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Message to all students - 25 November 2021

Dear Students

Key points

  • Sometimes when you’re at University things don’t go quite to plan. Our policies are designed to support you to succeed, even in the event of unforeseen disruption to your studies.
  • We’ve introduced a new mitigation tool, where you can request a one-week extension to coursework directly in BART, without needing to provide evidence (see below for details on how often this is available to you, students with Individual Learning Plans and more).
  • For exam deferrals, and assessment extensions longer than a week, supporting evidence is required again (as per pre-COVID times).
  • Our robust approach to module/assessment scaling for 2020/21 will remain for this academic year.
  • We will continue to use the expanded ‘Borderline Zone’ from 2020/21 for degree awards this academic year, which means looking at those students on the border between degree classifications, who have undertaken study counting towards their degree in the 2020/21 academic year, to see if they should be awarded the higher classification.
  • Some students will be entitled to consideration under aspects of the previous emergency policies.

Full message

Our Continuing Commitment to Your Success and the Integrity of Your Degree in 2021/22

We hope the term is going well and that you’re enjoying life back on campus.

Although this year is very different from the last, we have continued to review our policies and approach and wanted to update you about some changes to mitigation and other elements of academic and pastoral student support.

The University, Students’ Union in Cornwall and Students’ Guild in Exeter have been working in partnership to ensure that the approach taken for 2021/22 is proportionate to the improving circumstances, takes account of the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic and delivers real benefits to students. Our approach is summarised below:

1.    Introducing a  New Approach to Individual Mitigation for All Students

If illness or unexpected personal circumstances affect your ability to complete an assessment or exam, our Mitigation Process is here for you. For the 2021/22 academic year and beyond, we have created a new and more flexible approach to mitigation:

  • For coursework assignments, you can add an extension of one week directly within the BART submission system yourself, without providing evidence. This option is available once per assessment. You can use it up to four times over a 12 month period (this is unlimited for students with Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) supporting extensions. If you are unsure, please check your ILP documentation or contact You may add an evidence-free extension up to one month before, or up to 24 hours after, the submission deadline.
  • For assignment extensions of longer than one week, or if you’ve used up all your self-certification options on BART, you will need to provide independent, supporting evidence to support mitigation requests, as was needed prior to COVID-19. The same is true with regard to exam deferral requests. You can find a list of appropriate evidence examples here. This approach to evidence allows us to gather information and understand the exceptional circumstances impacting students over time.
  • Coursework extensions will be granted in weekly blocks, but please check whether your new deadline falls on a day when the University is closed (e.g. a UK Bank Holiday or University closure day). You can still submit on those days but there won’t be anyone on hand if you have an issue.
  • You must still apply for mitigation within 24 hours after your assessment deadline, and you can apply no more than one month in advance. Some assignments aren’t eligible for self-certification because of the practicalities of the course, and/or because they must meet specific requirements (e.g. from professional, legal or regulatory organisations). If your assignment is eligible, this will be noted on the BART link for the assignment.

Please read our mitigation webpages for more information. If you have any questions, please contact your Hub/Info Point.

2. Maintaining a Robust Approach to Scaling of Modules

Scaling is the systematic adjustment of a set of marks for a module or assessment in order to ensure that they properly reflect the achievements of the students in meeting the module learning outcomes. Scaling is a normal part of the work of Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees (APACs, or exam boards). During 2020/21 we enhanced our approach to the scaling of module marks, and we will continue with this approach this year to correct any significant deviation from historic, pre-COVID-19 trends.

Please read the FAQs on Scaling for more information on what scaling is, and how and when it is undertaken.

3. Continuing with the Expanded Definition of the ‘Borderline Zone’

Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees (APACs, or exam boards) have authority to award to each student close to the border between degree classifications a higher class of degree, where at least half the student’s weighted credits lie in the higher class. In the 2020/21 academic year, we expanded this ‘Borderline Zone’, a measure to encourage you to continue to aim high in all of your modules, while recognising and mitigating the risk posed by potential variability in academic performance during the 2020/21 academic year.

For students who undertook study counting towards their degree in the 2020/21 academic year, we will continue to use the expanded ‘Borderline Zone’ exceptionally applied in the 2020/21 academic year when determining the most appropriate degree classification. In light of the return to more normal conditions this academic year, for all other students we will apply the ‘Standard Borderline Zone’ in degree classification decisions.

Please read the FAQs on the Borderline Zone for more information on what this is and how degree classifications are considered.

4. Students whose programme of study spanned academic years

There are some students whose programmes of study will have spanned the academic years most impacted by the pandemic, who will be entitled to consideration under some aspects of previous emergency policies and procedures when they complete a stage or reach their final year. These students will be identified to ensure that the correct information, guidance and recommendations are presented to APACs when their final degree classification is being determined. 

Please contact your Hub/Info Point in the first instance if you are unsure whether this applies to you. 

It’s vitally important for us to know about any challenges you are facing, so that we can do what we can to support you. We therefore strongly encourage you to stay in touch with your personal tutor, who can help you to access the right support if and when you need it. The advice services of the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union are also able to advise you on the options available to you.

Please continue to work with us and let us know how we can help and support you – the best way to do this is by talking to your Students’ Guild and Students’ Union student representatives (SSLC members), who are pivotal in representing your views to the University. Click the links above to find out more about who your reps are, and what they do.

As always, our commitment is to enable all students to succeed, gaining the awards that they deserve, whilst maintaining high academic standards and the integrity of their degrees. We wish you every success, and we will continue to support you every step of the way.

Best wishes, 


Professor Tim Quine

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education)
University of Exeter


Professor Rob Freathy

Academic Dean for Students
University of Exeter


Stevie Preece

President (Exeter)
Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union



Bella Enozi


Vice President


Exeter Students’ Guild