King’s announces important updates about graduation and assessments due to coronavirus

Graduation will now be postponed and not cancelled

King’s has confirmed that the main assessment period would be extended to nine weeks, first-year assessments would not contribute towards degrees and the July graduation ceremonies are only delayed and not cancelled.

The university has extended the main assessment period to nine weeks and it will start at 27 April 2020 just as planned and run until 26 June 2020, in order to spread the assessments and cater for the individual circumstances.

The third assessment period would be running slightly later than planned, from 24 August to 4 September. They also outlined that individual departments would get in touch with students shortly regarding new alternative assessment arrangements.

The university has also announced that for first-year students, the grades from this year would not contribute to their final degree and their progression to the second year would be on a pass/fail basis. However, the grades received by first-year students would still appear on their transcripts alongside other marks and would carry a not to indicate that these assessments were conducted under exceptional circumstances associated with the pandemic.

Finally, the university clarified that the July graduation ceremonies are not cancelled (final year students rejoice), and are delayed. The future dates are currently being explored and would be announced at a later date.

The email reads:

“Dear Students,

“Thank you all for your understanding and patience at what is a very unsettling and challenging time for everyone in our community. We hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.  Please continue to follow the official government advice where you are.

“Today I wanted to update you on the arrangements that we are putting in place to continue to support your education in the coming weeks. I know exams and assessments are very much on your minds. Therefore, my first update is about the provisions we are making for exams and assessments for all students and some changes we are introducing for first year undergraduate assessments. I also wanted to give you an update about July graduation ceremonies and remind you of the support that is available to all of you from the university.

“These are uncertain times and we recognise that your individual circumstances will vary considerably. I would like to assure you that all possible steps will be taken to understand your individual situation and ensure that nobody is disadvantaged. We are here to support you.

“1. Exams and assessment arrangements (please note that this section does not apply to students enrolled on fully online programmes)

“I know there are a wide range of very different views and preferences about exams and assessments and recognise that some of you have very strong opinions on this topic. In deciding how to proceed, we have listened and considered carefully the views and concerns that have been expressed. I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

“Our intention is to proceed with the spring/summer assessment period for all students. First and foremost, we are committed to maintaining the quality of your education and your degree from King’s, and feel it is important to provide opportunities for you to continue your studies and complete your academic year. We wish to make sure that you have an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned, and that your outcomes remain a fair reflection of your academic performance.

“Our approach is to ensure that arrangements are inclusive, realistic, fair for all and that no student is disadvantaged, either by the current situation or by your individual circumstances. I have set out below an initial summary of the changes that we will be making to support you.

“These are the steps that we will take for all assessments:

“• Extended assessment period:

“We will extend the main assessment period from five weeks to nine weeks. The main assessment period will now run from 27 April 2020 (as planned) to 26 June 2020. An extended assessment period allows us to spread your assessments out if we need to; accommodate extensions where they are needed; and of course, cater for your circumstances – and those of staff – in relation to illness, caring responsibilities, and other considerations.

“Some of you may not experience many changes to the period dedicated to your exams, but the additional flexibility is important in allowing your faculties and departments some options in managing this process.

“Assessment Boards will take place in mid-July, slightly later than originally planned. We will also continue with the third assessment period, which again will take place slightly later than normal, running between 24 August and 4 September.
“• Assessment formats
“In many cases, assessments will be conducted in alternative formats to allow you to complete them remotely. These may include replacing unseen, timed exams with open-book exams, or alternative forms of coursework.

“We are working to consolidate assessments and, for many of you, the overall volume of assessments will be reduced.

“We would like to assure you that we are planning to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged by their geographical location, or domestic or personal circumstances.

“You will receive further details shortly from us about the measures we are taking, and what to do if you are concerned or anxious about your assessments. These measures will include a range of options for deferral where you are unable to sit exams or complete your assessments, and simplified procedures for mitigating circumstances. Please be assured that we are here to help you.

“• Information on assessment arrangements

“Faculties and departments are currently finalising details for the assessment period. As all faculties work to different schedules and requirements, and there are some variations relating to assessment periods as well, each of you will receive full details of your individual assessment arrangements from your faculties directly. Our intention is to have this information ready for you in the first week of April. We ask for your patience as we prepare these arrangements.

“2. Important information about undergraduate first-year assessments

“After careful deliberation, we have decided to make a change to our arrangements for current first-year students. Your grades from this year’s assessments will not contribute towards your final degree classification. Progression to your second year will be on a pass/fail basis.

“We are very aware of all the hard work that you will already have put in, and the work that you will still put in, where you are able to do so, during the forthcoming assessment period. Your first year remains a fundamentally important part of your degree, allowing you to develop skills essential to the remainder of your programme, and to allow you to progress to your second year. We are committed to recognising your work and allowing you to demonstrate your performance and achievements. Your assessments will still be marked, and you will still receive a grade for your work, which will appear alongside your other marks for this year on your transcripts. We want to assure you that no student will be disadvantaged in their final degree classification by these measures.

“At the same time, we recognise that your performance may not meet expectations over this difficult period. All transcripts for current students will carry a note to indicate that some assessments were conducted under exceptional circumstances associated with the pandemic. Where this has been the case, these measures to remove the first year from your degree classification ensure that no negative impact from your first year is exerted on your final outcome further down the line, and we hope gives you some relief from this anxiety.

“As set out above, we are seeking to consolidate assessments and will be seeking to streamline the requirements for first-year assessments wherever possible.

“3. July Graduation Ceremonies

“Yesterday our Chairman, Lord Geidt, wrote to all students due to graduate this summer to let them know that unfortunately, our July graduation ceremonies will not be able to go ahead at the time we had planned. Students due to graduate will still complete their programmes of study as planned and will receive their transcript and certificate by post. This news will be disappointing for many, and it was a difficult decision to make, but the safety of our community of students, staff and visitors must come first. These events are incredibly important in the life of the university and in celebrating the spectacular achievements of our students.

“However, please be assured that this is a delay rather than a cancellation, and we are exploring all options to hold graduation celebrations at a future date for graduates, their families and supporters.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Over 150,000 sign petition demanding this year’s tuition fees are reimbursed

Students living in King’s Residences will not be charged for term 3 if they move out due to COVID-19

King’s fresher with coronavirus warns other students to stay indoors