UEA introduces ‘safety net’ for students

UEA has announced a ten-point plan for undergraduate assessment in summer 2020 after concerns the coronavirus pandemic may affect students’ grades. This comes as close to 1,800 students signed a petition calling for the University to “implement a no-detriment policy for end of year exams”.

Harriet Davies, 21, is a third year Chemistry student at UEA who founded the petition. In a statement she said: “We are calling for UEA to follow in the footsteps of other top UK universities, such as Exeter and Edinburgh, and implement a no-detriment policy for end of year exams. This past year of our university education has been heavily impacted by strikes and now COVID-19, meaning that we have had severely limited access to teaching and resources.  

“This petition is asking UEA to take into account these extraordinary and unprecedented conditions, with the introduction of a no-detriment policy. Many students will be struggling to study in an environment that will not allow them to demonstrate their full potential, as well as being negatively impacted by mental or physical illness during this terrifying time.”

Other universities around the UK have introduced measures such as using a student’s average mark in Semester One as a year average should their year averages be lower than their Semester Two assessments. 

In an email to students UEA’s Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Neil Ward reassured students the University are working to “ensure that students are not disadvantaged and there is a ‘safety net’ in place to protect their degree classification”. 

The ten-point plan as listed by Prof Ward is:

1) We have moved all teaching and learning activity on-line. Staff are preparing teaching and support sessions for delivery online for the remaining teaching weeks of the term after Easter and, for those on PSRB courses, for the duration of the programme timetable for this academic year.

2) We have reviewed and redesigned all assessments due from 13th March 2020, liaising with PSRBs where required. We will ensure we only assess learning necessary to demonstrate the achievement of course-level learning outcomes. This will mean that some assessments may now cover more than one module, and some will be waived completely. 

3) For Year 0 and Year 1 students marks do not contribute to their degree classification. This means that we have been able to waive a considerable proportion of assessment, except in a small number of specific circumstances (including where PSRBs govern curriculum and assessment) in order to remove additional stress from students. 

4) For Year 2, 3 and 4 students (and Year 5 for medical students), we have reviewed all upcoming assessment items and have made modifications wherever possible to ensure that there is an opportunity to participate while reducing the number of assessments.

5) We have introduced blanket extensions of 10 working days for all written assignments without the need to make a request or to provide any evidence. If students feel that this still will not be enough time for them to complete their assessed work, we advise them not to commence the task at this time and we will give them another first attempt opportunity in the next assessment session in August.

6) In the case of exams or an assessment ‘event’, any student who is not able to sit an assessment will be automatically provided with another first attempt opportunity in the next assessment session without the need for request or provision of any evidence.

7) We have re-designed examinations that were scheduled for the summer examination period as online assessment exercises so they can be taken by all students wherever they will be in the world and at a time that suits them within a 23 to 24-hour window. Some of the scheduled examinations have now been replaced with a coursework assignment and others have been waived altogether.

8) For final year students not on PSRB courses, the requirements are:

            a) Passing all ‘core’ modules;

            b) Achieving a credit weighting average mark for the year of 40%;

c) Passing modules worth at least 80 credits in total.

9) For penultimate year students not on PSRB courses, (Year 2 for Undergraduate Bachelors students and Year 3 for Integrated Masters students), the requirements are:

            a) Passing all ‘core’ modules;

            b) Achieving a credit weighting average mark for the year of 40%;

            c) Passing modules worth at least 80 credits in total.

10) If the academic year 2019/20 is a counting year for degree classification purposes but is not your penultimate year, (for example, if you are a second year student on an Integrated Masters degree course), we will use the 2020/21 year average mark if it is higher, instead of the 2019/20 mark, in calculating your degree classification.

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Bryan Mfhaladi

March 2021
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