IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ: Further information about the summer assessment period - 3rd April 2020
First, we hope that you, your friends and your families are safe and well. This is another long message but we do encourage you to read it all and discuss it with friends and family. The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for our University community, and we want to thank you for your ongoing support and patience. Thank you also for your engagement with online teaching and learning in the final week of term, which we recognise will not have been easy but we have been encouraged to hear positive feedback. We would like to put on record our gratitude to our academic colleagues, who demonstrated great innovation and commitment in shifting their teaching online at such short notice and under such difficult circumstances. We are hoping they are all going to take a much-needed rest over the upcoming extended closure period (10th-15th April inclusive). We have greatly appreciated the many kind messages of support to us and to colleagues across the University. These really mean a lot to all of us.
On 25th March, we wrote to you with the University’s principles and policy for the summer assessment period. We were pleased that these principles and policy were well received by the majority of students, and we continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions in response to your queries. We are extremely grateful for your continued patience as we have worked and continue to work through the detailed considerations required to achieve the best outcomes for all our undergraduate and postgraduate students.
In this message, we are providing further information in relation to the summer assessment period, including: ‘the no detriment policy’; the format of summer examinations and assessments; applying to defer your exams; and the release of exam results. We are also providing some information to help you in preparing for your examinations and assessments.
The ‘safety net’, or ‘no-detriment’ policy:
Since we communicated the ‘safety net’, or ‘no detriment’, policy on 25th March we have been working through the detailed process required to operate the ‘safety net’ across the wide diversity of our undergraduate and postgraduate taught degree programmes. We are pleased to be able to let you know that we have extended the no detriment policy so that it includes all assessments submitted by undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in the 19/20 academic year. Therefore, taught postgraduate dissertations will be included in the policy (please see the detail for how this will be handled) and deferred and referred assessments taken in August will also be covered.
Our aim continues to be to ensure the fairness and integrity of your Exeter degree, as well as to support you, our undergraduate and postgraduate students, through this difficult situation in a way that allows you to progress or be awarded. We are very grateful for your continued patience while we have worked through these details to achieve the best outcomes for all our students.
We have now published the ‘no detriment’ policy in full online, here. You will see that this is a complex policy, which has taken time to develop and which is not always simple to explain, but we have published it in full to give you transparency in relation to how we will calculate your benchmark to be used as the basis of your ‘safety net’.
We are very conscious that students who have undertaken industrial placements, study or work abroad placements during 2019/20 are requesting further clarity about how these policies apply to them. We are continuing to work through a number of complexities in relation to this, and will provide further guidance to these students via the FAQs on Thursday 9th April. We will, of course, be seeking to find the best way to give you as much security with respect to marks as other students.
Please note that in some circumstances programmes subject to professional regulation may not yet be permitted to apply the no detriment policy. If this is the case students will be communicated with separately by their respective College. Now that we have completed development of the policy, we will propose it to the regulatory bodies for approval.
The key principles of the policy are summarised as follows; please refer to the policy document for further elaboration:
- The benchmark will be based on actual achievement from the current academic stage as far as possible.
- In order for the benchmark to be reliable, it will be based on a mean mark derived from sufficient credit (equivalent to half the total credits of the relevant stage; a stage equates to an academic year for full-time students).
- If insufficient credit has been accumulated in the current stage, achievement in the previous University of Exeter-based stage will be included within the calculation.
- If there was no prior University of Exeter-based stage, then the benchmark will be provisional until, in the case of first-year Undergraduates or Postgraduate Taught students (PGTs), sufficient credit has been accumulated to confirm the benchmark.
- The benchmark will be calculated and applied after all other normal assessment processes have been completed (e.g. condonement, mitigation, scaling, late and academic misconduct penalties). Please see the relevant policies for further details.
- For students who pass the current stage during 19/20 academic year, the credit-weighted mean for all assessments contributing to the stage (academic year for full-time students) will be compared to the benchmark, and the higher of these two results will be used as their overall result for the stage.
- The student transcript will be annotated to reflect this policy.
The policy may seem complex (although at its heart it is fairly simple) and, therefore, we are providing you with some hypothetical examples to illustrate how it will work. You can find more here and the policy, including the formula to calculate a benchmark, should you wish to do so.
These are some undergraduate examples for a typical 3 year programme in which the final year mark has a weighting of 2 and the second year a weighting of 1 in the degree classification calculation.
I have got consistent 2.1 marks in my second year and final year, what does it mean for me?
- You don’t need to worry about calculating the benchmark, it will be in the 2.1 class and with your 2.1 performance in the 2nd year, you can be assured of a 2.1 as long as you complete and pass the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties
I have a stage average of 58 for the second year and have completed 50% of my final year credits with an average (weighted by credits) of 65; what does it mean for me?
- Your benchmark for the final year is 65 (you have completed enough credits). If you don’t improve on the benchmark, your degree mark will be in the 2.1 class [(58 + 65 * 2)/3 = 62.7] as long as you complete and pass the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties
I know I am borderline, have a stage average of 68 for the second year and have completed 50% of my final year credits with an average (weighted by credits) of 71; what does it mean for me?
- Your benchmark for the final year is 71 (you have completed enough credits). If you don’t improve on the benchmark, your degree mark will be in the 1st class [(68 + 71 * 2)/3 = 70] as long as you complete and pass the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties
I am a second year and have a stage average of 55 for the 1st year but have stepped up this year because I know it counts; I have completed 25% of my second year credits with an average (weighted by credits) of 65; what does it mean for me?
- Your benchmark for the second year is 60 (55 * 0.5 + 65 * 0.5). Of course, you can still improve on this in the summer assessments as you have several to come and once you have a full set of second year marks, we don’t need to use the 1st year marks. However, if you don’t improve on the benchmark, your stage mark will still be in the 2.1 class because it will be set to your benchmark as long as you complete and pass the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties.
I am a first year and I have completed 35% of my first year credits with an average (weighted by credits) of 65; what does it mean for me?
- You have a provisional benchmark of 65. It is provisional because you haven’t completed 50% of your credits. The June exam board (APAC) will look at your performance in the summer assessment and as long as it is close to is provisional benchmark they will set the mark at whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the year (stage) or your provisional benchmark as long as you complete and pass the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties.
Postgraduate programmes are more complicated but here is an example for a typical 1 year programme:
I am a postgraduate student and I have completed 50% of my credits with a mean (weighted by credits) of 65, I will complete another 20% of credits by June and submit my dissertation, which is worth 30% of my credits, in September; what does it mean for me?
- You have a benchmark of 65. The June APAC will compare your credit-weighted mean for the year (stage), based on all your assessments to that point, with the benchmark. As long as you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, if your credit-weighted mean is higher than your benchmark the exam board will increase your benchmark to your new, higher credit-weighted mean mark; otherwise your benchmark will be unchanged.
- When you have completed your dissertation, as long as you have completed and passed the year and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your degree mark will be set to whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the whole year or your benchmark.
We hope that, even if the policy is necessarily technical, these examples give you the assurance you need about the way that we are seeking to support you to succeed. We hope that over the remaining months of the academic year you will be able to focus on looking after yourself and those about you and on preparing for the summer assessments that are the capstone of your learning through the academic year. We wish you every success.
We will continue to add further FAQs online, so that we can respond as effectively as possible to you, and would welcome your questions to help us do this. We have included answers to many of the questions already raised in the policy document. To raise a question for us to consider, please email email@example.com and include ‘Safety Net FAQ’ in your subject line.
Details of your summer examinations and assessments:
As we communicated on 25th March, there are three possible formats your examinations and assessments will take (please see our previous message for full explanations). These are:
- An open-book non-invigilated paper of no fixed duration that must be completed in a specified 24 hour period in your own time
- An open-book non-invigilated paper that must be completed in a specified 24 hour period in your own time but with a fixed duration. The duration will be adjusted with respect to relevant ILPs.
- An alternative coursework assessment taken over a number of weeks.
We have developed an online web form through which you can find the format that your module examination or assessment will take, and the date it will be undertaken. Please click here to access the web form, which is searchable by module code. Please note that all examinations falling under Option 2 above remain subject to confirmation pending technical assessment, to ensure that we can have full confidence that our approach is sufficiently robust for you to complete your assessments. Note that you can also access your examination timetable via MyTimetable, or by the iExeter app. Please ensure that the device you are accessing the timetable with is set to British Summer Time (BST).
More detail, including instructions for accessing and completing papers and the time at which your examination will go live, will be sent to you by your colleges in the coming weeks.
Deferrals and Mitigation:
Last week we confirmed that, in light of the disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, and the variable impacts upon students depending on individual circumstances, any student concerned about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on their ability to perform may ask to defer all of their remaining assessments for this academic year until either the next assessment window (later this summer) or to next academic year.
To this end, we have developed a simplified and accelerated mitigation process through which you can apply to defer your examinations and assessments, with no requirement for evidence. Please see our website for further details of this process, and to complete the application form – note, from this webpage you can select options to defer all of your assessments, or one or more where short-lived circumstances impact on your ability to complete some assessments but not others. You can also apply for mitigation or deferral should you experience technical issues or IT failure during an examination using the link above.
If you wish to defer all assessments the form will open at 12:00 BST (midday) on Monday 6th April, and close at 23:59 BST on Friday 1st May. Once again,we would urge you to consider carefully before applying for a deferral, and to talk any such decision through with academic tutors and your family and friends. If you are an international student considering this option, we encourage you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about any implications for your visa status. You can also seek support from the advice teams in the Students’ Guild (Exeter) and Students’ Union (Cornwall).
We will endeavour to ensure that any student who attempts to complete assessments this summer, will be able to progress to the award (if they are a finalist or Masters student) or progress to the next stage (if they are a non-finalist).
Please note, PGCE students should refer to the information and instructions already provided to them, from the Head of Initial Teacher Education, regarding award of PGCE and QTS, how to request extensions and the summer term online content.
Examination Boards, Results Release and August Examinations:
At the end of the summer examination and assessment period, all results will be scrutinised at the level of each module and of each individual student at the University’s Assessment Progression and Awarding Committees (APACs). To allow colleagues to undertake marking, and enable us to make considered recommendations in all cases under these difficult circumstances, these have been delayed by two weeks and will now take place from 22nd June to 1st July. This means you will receive your grades and outcomes from summer assessments slightly later than originally planned, on 8th July.
Where you have applied to defer examinations and assessments to the next assessment window, this will be during the summer with exams scheduled to take place from 3rd-21st August. We will publish timetables for these examinations as early as possible in the week commencing Monday 20th July. Note that these examinations will follow the same formats as those described for the May examination period.
Students eligible for Individual Learning Plans:
We will be making appropriate adjustments for students who are eligible for additional specific provisions during examinations or assessments in accordance with their ILP. Additional adjustments for students with Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) will be managed on a case-by-case basis. Students should contact the AccessAbility Service, or Wellbeing Services (for mental health conditions), by 5:00pm Thursday 9th April if you have any concerns about your ability to complete the May exams.
Concerns about taking remote examinations:
If you have concerns about taking a remote examination or assessment, for example because you do not have a computer or internet access at home, or do not feel you have suitable space to undertake the assessments, please contact us on at email@example.com. We will work collaboratively with you to find a solution that works for you.
You can visit StudyZone Digital for guidance on revision and time management. StudyZone Digital is also developing guidance for approaching an open book exam. You will also continue to receive subject-specific information from your departments.
If you have any questions about the exam process and policies please contact the Coronavirus enquiry team on firstname.lastname@example.org and they will get back to you. If you have a specific query about your module exam/assessment or timetable please speak to your College Hub Info Point. Please be patient and we will respond to your query as soon as we can.
We will continue to communicate and update you throughout the coming weeks, and are again grateful for your patience as we work through these very difficult challenges that we all face. We again wish you the very best for these upcoming assessments, and that you and those near and dear to you stay safe and well.
Professor Tim Quine