Section F: interpretation and significant disruption
Regulations 69 - 71: Interpretation of regulations, significant disruption concessions, standards and where only partial results are available.
Regulation 69 Interpretation of regulations
The Academic Policy and Regulations Committee has authority to resolve any dispute arising from these regulations. The University Secretary and their nominees have authority to make urgent decisions relating to assessment issues.
Application of the regulation
69.1 Staff who need guidance on the taught assessment regulations, beyond that provided in the regulations and associated guidance, should contact the relevant College Office, Dean and/or the Academic Policy Officer with responsibility for the Academic Policy and Regulations Committee:
Regulation 70 Significant disruption: concessions and standards
When the University’s assessment practices are subject to significant disruption then the Academic Policy and Regulations Committee may approve temporary concessions to mitigate the impact of assessment disruption on students, without compromising academic standards. Board of Examiners take decisions that ensure the consistency of treatment of students and the maintenance of academic standards. The overriding principles are that:
- the academic judgement of the Board of Examiners remains paramount;
- the University’s academic standards will be maintained; and
- the provisions of the University’s Taught Assessment Regulations remain in force except where a concession has been approved by the Academic Policy and Regulations Committee.
These concessions will only be used where necessary: if a Board of Examiners is able to operate without a concession then the Board will do so.
Application of the regulation
70.1 Significant disruption can be extremes of weather, loss of facilities, and factors beyond the University’s control which have an impact on the assessment of students. This may result in Boards of Examiners only having partial results available.
70.2 In response to individual significant disruptions that may have a widespread impact on assessment, the University will adopt a communication strategy for students, staff and key external stakeholders, e.g. External Examiners, to ensure that they are aware of the measures that are adopted.
70.3 All forms of assessment, such as examination scripts and course assignments, are the property and responsibility of the University, not of individual examiners or markers. They therefore must be accessible to the University when required.
70.4 Drawing on previous experience [APRC 14/15 2 C], the issues and regulations where APRC may consider concessions include, but are not limited to:
(a) External Examiners: number appointed; commenting on examination papers; participation in Boards: confirmation of results [Taught Assessment Regulations 5, 8.1(a), 38, 39.1, 39.2, 39.6, 62.3(e), 63]
(b) Ensuring that there is appropriate external input for relevant decisions, for example, External Examiners provide an important quality assurance function in the assessment process. If an External Examiner is unable to act then that quality assurance function still needs to be carried out;
(c) Board of Examiners’ quorum [TAR 39, 39.1];
(d) Progression requirements and timing of progression decisions [TAR 51, 52, 56, 56.1(a) and Degree regulations on Progression and Permissible Load];
(e) Feedback schedules [TAR 16].
Regulation 71 Significant disruption: where only partial results are available to Boards
The Academic Policy and Regulations Committee must confirm that significant disruption has occurred before the provisions of the significant disruption regulations come into effect. In periods of significant disruption, Boards may need to take decisions on the basis of partial or unreliable information. Boards must maintain the principle that students may only be awarded a pass and a mark / grade for a course, or a progression or award decision, where there is sufficient evidence of performance against relevant learning outcomes. Boards in possession of all information necessary to proceed with the assessment of a student should proceed to determine marks and grades for courses, and progression and award decisions, as usual. Boards in possession of all information necessary to proceed with the assessment of only some students should proceed to determine marks and grades, and progression and award decisions, for those students.
The below Application to the regulation provides information about the principles which Boards will apply when dealing with missing or unreliable results, and some of the actions they may take to address this. In line with TAR 70, Academic Policy and Regulations Committee may approve additional concessions to the regulations to enable Boards to take decisions regarding students with incomplete or unreliable profiles of assessment marks or course results due to disruption.
Application of the regulation
71.1 Where Boards have sufficient evidence to make decisions then the decision will be made and will stand, unless subsequent information becomes available which it would be in the student’s academic interest for the Board to consider.
71.2 Situations may arise in which assessment results are unavailable for particular elements of assessment for all students or for only some students. Such elements of assessment may become available after the disruption is over.
71.3 Within the limits described below, Boards are empowered to make decisions in the absence of assessment results which are expected to become available at a later date.
71.4 At the start of the meeting to determine course outcomes, the Board of Examiners must agree on any specific elements of assessment without whose marks they cannot proceed to determine a student’s result for the course. Before making such a decision, the Board should consider carefully whether there is sufficient other information already available to allow it to take a view on such elements of assessment. If it is not possible to determine a result or decision then the Board will reconvene when information is available.
71.5 Where a very high proportion of the assessment results are available for a course for an individual student, it is possible that the Board may decide it is able to determine a student’s marks and grades for the course. The Board must be satisfied that, in its academic judgement, the mark and grade assigned is correct, and that the outcome will not need to be changed when further assessment results become available.
71.6 As a guide, where results for less than four-fifths (by weighting) of the assessment for a course are available for an individual student, it is unlikely that the Board will be able to determine a mark or grade for the course for that individual. However, if at least half of the assessment results are available, then the Board may decide it is able to confirm a pass for the student. If unable to reach a decision, even on a pass, the Board should record that insufficient information on which to make a decision was available at that time. When further results become available the Board will need to reconvene to determine the appropriate mark and grade.
71.7 Where less than half of the assessment results are available for a course for an individual student, it is unlikely that the Board will have sufficient information to reach any decision, even on a pass, and the Board may need to record that insufficient information on which to make a decision was available at that time. When further results become available the Board will need to reconvene to determine the appropriate mark and grade.
71.8 No Board should return a fail decision in a situation where any unavailable assessment results will become available at a later date, unless it is absolutely clear that even passes at 100% in the unavailable assessments would not be sufficient to turn a fail into a pass.
71.9 Boards of Examiners responsible for progression and award decisions may be required to make decisions on these matters where students have incomplete or unreliable profiles of course results. This may occur where students have yet to receive final results for some courses; or where students have been awarded a pass but not a mark or grade for some courses; or where marks for some courses are not regarded as a reliable indicator of students’ ability due to disruption. In some circumstances, Boards may be in a position to address this using existing provisions of these regulations, such as the award of credit on aggregate for Honours and postgraduate taught students. Boards may also consider excluding missing or adversely affected course results when making calculations regarding credit on aggregate, progression, award, Honours degree classification, and the award of Merit and Distinction on postgraduate taught degrees. Boards may also wish to take account of the impact of disruption for students who are in the borderline for progression or award purposes.
71.10 Once all assessment results are available, Boards should reconvene at the earliest possible opportunity to determine outstanding marks, grades, and progression and award decisions and to review the status of any decisions where significant information is now available.