Cardiff University announce introduction of safety net policy

Scaling will occur in cases of ‘unexplained variation’

Cardiff University have confirmed that they will be putting a safety-net policy in place to ensure fair marking amidst the difficulties and disruptions of the pandemic. This comes after many weeks of students feeling left in the dark about plans for a safety net, with many creating petitions and voicing their concerns online.

The announcement was made in an email sent out to the student population.

Within the email, they stated that through reviewing national feedback from the Russell Group of Students’ Unions and from the student body, they decided on this newly reviewed approach which will ensure that students are completely supported throughout this extremely challenging year.

Some of the new features of this approach include:

• Examining boards ensuring that the standards achieved by students in 2020/21 are comparable to previous years, to make sure that there is no disadvantage. Module marks for the 2020/21 cohorts will be compared with those of previous years and scaling will be applied if there is “unexplained variation”.

• An opportunity for uncapped resits during the 2020/21 academic year. So if you fail a module, there will be no disadvantage by capping of resit marks.

• Changes to the Extenuating Circumstances Policy that permit students to self-certify if they have extenuating circumstances, granting an automatic two-week extension for coursework, and also to defer examinations or time-limited assessments.

There has also been a revised rule to permit the Examining Board to classify degrees based on the profile of marks, where it benefits the undergraduate students, by calculating an alternative degree average mark which excludes the assessments completed from the 16th March 2020 until the end of the 2019/20 academic year.

The university, however,  is not applying an individual algorithmic ‘average mark B’ approach for modules in 2020/21. This is because, unlike 2019/20, there are “insufficient” pre-Covid-19 assessments completed on which progression or degree outcomes could reliably be based.

The email from the University stated: “All these measures will ensure that we remain fully committed to ensuring the fair assessment of our students, while at the same time recognising that this year’s cohorts have face a considerable number of challenges.”

Postgraduate students are covered by a variation until the end of the January period. Extension of these variation beyond the end of January are currently under review.

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