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 Extenuating 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 extenuating circumstances requests where it has not been possible to provide independent supporting evidence – please see below for detail of the enhanced Extenuating Circumstances process.
- Introduce a new post-results Extenuating Circumstances process for the summer.
Extenuating Circumstances process
Our existing Extenuating 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 Extenuating 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 ILSI 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 Extenuating 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 Extenuating 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 Extenuating 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 Extenuating Circumstances requests
In a change from our usual policy, we are developing a new post-results Extenuating Circumstances process for the summer. We are finalising these plans and will send further information by email during the week commencing 22 February (Week 7).
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.
Take-home online exams are open-book exams and allow flexibility to accommodate the different circumstances and needs of all our students. Exams will be available for 23 hours in most cases, which means you can access and complete your paper at any time during this period, whenever suits you best – depending on your current time zone or around family life or any caring commitments, for example. Students who would usually have additional time for in-person exams can take the extra time they need during the 23-hour window.
It is certainly not expected that you spend the whole 23 hours completing an exam, and a ‘guide time’ for how long to spend on each paper will be provided by your Module Convenor. We will make every effort to timetable exams so that you will not have more than one take-home online exam in a day.
For some specific exams there may be a time restriction in place, which means once you have started your paper online (within the 23-hour window), it must be submitted within a specified time. Again, your Module Convenor will let you know if this applies for any of your exams.
We will publish further guidance about preparing for and undertaking take-home online exams soon.
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.