Supporting you to succeed: Exams and assessments in spring/summer 2021
We have brought together a suite of measures to mitigate the impact of the current circumstances on your academic performance and ensure you can meet your programme learning outcomes. Our assessment support package has been developed to provide flexibility at individual, module, and institutional level while also ensuring that your work is recognised through your academic achievements.
So far this year, we have:
- adapted module content to adjust to blended learning – supporting both students who have been able to attend face-to-face sessions and those who have been studying remotely;
- adjusted in-year assessments to be completed and submitted online in most cases;
- supported Schools to grant approval for deadline extensions or late penalty waivers in response to the changing situation;
- used student feedback to guide our approach, with input and adjustment from RUSU;
- established our Digital Support Fund to help those who do not have access to the technology they need for their studies;
- provided a wide range of tailored new academic and wellbeing support, including new Life Tools sessions and expert advice on studying online effectively from our Study Advice team.
Your assessment support package for spring/summer 2021
Our commitment to you is that we will continue to work to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on your university experience.
We have designed our suite of measures with three goals, to ensure that:
- assessment is fair – by making adjustments to respond to the changing circumstances, the impact on specific groups (such as at module or programme level), and to reflect the content that you have been taught;
- academic attainment is recognised - by providing you with the opportunity to undertake assessments and exams, with appropriate adjustments in place;
- specific impacts experienced by individuals are mitigated – by enhancing our Exceptional Circumstances process to be more flexible with evidence requirements and allow post-results requests.
- Continue with the coursework assessments you have been working towards to provide the best opportunity for you to demonstrate your individual successes in your subject.
- Reschedule assessment deadlines where teaching or related learning opportunities have been delayed to give appropriate time and opportunity to complete them.
- Amend, replace, remove or delay coursework assessments that are no longer possible due to access to facilities or other reasons. Module Convenors will keep all students informed of changes to assessment timing, weighting or content.
- Hold end-of-year exams as take-home online exams as far as possible. We believe that this gives the greatest flexibility to accommodate students’ different needs and reduce the stress of examinations in an already challenging year.
- Permit exceptional circumstancess requests where it has not been possible to provide independent supporting evidence – please see below for detail of the enhanced Exceptional Circumstances process.
- Introduce a new post-results Exceptional Circumstances process for the summer.
Exceptional Circumstances process
Our existing Exceptional Circumstances process includes two important provisions:
- we will extend coursework deadlines if you have experienced unforeseen issues that have prevented you from completing your coursework on time;
- you can delay examinations from April/May to August/September to the next examinations period, if you already know you will not be a position to successfully complete these exams due to circumstances beyond your control. We hope the introduction of post-results Exceptional Circumstances requests (see below) give you the confidence to take your exams as planned, however, if you are considering requesting a delay, you must first seek advice from your School or Support Centre (or Henley Helpdesk or ISLI Admin Office) because it is important that you understand the implications of delaying your exams.
In addition to the above, we have adapted our process in direct response to COVID-19. Our enhanced Exceptional Circumstances process has two core features:
1. Relaxation of evidence requirement for specific scenarios
We recognise that in the current context there are situations where it may be impossible or very difficult to obtain evidence, and we have therefore agreed to waive the requirement for evidence where it cannot be obtained. This is effective from 4 January 2021.
You can apply for Exceptional Circumstances in the usual way using the existing form and should continue to provide evidence where at all possible.
If you are unable to provide evidence on the Exceptional Circumstances form on RISIS you must:
- clearly explain why you are unable to provide evidence;
- provide a description of your circumstances;
- describe the impact that your circumstances are having on your assessments.
This will help your School to understand how you have been affected when assessing your case, and to decide what mitigation is appropriate or if we can provide other support. Please note, if you do not provide enough explanation as outlined above your request may be rejected.
2. Post-results Exceptional Circumstances requests
If after results publication, you believe that your performance in your centrally timetabled examinations has been affected by an exceptional circumstances in the summer term, you will have five working days to use the Post-results Exceptional Circumstances process through RISIS. If you are granted post-results Exceptional Circumstances, you will be allowed to take the exam again.
If you were taking the exam for the first time, when you take the exam again it will be considered a ‘first attempt’ (also known as DNS - ‘Deemed Not to have Sat’) and your original attempt will not be considered. In some cases the mode of assessment may be different. You must seek advice from your School before requesting a ‘Deemed Not to have Sat’, as there are some important implications to consider. The mark for your original attempt will be cancelled, pending the next attempt, which means your overall classification or result for your relevant Part is also cancelled until your new result is published.
Once your results are published on RISIS, you will have five working days to submit a post-results Exceptional Circumstances request for our consideration. Evidence should be submitted at the same time, or within ten working days of the publication of results if this is not possible. Any evidence presented after this date will be considered but may not be processed in time for you to resit exams in the August/September period. If you cannot provide evidence, you will have the opportunity to explain this on the form.
Please do not submit an Exceptional Circumstances form for issues relating to exam performance until you have received your results and read the important advice to consider along with the full policy on our Essentials webpage.
Take-home online exams
Overall, student feedback from RUSU’s survey and through forums such as our Student Staff Partnership Groups has been very positive about last years' experience of take-home online exams, and we are using this feedback to inform our plans this year.
Where you can go for support
Please remember that we are here to support you and if you have any questions or concerns, you can speak to your Module Convenor, Exams Officer, Academic Tutor, Support Centre (or Henley Helpdesk or ISLI Admin Office) or Academic Rep.
Visit our student support webpage for further information on our specialist support teams, including our Student Welfare Team, Counselling & Wellbeing, Disability Advisory Services, International Student Advisory Team, Student Financial Support, and Study Advice.