BREAKING: University Implements ‘No Detriment’ Policy for Assessments

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The University of Southampton have announced today that they will be following in the footsteps of other institutions like Exeter by offering a ‘no detriment’ policy to the majority of the student body, excluding PGR students, PGCE students and students in the Schools of Heath Sciences and Medicine.

Vice President (Education) Alex Neill defines the policy as the following:

[S]o long as you submit work for all required assessments this semester (see below), we guarantee that your academic year average will be no lower than the average that you had achieved by 22 March 2020. For Masters students, this applies to the taught element of your degree programme.  If you do well in assessments submitted after 22 March, of course, your academic year average could go up. (If you can’t submit work for all required assessments for good reason, our Special Considerations process will apply.)

To be absolutely clear:  completing the remainder of your assessment tasks can only have a positive impact on your year average mark.

He goes on to say that ‘[t]he only possible exception to this is that we may not be able to apply this policy straightforwardly for a very small number of programmes that are accredited or regulated by external professional bodies.’

However, he reassures students that ‘[w]e have been working with other Russell Group universities to make the case to professional bodies that we all need to be as flexible as possible in these circumstances.’

If you’re a student of an externally accredited/regulated programme, you can expect further correspondence about how the ‘no detriment’ policy is set to apply in your case.

He also set out specific information as to how this policy applies to those in different stages of their study, which is reproduced below:

Foundation Year or First year Undergraduate students:  we won’t be asking you to take module-level end of semester exams.  Instead, we will ask you to complete one assessment (or two smaller ones for Combined Honours students) that will be designed to allow you to reflect on and consolidate your learning across the semester (and in some cases across the year).  This will be a compulsory formative assessment task, and will be made available to you online, with online submission of your work.  (Again, if you aren’t able to take it, our Special Considerations process will apply.)

Second year Undergraduate students, or third year students in a four year programme:  Where possible, we will not ask you to take module-level exams.  Instead, we will ask you to complete one assessment (or two smaller ones for Combined Honours students) that will be designed to allow you to reflect on and consolidate your learning across the semester (and in some cases across the year).  This will be a compulsory formative assessment task, and will be made available to you online, with online submission of your work.  (Again, if you aren’t able to take it, our Special Considerations process will apply.)

In a few cases, in programmes that are accredited or regulated by external professional bodies, we may have to set additional assessment tasks to ensure that you graduate with an accredited/professionally recognised degree.  But we will do this only where absolutely necessary, and will let you know about this in as timely a way as possible.

Undergraduate final year students:  we ask you to complete your dissertation/project.  (We understand that some of these – for example, group projects – will need to be amended in light of the current situation, and your Department or School will be in contact with you about that.  If you are not able to complete your dissertation/project, our Special Considerations process will apply.)

We will aim to calculate your final average on the basis of your mark for this work and the marks you have achieved earlier this year and in your second year (and third year for those on four year programmes.  Remember that we will be applying the ‘no detriment’ policy – if your dissertation/project is submitted after 22 March its mark can only improve your overall average; it will not bring it down.

In a few cases, relating to programmes that are accredited or regulated by external professional bodies, we may have to set additional assessment tasks to ensure that you graduate with an accredited/professionally recognised degree.  There may also be a few cases in which further assessment is necessary in order for you to be able to demonstrate that you have met all the learning outcomes of your degree programme, so that the value of your award is fully recognised.  We will add further assessment only where absolutely necessary, and will let you know about this in as timely a way as possible.

Masters students:  Where possible, we will not ask you to take module-level exams. Instead, we will ask you to complete one assessment (or two smaller ones for Combined Honours students) that will be designed to allow you to reflect on and consolidate your learning across the semester (and in some cases across the year).  This will be a compulsory formative assessment task, and will be made available to you online, with online submission of your work.  (Again, if you aren’t able to take it, our Special Considerations process will apply.)

In a few cases, in programmes that are accredited or regulated by external professional bodies, we may have to set additional assessment tasks to ensure that you graduate with an accredited/professionally recognised degree.  But we will do this only where absolutely necessary, and will let you know about this in as timely a way as possible.

Neill encourages anyone with further doubts to contact their Department or School, and adds that ‘if you are not convinced, we will offer you the opportunity to sit your Semester 2 exams in a traditional format when this next becomes possible.’

He ends the email on a note that will no doubt reassure finalists in the wake of Grad Ball and graduation ceremonies both being cancelled, as he says that:

We will be working in the coming months to find ways through which we can – in better times ahead – enable you to achieve some of the goals and have some of the experiences that are not tied to assessments, which you will have missed. It is clear that you will be a very special generation of students in ways that we could not possibly have anticipated, and our promise to you is that we will do all in our power to recognise that.

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Wessex Scene Editor // meme queen // fan of chocolate digestives // @colombochar on Twitter.

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