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Teaching and learning

While the Government has announced that students will be able to return to campus should they choose to do so from May 17, all online support and activities will continue for those who cannot attend campus.

It is important to note that there will be no change in assessments during the current assessment period – all previous arrangements with regard to assessments will remain the same.

International students do not need to return to campus at this time, as some travel restrictions are still in place. It is advisable to check for updates on the Government’s website and also speak with programme leaders.

For those who do decide to return to campus, some schools will be running on-campus activities during the remaining term time. These may include things like programme forums, one-on-one sessions with personal academic tutors and support for students who are sitting assessments in the supplementary period. There will also be some transition support for Level 4 and Level 5 students, in preparation for the new academic year.

Programme teams will contact students with information about activities on campus that are relevant to them.

Looking Ahead

The University will continue to follow the Government roadmap that is leading the nation out of lockdown but meanwhile we are actively planning for our 2021/22 academic year and what that will look and feel like for our new and returning students. Our planning has been influenced by a number of factors including:

  • A tangible and overwhelming desire from our students for the return of an on-campus experience:
  • The need to recognise that the undergraduate students who join us in September 2021 will have experienced two years of disrupted schooling / education, and we need to be prepared to support them to succeed;
  • The ongoing need to support the wellbeing of our students, following the social constraints they have experienced during the pandemic;
  • Our Learning, Teaching Student Experience Strategy, which sets out an ambitious vision for an inclusive learning culture and transformative university experience that empowers our students to realise their ambitions and make a positive difference to the world;

We are committed to providing an environment where meaningful and safe on-campus interactions can take place between students and staff - we want students and staff to make use of University facilities as part of a holistic approach to the delivery of teaching and creation of a vibrant and rich learning environment.

We will continue to embrace the wider use of technology to deliver teaching while making sure that we facilitate meaningful on-campus interactions.

In line with the national roadmap, we are planning with confidence for a year in which the physical and social restrictions we have experienced through the pandemic are removed. However, we will plan to enable us to flex our approach with agility if circumstances change.

We will provide high quality pastoral support to all students, through Personal Academic Tutors, mentors, student services and peer support schemes, ensuring students are able to choose how they engage with the support available to them.

We will promote co- and extra-curricular activities and events, including vocational learning activities, through the provision of a vibrant programme of events and activities, working in partnership with our Students’ Union and University services.

This is an exciting opportunity for the University as we begin to implement our new strategies, and to evolve and embrace new ways of delivering a distinctive and compelling offer. We are designing and planning an innovative and exciting new student offer, which is campus-based, yet builds on the best of what we have learnt over the last year, incorporating technology to promote a high-quality teaching, learning and assessment experience.

Assessments

Fair and reliable assessment/no detriment policy

Following the announcement at the beginning of 2021 of the third national lockdown due to the pandemic, the University’s ‘no detriment policy’ was reviewed and revised, along with related changes to our Academic Regulations, to allow us to operate it in practice across a wide variety of our degree programmes.

As with the previous iteration of the ‘no detriment policy’, our overriding aim is to ensure the value and integrity of your degree, and, as part of this, to support you to undertake assessments fairly and reliably in a way that best allows you to continue with or complete your studies with confidence. This is why we prefer the term ‘Fair and Reliable Assessment Policy’ to ‘No Detriment’; it amounts to the same thing, but we believe it describes more clearly the practical measures we are putting in place.

The revised ‘Fair and Reliable Assessment Policy’ was approved by the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee and Senate in February and below is an outline of its key features.

What has already been done?

In response to the wider pandemic, and considering government guidance and rules about social distancing, the University reviewed every programme to re-design learning, teaching and assessments ready for beginning of the 2020/21 academic year.

This resulted in a significant move to online learning, supported by new technology and platforms. We introduced new methods of assessment, wherever possible, that could be undertaken and submitted remotely and we put in place support services, both online and face-to-face, to help students continue their academic study with confidence, including investing in a laptop scheme to provide equipment to students where needed.

When the most recent lockdown was announced, we decided to suspend all face-to-face on campus learning, teaching, and assessment activities until 26 March (the end of the Spring term) except for certain programmes prioritised by the Department of Education. Learning, teaching and assessment schedules for the remainder of academic year were further reviewed and, where necessary, modifications were made to ensure students were able to be fairly and reliably assessed.

What other measures are being put in place to support students?

To reduce the impact of the lockdown on you performing to the best of your abilities, the University has put in place temporary measures to help support you to continue or complete your studies. They are intended to reduce pressure on you, reassure you that your assessments and resulting grades are fair, enable you to progress in or complete your studies, and protect the academic standards of the University’s qualifications.

These temporary measures include:

Extensions

For the period 4 January 2021 to 21 May 2021, you will automatically be given a two-week extension to any deadlines for coursework submitted through Canvas. There are many benefits to submitting your work to the original deadline and, wherever possible, we would encourage you to do so, but if you need more time, the additional two weeks is there. Where you have a learning support plan which provides for flexibility on deadlines, your module leaders will have discretion to extend deadlines further – however, depending on the date of submission it may not be possible to mark, process and moderate work in time for Boards if further extensions are given, and therefore there may be a delay to your progression or award.

Extenuating Circumstances

During the period 4 January 2021 to 21 May 2021, if you do not submit an assessment, or submit an assessment which you fail, you will automatically be given a further attempt at the same attempt number. You will not need to submit a claim for extenuating circumstances, and you will not need any evidence.  Your next attempt will normally be at the next available assessment opportunity.

If you do submit an assessment during this period and pass, but feel that you could have done better, then you can submit a claim for extenuating circumstances, to enable you to have another attempt at your assessment (with the same attempt number). In this scenario, you will also not need any evidence and your next attempt will normally be at the next available assessment opportunity.

Reassessment Arrangements

Under normal circumstances, students who do not achieve a pass in at least 60 credits are not allowed to undertake supplementary assessment without attendance.

This has now been changed so that if you fail any module at the first or second attempt, you will have an opportunity to make good the failure through reassessment. There is no limit to the number of modules eligible for supplementary assessment and attendance is not required.

Referral

Under normal circumstances, students who have not met the requirements to progress to the next stage of their programme, but who have achieved a pass in at least 100 credits, can have up to 20 credits carried over into the subsequent stage of the programme and study these 20 credits alongside higher-level modules.

The new policy changes this so that, if required, you will be able to progress to the next stage of your programme and carry over up to 40 module credits to attempt the module/s again without attendance (so long as you have not previously been permitted to carry over the module/s).

Restudy

In the standard regulations, students who do not meet the requirements to progress or achieve their target award must undertake a third attempt of the failed modules if they have passed at least 80 credits.

The revised policy relaxes the rules limiting restudy and provides additional opportunities for students to succeed and complete their studies as follows:

  • Failure in over 40 credit, up to a maximum of 70 credits, = you will be required to repeat modules with attendance.
  • Failure in 80 credits or more = you will be required to repeat the stage in its entirety with attendance.

Suspension of Studies and maximum period of registration

To acknowledge the differing impact of the pandemic on the individual circumstances of students, where the standard regulations and procedures relating to the suspension of studies and maximum periods of registration would unduly disadvantage a student or cohort of students, these periods may be extended by the Board of Examiners.

Compensation of modules

The standard regulations concerning progression and compensation allow students to progress to the next stage of their programme if they achieve at least 40% in individual stage modules, amounting to 100 credits, and at least 35% in individual stage modules, amounting to the other 20 credits.  The revised policy changes this so that the credit tariff remains the same, but the threshold mark is reduced to 30%.

Together, these measures are designed to enable you to undertake your assessments with confidence. They will help to focus you on engaging with your studies, enable you to consolidate your learning, demonstrate your achievement, and prepare you for your next steps knowing that the value of your degree is protected.

Note on Professionally Accredited Programmes

We are doing everything we can to make the case to professional bodies to be as accommodating as possible under these circumstances. However, in some circumstances we may not be permitted to apply some or all of the features of the Fair and Reliable Assessment Policy to programmes subject to professional, statutory, or regulatory requirements. We are currently working with our accrediting bodies to confirm which measure we are able to apply and will confirm to you the outcomes of this process as soon as we have completed it. In the meantime, if you are unsure if your programme is accredited by a professional, statutory, or regulatory body you can check by looking up the specification for your programme.

Placements, study abroad and work-based learning

We know that the experiences you gain from placements, work-based learning, and studying abroad are important and highly valued by you. Indeed, they are a fundamental component of many of our professionally accredited courses.

Given this, we are working with partner organisations and institutions to make sure placements in industry and opportunities to study abroad as part of your course go ahead as planned wherever possible. If this is not possible, we will contact you directly and discuss alternative or equivalent options.

More information

For specific details about your course, please speak to your programme leader or personal academic tutor.