Cardiff University harshly marks down students’ recent assessments

For some students this has meant the difference between a 1st and 2:1

Cardiff University students have found their recent assessments have been marked down, and their marks have changed under a new system introduced during the pandemic.

Whilst some schools, including the School of Modern Languages and School of Biosciences, have offered reasons for the scale down, such as the pandemic, other schools have given no reason at all.

A first year English Literature student told The Tab Cardiff: “I didn’t get a reason for why, but as an English Lit first year, pretty much all of us felt we were marked harshly for one of our final assessments.”

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We are aware of concerns raised by some of our students. Marks from a small number of modules have been adjusted down as part of the University’s scaling process. This has been done to maintain consistency and academic standards.”

One student told The Tab Cardiff: “In one of my modules, I received a 68 for an assessment which has now been remarked and given a 0.”

Another student said: “[she] was marked down a whole categorical marking band for not including a page number in a text citation.”

This is not the first time that students have been harshly scaled down.

A Cardiff student told The Tab Cardiff: “It hasn’t happened to our year (that we know of) but last year MPharm students had their grades massively scaled down.”

“Of the exams taken in the summer, two were scaled down by 15% and the other two by 5%. At the time I was gutted and emailed my tutor alongside the VP education but nothing was done to address the situation.”

She added: “A large proportion of our year were working in pharmacies throughout the lockdowns, so to downgrade our marks on top of the stress of that and studying through a pandemic seemed really unfair!”

Some students from the School of Modern Languages realised they had only been dropped by 2%, but this has made the difference for them achieving a 1st and a 2:1. They also sent an open letter to Cardiff University voicing their concerns over the scaling down of assessments, especially during a pandemic.

Another student told The Tab Cardiff that the School of Mathematics informed them in an email of marking their cohorts down “as they all did better than previous years so the mark had to curve”. The student also said: “they pulled a few modules that were lower than previous years”.

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “The University’s approach to scaling was developed in consultation with the Students’ Union and, in the interests of openness and transparency, was published on the student intranet. If scaling was applied by an Examining Board, the action taken was communicated to students to ensure complete transparency of the decisions taken.”

“University Examining Boards are independent and they review the marks given by examiners. Examining Boards may, after careful consideration, decide to adjust (or scale) assessment or module marks upwards or downwards. Importantly, this process adjusts the marks for an individual assessment or module to ensure that the academic standards achieved by students are equivalent to previous years.”

“Decisions to scale marks are not taken routinely. They are only taken after careful consideration of the available information. The decision also takes account the views of an independent external examiner, usually an academic from a similar discipline at another UK university, who provides impartial and independent advice and comments on the comparability with standards at other UK universities.”

To help combat any stress felt by students, they said: “Whilst we are unable to comment on individual cases, if a student is concerned about the use of scaling and their marks we would encourage them to raise their concerns directly with the University.”

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