Explained: Exeter Uni’s ‘no detriment’ policy situation

Here is what S4AM are doing

Exeter students have been pushing for the university to install protective policies to ensure that our grades are not negatively impacted by the pandemic. Exeter University has repeated they can’t repeat the last year’s policy and the “no-detriment” policy, as we knew it last year, isn’t possible this year.

Students for Academic Mitigation (S4AM) have been aware of this and so, for months, have been leading the charge for an alternative safety net, but have so far been met with resistance.

This is why they’re organising #SaveOurGrades day on the 13th of January, a day for Exeter Students to express their frustration at the University through commenting on University social media platforms or messaging and emailing staff. Posts can be ‘copy and pasted from the resources we will share on the day, or we welcome students to share their own experiences’, according to S4AM’s Facebook page.

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Other universities such as York, Leeds Beckett, Sussex and more have proposed alternative protection policies. One example is discounting the lowest 60 credits from both second and third year and basing the final degree classification on the best 180 credits.

Another option is allowing people to change the weighting of their second and third years, enabling third year students to base a larger amount of their degree on their only slightly interrupted second year, or current second years to move greater weighting to next year, which will hopefully be impacted less.

Students for Academic Mitigation are asking Exeter to consider all possible options, and in an email sent to law students, they said: “The university is considering other systematic and individual approaches” and that they “await further information” from the uni.

The “no-detriment” policy from last year, relied on a benchmark, which consisted of an average of all grades achieved in that academic year, pre-pandemic. Because almost everyone had some sort of mark for that year before the virus hit in March, an average could be calculated for each individual.

A registrar email, sent out in late March 2020, confirmed this meant “your final academic year average is the same as, or higher than, the average you have attained up to Sunday 15th March.

“If you achieve higher marks in assessments submitted and examinations undertaken after Sunday 15th march then you will be able to raise your mark for the year.”

However, because this entire academic year has been affected by the pandemic, and last year’s grades were adapted by a no-detriment policy, there is no applicable data the uni can use to make an algorithm like the one from last year.

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