Though we are gradually returning to a greater degree of normality, we recognise that the pandemic is not over. To continue supporting you, the University is making a series of assessment commitments for the 2021-22 academic year.
These are additional measures we will take around assessments for all taught students across the University, to ensure we mitigate for any ongoing effects of the pandemic. While we all hope for less disruption this year, we know you have already faced significant challenges – and the repercussions of this might continue for some time. We are committed to supporting you as we gradually transition back to more normal conditions.
1. Moderation and scaling
We will continue with robust moderation and scaling processes, to give extra reassurance of our high standards to students, employers, and the professional bodies who accredit your degrees.
Examination Boards will review and, where appropriate, scale marks to ensure the performance of your cohort is not out of line with previous (pre-pandemic) years. We will also continue additional internal and external scrutiny through our Faculty and University Examination Boards.
2. Degree classification
Every year, we look carefully at cases where students are just below a degree classification boundary.
Last year these ‘boundary zones’ were extended by 1% and this will remain for 2021-22. This is not a guarantee that you will receive the higher classification, but we will individually assess every case within the boundary zone.
Postgraduate taught students will be eligible to achieve a distinction even if they require a resit or receive a compensated mark in their profile.
3. Waiving resit fees
As last year, we will not charge any resit fees in 2021-22.
4. Changes to mitigating circumstances
Students are still facing mitigating circumstances – both related to the pandemic and for other reasons. We know there are still pressures on the NHS and students may find it very challenging to obtain evidence that was previously required for some mitigating circumstances requests (such as GP letters).
We will continue to accept mitigating circumstances requests for a variety of COVID-related and other issues, and we are now also broadening the range of evidence we will accept.
- Students can self-certify absence from teaching activities for up to seven days.
- We will not require a letter from a GP or healthcare provider for medical conditions. Instead we will accept alternative evidence which you may already have, or which you can get more easily.
- We will not require a death certificate to evidence cases of bereavement, but will accept alternative evidence such as a letter from a family member or an obituary.
- Students can seek mitigating circumstances for assessments impacted by IT failure.
- In cases of long-term or recurring medical or mental health conditions, we will only ask for evidence once (unless there are accreditation or fitness-to-practise requirements). Where these circumstances have an ongoing impact on your performance, we will automatically carry these requests forward from the first application through to your final Examination Board.
- We will process mitigating circumstances requests relating to assessment deadline extensions normally within five working days.
For further information, see our mitigating circumstances page.
We are working with our Students’ Union to improve our processes in the longer term. This includes developing a more consistent approach to resits and repeat years across the University, urgently improving our mitigating circumstances policies and ensuring they are applied consistently.
We want to support students to manage their assessment deadlines. However we will not offer automatic extensions to all students this year, as last year we received mixed feedback – with many not finding it to be an overall helpful measure.
Some issues included deadlines bunching up later in the semester and causing more stress, as well as delays in releasing feedback and marks for some students. We are also concerned that this system would not alert us to potentially serious health or personal issues, since students were not required to give a reason for their extension request.
Any arrangements that individual students have for automatic extensions through the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) will remain in place.
We always give you as much notice as possible of assessment deadlines, so you can plan your time in advance. We also co-ordinate across course units to try and spread out deadlines, though this is not always possible with so many students studying different combinations of units.
If you need an extension you should still apply for this through our mitigating circumstances procedures, and we will continue trying to find other ways to help all of our students manage their assessment deadlines.
We hope that our commitments to supporting your assessments this year will reassure you and help clarify these processes. As ever, we are here to support you – if you have any concerns or queries in relation to your studies or student life, please do reach out to your School student support team, or contact one of our many University student support services.
Professor April McMahon
Vice President for Teaching, Learning and Students