Student long-term success is our priority. To ensure that our students are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged as a result of the current unprecedented circumstances, I wanted to update you on actions to date and on the powers that Boards of Examiners will have.
Our overall approach has been and continues to be underpinned by seven guiding principles that have the welfare of all of B&FC’s students and staff at their heart:
- Minimises additional anxiety for students in these challenging times
- Recognises that there may be challenging personal circumstances during this period
- Recognises that a significant proportion of students may have periods of illness
- Provides a robust assessment approach that will satisfy regulators and that secures the value of students’ qualifications
- Seeks to graduate and progress students within roughly normal time scale
- Provides similar grade distributions to previous years
- Delivers a recognisably equitable solution for all
Our approach includes the following elements:
- Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMCs). Any student can apply for PMCs in the usual way. However, in these unprecedented circumstances requirements for supporting evidence were relaxed in respect of Covid-19 related claims or for any other illness. This applied from Monday 23 March 2020, when lockdown began. However, from Monday 8 June 2020 all subsequent/new PMC applications will require independent evidence. Further detail required to support Covid-19 related applications is provided below.
- Formal exams converted to time based assessments. The adjustments that we put in place to formal examinations included changes to the format and a 15 hour window.
- Amendment to a limited number of assessments. Following review of all modules to ensure that students were still provided with the opportunity to achieve all module learning outcomes, a limited number of specific assessment amendments were made.
- Scaling: Module grades for a cohort will be reviewed and adjusted if necessary, through this process Scaling is the systematic adjustment of marks at a module level across students on a programme in order to ensure they appropriately reflect the achievements of the students. Boards of Examiners will consider scaling for assessments for cohorts of students using a revised formula to ensure there has been no disadvantage or advantage due to Covid-19. Where possible, previous years’ data will be reviewed to provide reassurance that students are not being disadvantaged nor given unfair advantage over previous cohorts
- Condonation: where the Board of Examiners can decide to award credit, in accordance with regulations, where a student has marginally failed a module Condonation will normally only be considered where a student has exhausted all reassessment opportunities. However, for this academic year, condonation will, normally, immediately be applied without the need for reassessment, at all levels. Where a student wishes to undertake reassessment in one or more failed modules, they may do so provided they apply within five working days of results being made available
- PMCs: Exceptional Arrangements: For students who have been severely impacted for a prolonged period of time as a result of Covid-19 Students who have been severely impacted for a prolonged period of time as a result of Covid-19, have an opportunity to apply for PMCs: Exceptional Arrangements, if all the previous Covid-19 assessment adjustments (1 -5) have been exhausted and that appropriate independent evidence is available. If approved, the Reassessment Board of Examiners may exclude the assessment(s) in question (without penalty) from the calculation of the overall module score(s) in accordance with the guidance detailed below and outlined in relevant temporary adjustments to academic regulations.
PMCs – Exceptional Arrangements
These are unusual and challenging times and we understand that very many students have been affected by the current situation. For a period of 11 weeks from 23 March 2020, applications for Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMCs) have had relaxed requirements for supporting evidence. However, from 8 June 2020, all subsequent or new applications for PMCs will normally require independent documentary evidence that demonstrates good cause as to why a student’s performance and achievements have been adversely affected by means which have not been fully addressed through extension and other available assessment procedures.
‘Good cause’ will mean illness or other relevant prolonged and severe adverse personal circumstances affecting a student and resulting in either the student’s failure to undertake or submit an assessment at or by the due time, or otherwise satisfy the requirements of the scheme of assessment for their programme. For general guidance concerned with PMC applications please refer to the HE Taught Award Regulations: Part B Section: 1: Personal Mitigating Circumstances and Interruption of Study Procedure.
Type of Evidence specific to the COVID-19 pandemic
We will give reasonable consideration to the form of documentary evidence that can be provided in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and understand that some usual sources of independent evidence in the UK may still not be available, e.g. a letter from a General Practitioner (GP). Medical records should however be available from hospitals and General Practitioners on request. Third party evidence from someone in a professional capacity, who can verify the circumstances and who is in a position to provide objective and impartial evidence will also be considered. Electronic evidence will be accepted from verifiable addresses. All evidence must be provided in English.
The following list details examples of the types of evidence that would normally be accepted to support an application for PMCs specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. This list should not be considered definitive, and we will always give reasonable consideration to other forms of documentary evidence provided. We may also request additional evidence to help to clarify a set of circumstances. This is in line with Lancaster University regulations.
Examples of Evidence specific to COVID-19
In all instances the student will be required to explain how individual circumstances have affected their ability to complete/submit specific assessments or, how the student’s performance in these specific assessments was manifestly prejudiced or significantly impacted.
Illness of student
Where students have contracted coronavirus and have been admitted to hospital for treatment, evidence can include medical notes which demonstrate that hospital medical treatment was received including length of time spent in hospital.
Illness of ‘someone close’, usually a close family, who has contracted coronavirus
Medical evidence relating to the illness (clearly indicating dates of illness) plus evidence of the students connection to the person who is ill, or has been ill AND corroborating evidence to demonstrate the impact on the student (e.g. a member of College staff/other relevant third party, which can include family members). “Someone close” can mean parents or guardians, children, siblings, a spouse or partner.
Bereavement of ‘someone close’
“Someone close” can mean parents or guardians, children, siblings, a spouse or partner. Evidence of bereavement can take several forms, for example:
- A letter from funeral director or minister conducting the service.
- An Order of Service showing date, or other relevant documentation.
- A statement from a doctor or other qualified professional, or member of College staff (e.g. personal tutor) confirming you had disclosed a bereavement.
- A corroborating statement from a family member. A death certificate is also an acceptable form of evidence but is not a requirement.
- Other acute/severe circumstances (including prolonged financial or accommodation difficulties associated with Covid-19)
Statement must provide clear details, including dates which link to the assessment(s) affected. Students must provide evidence of how they were affected and why this prevented them from completing/submitting specific assessment(s) within the agreed timescales or, how their performance in these specific assessments was manifestly prejudiced.
This should include supporting Independent evidence from a relevant professional person, i.e. landlord/agent or associated agency.
PMCs – Exceptional Arrangements: Reassessment Boards of Examiners considerations
Where PMCS – Exceptional Arrangements are approved, the Reassessment Boards of Examiners will:
- Consider the extent to which the student’s total assessment, at that level, has been completed as a percentage, taking into account the relative weights attributed to those assessments as published in the relevant approved assessment scheme.
- Make an overall judgement of the student’s work submitted for assessment, using as far as possible the standards and criteria applied in respect of the work of other students.
- At module level where the student has:
- completed 33% or more of the total summative assessment required, the Boards of Examiners can recommend an overall module result on the basis of work completed so long as that work is deemed to demonstrate attainment against substantial elements of the module’s learning outcomes;
- completed less than 33% of the work required for assessment, the student will be regarded as not having completed sufficient assessment to be awarded a grade in the module. In such cases students should be given an opportunity to complete the missing work as a first attempt.
- At programme level where the student has:
- completed 75% or more of the total work required for programme assessment, the Boards of Examiners will recommend an award or other outcome, including progression on the basis of the work completed;
- If a student has completed less than 75% of programme assessment, within a programme of study or completed less than 30% of programme assessment for an honours degree, the student will be regarded as not having completed sufficient assessment to progress or be awarded a degree.
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact your progress tutor or programme leader to discuss further.
I hope you are staying safe and well and that these arrangements offer you reassurance with regards to your learning experience with B&FC. As always thank you for being part of our community.
Vice Principal Higher Education and Student Enhancement