Durham introduces new safety net policy for 20/21 academic year

The policy sees a range of measures to ensure fair grading across all forms of assessment


In an email sent to all students earlier today by the Vice-Provost, it was outlined that there will in fact be a safety net in place this year. This year’s safety net consists of six main policies to ensure that educational attainment isn’t worsened due to the pandemic.

Formal online examinations have been given a 24 hour window, however if you are unable to sit the examination during this time due to caring responsibilities or illness – there is the new option to defer exams until the August resit period. All students will be able to do this and the new exam date will still be classed as their first attempt.

Although the university is offering no blanket extensions for summative work, students will now be allowed to submit extension requests for up to seven days without any supporting evidence detailing the need for delay.

A new standard form has been created which will allow students to submit an academic impact statement, detailing how their work has been affected. The form will be in use for dissertations and other major projects, with students able to outline limited access to resources as affecting their work. All forms will be taken into consideration when work is being marked.

For non-freshers, the previous years average mark will be considered in relation to this years grading. Where a students average mark is five or more points below the previous years, their work and record will be assessed for possible Covid-19 effects.

Under the university’s standard procedures for discretion, students whose degree classification narrowly misses a higher mark (up to two percentage points) will be automatically considered for a promotion in classification. In addition to which, Boards of Examiners will consider students outside of the two percentage point zone if it is believed that serious adverse circumstances justify the use of discretion.

Finally, departments will be responsible for reviewing assessments in line with previous years to ensure that marking is consistent.