging issues our student community are facing, we have put in place an additional safety net as part of our overall No Detriment provision.
Assessment Boards will now be reviewing module grades against the achievements of students prior to the pandemic and we will upwardly adjust where there are significant differences to grades. Our approach is in line with what other universities are doing to ensure fairness in assessments.
We have listened to student responses and the approach the University has taken has been carefully designed to be fair in the current circumstances. we hope that the change outlined above, taken with the comprehensive support already in place, meets the concerns that have been raised.
We also recognise from some of the correspondence we have received that students have experienced significant personal challenges. We would encourage you to report these to your Programme Leader or through our student support services so that they can be taken into account in addition to the general measures in place.