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Education Updates

Hello all,

These really are unprecedented times. We hope you’re all keeping safe and well, prioritising your health and doing your best to keep well. We know that for many, this is a difficult situation in which to study – whether you are adjusting to new ways of living, managing childcare responsibilities, or have other challenging circumstances.

At the SU we’re working hard to make sure that all students’ needs are considered while the University makes huge changes to exams and assessments to allow students to complete their academic year where possible, and to their mitigation and safety net policies to provide support.

Chloe and Alice – your Education and Postgraduate Officers

Education Officer, Chloe BattenPostgraduate Officer, Alice Churm  

Listening to you

Thanks to everyone who has gotten in touch to express their concerns and suggestions around the changes to assessments and academic support offered to students during this time! We’ve been recording them as they come through and bringing those to the University’s Education Executive and other decision-makers on a rolling basis.

Through your petitions, letters and responses to our survey, we’ve raised key issues around University communication, the need for a no-detriment policy, details of the safety-net, better support for PGT and PGRs, and dissertation support while there is a lack of library access. While we’ve gained answers to many (see below), there’s still much to push for.

The University is currently working very intensely to create complex models to support you academically during this time, in a short period of time. We want the Uni to think these through thoroughly to make sure no-one is left behind, and in some ways to get it right this takes time. However, we’re pushing student’s views/voices to be prioritized and for the Uni to as a minimum let students know what they’re working on and to what time scales.

In the meantime:

  • Continue raising concerns in our survey
  • You can also email us at either education@warwicksu.com or postgrads@warwicksu.com – while we cannot guarantee a quick personalised response, we are logging these and following them up to make sure details are fed into the Student Newsletters
  • If you feel your department is not providing you with appropriate support please do not hesitate to contact us about this
  • Contact your Course Reps. Student-Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs) are still happening in Term 3 so any Departmental issues can still be dealt with in the usual way. You can find who your Course Rep is on the SU website.
  • Use the Library’s More E-books Campaign – it'll be running from 30th March and throughout Term 3 - request e-books that will support their studies and the Library will do their best to get them
  • For any advice on your specific academic concerns you can contact the Warwick SU advice centre. They can assist with applying to mitigating circumstances, appeals and much more.
  • If you have any concerns around anything outside of your academic issues, then note other sabbatical offers are working on a range of different things and are still contactable as well

In the below information about University provisions and policy you will find:

  1. What we're pushing for
  2. Recent wins for students
  3. What we know

1. What We’re Pushing For

  • Better, clearer support for students on professionally accredited courses where aspects of the Safety Net do not yet apply and regular updates for these students updating on the position of the Accrediting Body
  • Ensuring that current support for students with disabilities that was agreed before the lockdown is upheld and adjusted accordingly for the changes in assessment as well as support plans for students with disabilities who haven’t yet been able to arrange this.
  • Better support and financial security for PGR students who have lost teaching work due to COVID-19
  • Following the announcement of funded extensions for PhD students from UKRI, we are pushing the University to offer the same to their University funded PhD students
  • Better transparency from the University to students about their decision-making processes [AS1]

2. Recent Wins For Students

  • Blanket extensions for all coursework deadlines
  • Dissertation cover letters to mitigate where research materials are unavailable
  • A safety-net policy for undergraduate students on non-accredited courses to ensure changes in assessments and study do not cause a detriment to final year grades
  • University commitment to support those unable to take assessments at all, for reasons including but not limited to childcare commitments, little or no access to technology or illness, with the opportunity to re-sit assessments or defer where extremely necessary.
  • PGT impact mitigation policy that offers allows consideration of lower marks when it comes to grading for PGT courses
  • Better transparency to students about the University’s timeline for releasing information about new assessments and policies
  • Assessment styles to be given to students ahead of their exam timetables being published to allow more time for preparation.
  • The ability for students to test drive the Alternative Assessments Portal before assessments begin
  • Much more regular attendance for SU Officers at meetings of the Education Executive and its subgroups

3. What We Know

Current University Policy and Guidance Summarised This section below collates the information to date provided to students and the SU. Unfortunately, some new information that we’re discussing with the University can’t be shared here before it is officially announced in the Student Newsletters, however this page will be updated frequently.

(page last updated 13/05/2020)

Click here for the University’s new central page for all information about teaching, learning and assessments during Term 3 2020

Exam Season and New Online Assessments
  • • All exams and assessments have now been moved online. The April/May Alternative Assessment Timetable and Summer Alternative Assessment Timetable were released in April and both can be found on the Exams Website.
  • • You can find your personalised timetable of all assessments replacing your exams when you log into the Alternative Exams Portal (AEP)
  • • See general guidance on the new online assessments here and here that will help you to prepare with info on how to use the AEP, academic integrity and plagiarism, reasonable adjustments, and more.
Teaching and Resources in Term 3
  • All scheduled teaching for Term 3 has been cancelled for all students “unless it is essential for the learning outcomes of your degree”, except for a few degree apprenticeships, PGT teaching and some accredited courses.
  • • This means revision sessions, dissertation supervision, academic support and personal tutoring will all go ahead but there will be no new delivery of content.
  • • If you are not studying a degree apprenticeship or on a PGT or accredited course and you think that your department is continuing to deliver teaching sessions or assigning coursework where it shouldn’t be, please get in touch with us to raise this issue (education@warwicksu.com and postgrad@warwicksu.com)
The Library
  • • The Library will continue to deliver their services online as much as they possibly can.
  • • You are encouraged to contact your departments academic support librarian who is best placed to assist you in locating relevant resources
  • • The More Books Campaign is focusing on e-books, so you can request any e-resources that you currently do not have access to
  • • If you currently have books out from the library, you will not be charged fines on these books during this period
  • • If you have any library books checked out, you are encouraged to keep them safe, and a plan for returning them will be made once we have a clearer idea of when the library will open again
  • • The Library and the PG Hub are still hosting Study Happy events, and PG Community events online!
First Years
  • No exams (including lab work) for Year 1 and 2+2 students (except for some accredited courses where some exams are still required)
  • Current and planned coursework assessments for Term 3 will go ahead - you’re still expected submit those. If you encounter any troubles completing your coursework, the expanded Mitigating Circumstances policy is in place until the end of term. See the section on Mitigating Circumstances below for more info.
  • Academic support will continue to be available from departments, personal tutors, and academic support librarians at The Library.
  • • First years are encouraged to take part in the newly developed Warwick Online Learning Certificate in Term 3.

Progression to Year 2

  • • All First-Year students who meet the learning outcomes for their course will proceed automatically. Departments will review your marks this academic year and inform you that you proceed automatically.
  • • If your department has serious concerns about your performance, they will contact you to discuss your situation. This decision won’t be affected by any marks missing for modules or assessments due to Industrial Action or the current Covid-19 situation unless a student has not taken enough credits to progress. If this is the case your department will have contacted you about taking resits.
  • • Although most students are thought to be eligible to progress into Year 2, there will not be an official confirmation of this until following Exam Boards in July and August 2020. However, unless you have failed assessment, or your department has expressed a concern with your attendance or performance, you will fall into the category of students that are to progress into Year 2
  • • On courses where marks from the first year do count towards your final degree classification, the University will typically change this for your year group so that it no longer contributes, or where that is not possible, will ensure that the cancelled exams do not negatively impact on your classification. If in doubt about the current weighting of each year in your degree, you can check your course handbook.
  • • See all information about first year progression here.
Intermediate and Final Years: The Safety Net Package of Support

The Safet-Net is the University’s no-detriment policy for Intermediate and Final Years to ensure that “end of year average marks in 2019/20 for undergraduate students in their intermediate and final year would not be detrimentally affected by the changes we are making to teaching, learning and assessment as a consequence of Covid-19".

The Safety-Net is a bundle of mitigation support that currently includes:

  • • A guarantee that a student’s graduating degree outcome in the future will not be lowered by assessments taken after 13/3/20 in the 19/20 academic year as long as all assessments are still taken in Term 3.
  • • Automatic 2-week extensions on work currently in progress.
  • • The ability to self-certify for an additional 5 working days extension on assessed work (on top of the 2-week extended deadline if necessary). This can be applied for 5 working days before your assessment deadline.
  • • The application of robust mitigation procedures but with relaxed requirements around the required evidence. This removes the difficulty and stress for students of obtaining evidence and the burden on the NHS or other health and wellbeing systems for providing it.
  • • If you are struggling to get the right resources to complete your dissertation or research project, you should contact your supervisor to discuss this as soon as possible. Your department has been advised to provide you with a cover letter for you to be able to explain why your dissertation was impacted. This cover letter will be taken into consideration when dissertations are marked. Some departments may adjust their dissertation expectations or address the issue in another way. Get in touch with us if you feel your department hasn’t offered any support to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your dissertation or final year project.
Intermediate Years: The Graduation Benchmark
  • • The Graduation Benchmark is an assurance that your grade will not be negatively affected due to the changes to assessment for Term 3 19/20
  • • At the end of your final year, there will be a calculation of all your marks, including the assessment that you have taken during Term 3 of year 19/20. This calculation may include first-year marks where they contribute to your final degree classification, for example on some accredited courses and science courses. There will also be a calculation of your marks except for the assessment during Term 3 of year 19/20. Your final grade will be which of these two calculations is higher. The University has released information on how these grades will be calculated
  • • All these calculations will be done during Exam Boards in your final year so you will not know your Graduation Benchmark grade until then
  • • You still need to have passed enough modules to achieve the required amount of credits for your degree, which is detailed here
  • • If you are found guilty of cheating or plagiarism in your Term 3 assessments, you will not be eligible for the Graduation Benchmark
Final Years: The Graduation Benchmark
  • • The Graduation Benchmark is an assurance that your grade will not be negatively affected due to the changes to assessment for Term 3 19/20
  • • Your average degree outcome up until the end of Term 2 will be calculated, as well as your overall degree outcome for all assessments, including the Term 3 assessments that will replace your exams. Your final grade will be which of these two calculations is higher. Put simply this means that your grade now will not go lower than your average up until 13th March 2020
  • • The University has released information on how these grades will be calculated
  • • All these calculations will be done during Exam Boards in July 2020 so you will not know your Graduation Benchmark grade until then
  • • You still need to have passed enough modules to achieve the required amount of credits for your degree, which is detailed here
  • • If you are found guilty of cheating or plagiarism in your Term 3 assessments, you will not be eligible for the Graduation Benchmark
PGT COVID-19 Impact Mitigation Policy

The University have introduced a series of measures that offer PGT students reassurance for their assessments and grades for Term 3 of 19/20 whilst also acknowledging PGTs inherent difference in their modes of study. If you are studying an integrated Master’s course you will be covered by the undergraduate safety net package of support.

The PGT COVID-19 Impact Mitigation Policy consists of:

  • • The final classification for Masters Degree’s will be calculated off the best 120 credits achieved this year, rather than the weighted average of all 180 credits. The final classification for Postgraduate Diplomas will be calculated off the best 90 credits achieved this year, rather than the weighted average of all 120 credits. You will only be eligible for this if you pass all your modules, including core modules
  • • If you are a part time student, therefore not due to graduate for the next year or two, your final classification will still be calculated as above
  • • If you do fail any modules, you will now be eligible for one opportunity to re-sit assessment for all failed module. There will also now be no minimum mark you need to reach on failed modules
  • • If you are struggling to get the right resources to complete your dissertation or research project, you should contact your supervisor to discuss this as soon as possible. Your department should provide you with a cover letter for you to be able to explain why your dissertation was impacted. This cover letter will be taken into consideration when dissertations are marked.
  • • An automatic two-week extension for any assignments that were started as of late March, and due to be submitted before the end of July
  • • There is also more support offered through the updated mitigating circumstances policy, which you can read about below
Postgraduate Research Students

We understand that for PGR students there are different concerns around COVID-19 that differ from those of Undergraduate and Master’s students.

  • UKRI has announced that they will be offering six month funded extensions to PhD students whose work has been impacted by COVID-19. This will be available for any student who is due to complete their course before 31st March 2021. We will be continuing our work lobbying the University to offer similar extensions to the University of Warwick funded PhD students.
  • • The Doctoral College has a PGR hardship fund that PGR students are eligible to apply for because of exceptional circumstances arising from the coronavirus. You can apply through the Doctoral College website.
Mitigating Circumstances
To provide better support for students experiencing difficulties completing assessed work during this time, the University have brought forward the implementation of a new self-certification policy that was approved by Senate last academic year. Additionally, the automatic extension period has been extended to 5 working-days and the need for medical evidence has been relaxed.

 

  • • The new self-certification policy allows students a 5 working day extension without the need for evidence. Students are eligible to use the self-certification policy twice before the end of the academic year. The request must be put in before the submission deadline, but no earlier than 5 days before the submission deadline.
  • • Understandably at this time it is not easy for students to be able to get evidence to back up the many reasons why they may need to apply for mitigating circumstances. Due to this the university has relaxed the evidence requirements for both coronavirus and non-coronavirus related mitigations. You will need to provide an explanation of why you are not able to provide evidence for this. There is more guidance on this here.
  • • If you are unable to complete your assessment this year due to significant difficulties, you may be eligible to defer your assessments to September 2020. This can include things such as limited access to technology, or having caring responsibilities.
  • • See more info in the Student FAQs about Mitigating Circumstances here.
Reasonable adjustments
  • • If you are granted extensions as Reasonable Adjustments, these extensions are in addition to the 2-week extension that’s been granted to all students in recognition of the disruption experienced due to Covid-19.
  • • When starting your assessment through the new Alternative Exams Portal (AEP), you’ll automatically be asked to tick a box to declare whether you have an agreed entitlement to reasonable adjustments. Your department will take this into account when your work is marked.
  • You’ll take your additional time and breaks in the AEP and within the 2-hour additional time period already provided for late submissions.
  • You’re only entitled to take your already agreed amount of additional time. Your department will know that you’re entitled to this additional time so they will reconcile this when marking your assessment. Your extra time won’t be considered a late submission.
  • • If your work is submitted outside of the agreed additional time (plus the original assessment length + 45-minute download/upload time), your assessment will be considered a late submission.
  • • If you take a break, do not close (and upload) your assessment to return to it later. Simply save your work on your device and restart it when you’re ready.
  • You must still complete and upload your assessment before the end of the 24-hour window, so be sure to plan carefully. After 24 hours the assessment portal will close. If you’re unsure about timings, write a plan and check it with a friend or your Personal Tutor.
  • You can (but do not need to) add a few lines at the start of your assessment setting out what your reasonable adjustment entitlement consists of if you believe this would aid the marker(s).
  • • Find further guidance on reasonable adjustments here and assessment durations here