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Academic Performance Safety Net FAQs

General Principles of the Safety Net

Below you will find FAQs relating to the recently agreed Academic Performance Safety Net.

We have developed the Academic Performance Safety Net to ensure that students are not academically disadvantaged by COVID-19.

We recognise that the period affected by COVID-19 (which we are currently defining as 1 March 2020 – 30 June 2020) has been difficult – many students have been anxious about friends and family, subject to physical restrictions, and some students may have been personally unwell.

We do not want this to impact on the academic performance of our students.  The Safety Net is a way of ensuring that the overall academic outcome for students is not lower than it would have been had COVID-19 not occurred.

At heart, our Academic Performance Safety Net is designed to achieve the same outcome as the ‘No Detriment’ policies you may have heard about in other universities.  It is designed to ensure that you are not academically disadvantaged by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Put simply, it ensures that you will achieve an award that reflects your performance outside of the current crisis period, unless, of course, your performance during the period of COVID-19 improves your overall outcome. 

We have called our policy a ‘Safety Net’ because we believe it is a better term to describe what we have aimed to do, which is: to support students; maintain academic integrity; and maintain the value of your degree.

Some students may not have completed enough assessment in the current academic year prior to the period affected COVID-19 crisis. 

This may be due to extenuating circumstances, they may have failed a module, or their programme structure may mean that some module are studied over a full academic year. 

To ensure that the Safety Net is robust, it must be calculated on the basis of at least 60 credits worth of assessment if you are an undergraduate students or 90 credits if you are a postgraduate student.

In some cases, we can use credit from a previous academic year to make up the required credits, but this is not possible for students who have joined directly into Stage 2 or Stage 3, or for postgraduate students.

Therefore, where a student doesn’t have sufficient marks from the University of Bradford, we will calculate a Provisional Safety Net.  This will become firm once the student has achieved enough credits.

How does the safety net work?

The Academic Performance Safety Net might seem complicated, but for most students it is fairly straightforward. The following examples will hopefully illustrate how it works in practice.

Please note that for a small number of programmes that are subject to external professional regulation or accreditation we may not be permitted to apply the Safety Net. If this is the case, you will be communicated with separately by your Programme Team.

The following 7 examples relate to typical 3-year undergraduate programmes in which the final year (stage 3) has a weighting of 80% and the second year (Stage 2) a weighting of 20% in the degree classification calculation. The final two examples relate to typical postgraduate taught programmes.

Example 1

I am in my final year and I had already completed 60 credits worth of assessment before 1 March. The average of my performance across these modules is 62%

  • Your final year Safety Net Baseline will be set at 62%. This means that as long as you complete and pass your remaining modules, and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall result for the year will be at least a 2:1. It could of course be higher if you do really well in the rest of your assessments. 

Example 2

I am a final year student who averaged 65% in my second year (Stage 2) and all my marks so far this year have been 2:1s. How does the safety net work for me? 

  • As long as you complete and pass your remaining modules, and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall result will be at least a 2:1. It could of course be higher if you do really well in the rest of your assessments. This is because we know that when we calculate your Safety Net Baseline it will be in the 2.1 class, even if we have to use performance in the 2nd year.

Example 3

I am a final year student who averaged 72% in my second year (Stage 2) and all my marks so far this year have also been above 70%. How does the safety net work for me? 

  • As long as you complete and pass your remaining modules, and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall result will be in the 1st class. This is because we know that when we calculate your Safety Net Baseline it will be at least 70% and hence in the 1st class, even if we have to use performance in the 2nd year.

Example 4

I am a final year student who averaged 56% in my second year (Stage 2). I had already completed 40 credits worth of assessment before 1 March with an average across these modules of 68%. How does the safety net work for me?

  • Your final year Safety Net Baseline will be set at 65.6%. The average mark from your Stage 3 credits contributes 80% towards this with the remaining 20% being made up from your Award Average from Stage 2 (the maths is: (68 x 0.8) + (56 x 0.2)). As long as you complete and pass your remaining modules, and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall result will be will be at least a 2:1. This is because we will use our normal algorithm to calculate your overall degree class in which 80% of the overall mark is derived from your Stage 3 average (in this case your Safety Net Baseline), and 20% from your Stage 2 Award Average. It could of course be higher if you do really well in the rest of your assessments. 

Example 5

I am a final year direct entrant student who has completed 40 credits worth of assessment before 1 March. My average mark across these modules is 56%. How does the safety net work for me? 

  • We will set your final year Safety Net Baseline at 56%. However, because you have not completed at least half of the credit for the year (60 or more credits) and you don’t have a previous Stage of study from the University to make up the necessary credits, then your baseline will be provisional until the end of the year. The Board of Examiners will look at your performance in the remaining modules and if it is within 5 percentage points of the Provisional Safety Net Baseline then they will set your overall Stage result at whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the year (Award Average) or your provisional baseline. This is all so long as you complete and pass the remining modules and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties. If your performance in assessments completed after 1 March is significantly lower than the provisional baseline (i.e. more than 5 percentage points), the Board will set your overall Stage result the weighted mean of your Provisional Safety Net Baseline and the weighted mean of modules/assessments completed after 1 March.

  • We will set your Stage 2 Safety Net Baseline at 65%. We can do this because you have completed at least half of the credits for the Stage. If at the end of the year the credited weighed mean of all of your modules is not higher than 65%, then as long as you complete and pass your remaining modules and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties the Board of Examiners will conform your Stage mark as 65%.

Example 6

I am a second year student who had already completed 60 credits worth of assessment before 1 March. The average of my performance across these modules is 65%. However, in my first year I didn’t do as well and finished the year with an average of 48%. How does the safety net work for me? 

Example 7

I am a second year student who had completed 40 credits worth of assessment before 1 March. The average of my performance across these modules is 65%. However, in my first year I didn’t do as well and finished the year with an average of 48%. How does the safety net work for me? 

  • Your Safety Net Baseline for Stage 2 will be set at 61.6%. The average mark from your Stage 2 credits contributes 80% towards this with the remaining 20% being made up from your Award Average from Stage 1 (the maths is: (65 x 0.8) + (48 x 0.2)). As long as you complete and pass your remaining modules, and you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, The Board of Examiners will confirm this as your Stage 2 result. 

Postgraduate taught programmes are slightly more complicated because there is no previous University of Bradford Stage to draw from if insufficient assessments have been completed or credit attained to set a form Safety Net Baseline. Here are 2 examples for a typical 1-year PGT programme.

Example 8

I am a postgraduate student who completed 60 credits worth of assessment before 1 March with a weighted mean of 65%, I will complete another 60 credits by June and submit my dissertation, which is worth the remaining 60 credits, in September. How does the safety net work for me? 

  • You will have a Provisional Safety Net Baseline of 65%. It is provisional because you haven’t completed at least 50% of the credits for the degree (90 credits). In the summer, the Board of Examiners will review your situation and if you have completed enough credits it will confirm your Safety Net Baseline. To do this it will compare the provisional baseline with the recalculated mean of your completed modules. If this is within 5 percentage points of the Provisional Safety Net Baseline then the Board set your firm Safety Net Baseline at whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the programme up to that point or your provisional baseline. This is all so long as you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties. If your overall performance is significantly lower than the provisional baseline (i.e. more than 5 percentage points), the Board will set your Safety Net Baseline as the weighted mean of your Provisional Safety Net Baseline and the weighted mean of modules/assessments completed after 1 March.

  • We will set your Safety Net Baseline at 55%. We can do this because you have completed half of the credits for the degree. In the summer, the Board of Examiners will compare your  baseline with the recalculated credit-weighted mean of all your completed modules. As long as you are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, if your credit-weighted mean is higher than your baseline the Board will increase your baseline to your new, higher credit-weighted mean mark. If the credit-weighted mean is lower than your baseline, then your Baseline will remain unchanged.

When you have finished your dissertation, as long as you have completed and passed the all your modules and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall degree mark will be set to whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the whole programme or your firm Safety Net Baseline. We will then use this figure to calculate which grade you will be awarded.

Example 9

I am a postgraduate student who completed 90 credits worth of assessment before 1 March with a weighted mean of 55%, I will complete another 30 credits by June and submit my dissertation, which is worth the remaining 60 credits, in September. How does the safety net work for me? 

When you have finished your dissertation, as long as you have completed and passed the all your modules and are not subject to academic misconduct penalties, your overall degree mark will be set to whichever is higher, your credit-weighted mean for the whole programme or your Safety Net Baseline. We will then use this figure to calculate which grade you will be awarded.

We will compare the Safety Net to your actual performance and give you the most favourable outcome.

For example, if you studied 60 credits in Semester One, and achieved an average mark of 65%, but your average for the whole year is 55%, then we will confirm 65% as your stage average.

We need to make an individual calculation for every student and implement careful checks to ensure it is accurate. 

This is a complex undertaking and will take time. 

While we are doing this, your tutors will not be able to tell you what your ‘Safety Net’ number is because they will not know. 

Only Safety Nets calculated by the University will be used for the purposes of confirming results and making awards.  If you have already achieved 60 credits worth of marks this year, it is of course possible for you to work out what your average will be.   If you do not have 60 credits worth of marks, your calculation will be more complicated, and we do not recommend that you try to work it out.   We will not be able to check or answer questions about your personal calculations.   

Do remember that you only need the Safety Net if your performance in your current assessments is affected.  You can still improve your overall outcome. Therefore, we encourage you not to rely on any calculation of the Safety Net you might carry out and instead focus on trying to do the very best that you can in your assessments.  You can still make use of our special arrangements for Extenuating Circumstances too.

We aren’t yet able to confirm what your classification will be.  This is because, importantly, the current assessment period is an opportunity for you to improve your overall outcome. We will confirm your classification once our Board of Examiners has considered your profile.

Do remember that you only need the Safety Net if your performance in your current assessments is affected.  You can still improve your overall outcome. The best way to achieve a good outcome is to do your very best in your current assessments.  You can still make use of our special arrangements for Extenuating Circumstances too.

Your Safety Net, and any award we make to you, will be confirmed by a Board of Examiners.  You will be officially notified of your outcome through e:vision after the Board has met.  If you are unhappy with your outcome, including our calculation of the Safety Net, you can submit an academic appeal (link to appeal process).  You will need to explain why you believe your outcome is not correct.   

Do remember that, this year, you can submit a claim for Extenuating Circumstances up to ten working days after you receive notification of your results from the Board of Examiners.  Therefore, if you believe you could have performed better, you can tell us during this ten-day period – you do not need any evidence and your request will automatically be approved.  You do need to tell us that you want this further attempt, using the Extenuating Circumstances form on e:vision.