UEA announces no detriment approach and safety net for students

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor sent an email to all students today


UEA has launched a “No Detriment approach and Safety Net use” for the academic year 2020/2021.

In an email from Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Emma Sutton sent to all students, the university laid out the policy. It includes “reduced assessment burden”, “flexible and accessible use of extenuating circumstances”, “review of assessment tasks and schedules”, the “use of a safety net to support degree classification and performance in this academic year” and “retention of the use of academic discretion by the Boards of Examiners”.

The reduced assessment burden will be course-dependent and may reduce the volume of assessments, or alter the method of assessment.

The email said: “A review of UG and PGT assessment practice was undertaken by module organisers ahead of this academic year to reduce the volume and burden of assessment, to ensure examinations were spread across the year by introducing a January assessment period, and to increase the diversity in the methods used.  We have also retained an open format for examinations unless there is a sound academic or regulatory need not to do so and where timed provision is indicated there is facility in place to support those eligible for adjustments. Please refer to your module outline information and your assessment brief guidance if you are unsure as to whether this applies to your studies.”

The updated extenuating circumstances policy will involve the “waiving of evidence requirements”.

The email said: “Our Extenuating Circumstances policy has been reviewed to permanently retain the flexibility of panel discretion, and as a general principle only to expect independent medical evidence where it is reasonable to do so.  We have made provision for self-testimony, advisers, student services or those close to you to provide an account of support for consideration.  We have also explicitly acknowledged the nature of mental health challenges in the policy and how this may impact on help-seeking behaviour leading to a delay in making us aware of difficulties.”

The review of assessment tasks and submission date arising from delayed access to learning experiences will also depend on the undergraduate or postgraduate student’s course.

The email said: “Where the necessity to move to online provision or disruption due to COVID-19 restrictions means there has been impact on access to, or delay in some aspects of a module’s learning opportunities (for example a delay in lab based experience; restricted use of the media suite; cancellation of a field activity; or restricted access to specific library or learning resources) then module organisers may make adjustments to affected assessment tasks and/or adjust submission deadlines to offset any associated impact where indicated. This may also be indicated in particular modules of study where a cohort is directly impacted by the current COVID-19 circumstances.”

The “safety net to support degree classification and performance in this academic year” will be solely available to undergraduate students and integrated Master’s finalists where 2020/2021 is a “counting year”.

The email said: “Last academic year, we offered the assurance to you, as it was a counting year of study, that we would ‘safety net’ performance in your second year and your classification on graduation. We said that where a student performed to a higher standard in their final year (2020/2021), and achieved a higher average year mark then this would be used in place of the previous year average (2019/2020) in calculating their degree classification.

“In addition to this and in recognition of the ongoing impact COVID-19 may have had on this year’s academic performance we will extend the use of the safety net to cover the year average mark achieved in this final academic year 2020/2021. So long as you would qualify to graduate (have passed all core modules, achieved the necessary credit at the required academic levels and a passing mark for this year) then the higher of the year average achieved in either the second or final year will be used to calculate your degree classification.”

Lastly, the retention of the use of academic discretion by the Boards of Examiners is applicable to all students with examinations.

The email said: “The use of ‘Academic discretion’ has been retained and will be used when considering the profile of performance of PGT and UG finalists this year. Whilst the nature of one-year Masters programmes does not allow for use of the safety net as described above, consideration will be given by the Boards of Examiners to the profile of achievement of ALL students to consider where there may be evidence of detrimental impact.

“It is important therefore that if you believe your performance has been adversely affected by circumstances which are not mitigated for by the measures in place then you should let us know by submitting an Extenuating Circumstances request via eVision. Do please also provide any evidence which is available to support this where it is possible to do so.
 
“This will allow for recognition of particular impact upon an individual in a particular period of study or assessment item.  This means that Boards of Examiners are able to review the individual profile of a student when deciding upon their degree classification and take a holistic view of their performance.  If there is an indication of impact on a given result/ period of results and/or a student has indicated adverse circumstances, then they will be able to take this into account.”