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Assessment

COVID-19 Assessment Arrangements

Securing student success: a fair approach to assessment and award during the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.

This page includes the detail on our COVID-19 assessment arrangements, including the safety net policy. This policy applied to students in the 2019-20 academic year to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown.

The impact of the global coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic and stringent social distancing measures introduced by the government have changed the way universities operate. We have responded to protect your safety and your long-term academic success is now our priority.

After careful review and consultation on what will work best for York St John University students, we have developed an approach to ensure that you are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond your control.

We want you to be rewarded for your hard work and achievement and have the opportunity to achieve your potential in meeting the learning outcomes for your degree.

To do this, we have:

  • Introduced a Safety Net policy to guarantee that your programme-level average will not be lower than a benchmark calculated from confirmed assessment outcomes so far;
  • Changed our approach to assessment; and
  • Introduced greater flexibility in the application of exceptional circumstances in response to the impact on you.

These changes are intended to:

  • Ensure that you are not disadvantaged by the current unprecedented circumstances;
  • Ensure that, wherever possible, you are able to complete your programme of study or to progress to your next academic year on time;
  • Protect you by maintaining quality and standards in teaching, learning and assessment and ensuring that your qualification holds its value over time.

Our Safety Net policy

We want to make sure that you are not disadvantaged if your performance in your assessments is negatively impacted during the pandemic. To reduce the pressure on you at this difficult time, we have introduced a Safety Net policy for all* taught undergraduate and postgraduate students.

As long as you qualify to progress or to graduate based on the marks you achieve this year, we will guarantee that your credit-weighted, mean average mark (benchmark) for the year will remain the same as, or be higher than, the average you have obtained up to Sunday 15 March. If you achieve higher marks in assessments submitted after Sunday 15 March, you will be able to raise your average mark for the year.

This means that, as long as you continue to submit an assessment and pass the year, the marks you achieve will either confirm your existing benchmark score or improve it.

Once the marks for assessments you submit after 15 March 2020 are confirmed, we will calculate your credit-weighted average for the year as normal. If your average mark for the whole year is higher than your benchmark score, then this is the mark you will achieve. If your mark is below the benchmark, then we will use the benchmark as your credit-weighted average for the year.

Like other universities, we are doing everything we can to make the case to professional bodies to be as accommodating as possible under these circumstances.

*Please note, for that some programmes which are subject to professional regulation, we may not be permitted to apply the Safety Net policy. We are awaiting feedback from professional bodies, and your School will communicate with you separately about this, and what it means for you.

Our overriding priority continues to be your wellbeing and long-term success. By making adaptations to the way you are assessed for all of your modules and introducing flexibility to how you demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes for your year of study, we will ensure that the value of your degree is protected over time. We also know that, for many of you, being able to continue with learning and assessment over the coming term will be important for your wellbeing. Despite the challenging circumstances, and if at all possible, we do encourage you to keep engaged with your studies.

Our approach to assessment

You should have already heard from your School about changes that have been made to your upcoming assessment. These changes take into account the unfamiliar context of teaching and learning taking place at a distance and provide you with a fair opportunity to meet the learning outcomes for your programme of study.

Where your learning outcomes in a module can be reliably assessed through work that you have already submitted, we have removed other components of assessment. Where an assessment component that you were due to complete is no longer appropriate (e.g. an in-person examination, performance or presentation), we have put in place an alternative assessment that will best enable you to achieve the learning outcomes. Where deadlines for assessment components were no longer appropriate, we have changed these.

If you have a Learning Support Plan, your adjustments will be honoured for any changed assessment as they would be for any other assessment component.

We have also given School Assessment Boards, who confirm progression and award decisions, an additional power this year. If the mean average mark for a module or an individual assessment component is below previous student performance for that module, or out of line with the overall performance of the student cohort, the Board can apply a process of scaling to the entire cohort. Scaling can be used to raise the marks for the entire cohort in the assessment or in the module to bring it in line with expected performance. Please note, for that some programmes which are subject to professional regulation, we may not be permitted to apply the ‘scaling’ policy.

In making these changes, we want you to be reassured that your qualification will still hold its value over time. These changes have been scrutinised by the external examiner for your programme of study. External examiners are unbiased subject experts. Our external examiners have confirmed that the changes we have made are fair and will not undermine the standard of your award.

Our commitment to your success

We recognise that the pandemic will have impacted on you in different ways. Whether you are experiencing ill health, having to self-isolate, caring for dependents, unable to access remote learning, or finding that existing challenges are being exacerbated, it is likely that the impact on you won’t be exactly the same as the impact on others studying on your programme. It’s important that any adjustments we make are right for you.

Although we recognise that talking about ‘exceptional circumstances’ in the current climate might seem strange, it’s the name of the process we use to make adjustments that are specific to your circumstances. To ensure that you get an adjustment that is right for you, we have simplified and accelerated our exceptional circumstance process and do not require you to submit evidence.

If you have already told us that you don’t have access to IT or broadband to engage in your studies or complete your assessment at a distance, we will be calling you in the next few days to discuss how we can support you.

Your wellbeing

The current circumstances are unprecedented and difficult to manage. Protecting your physical and mental health is incredibly important and our staff across the University are dedicated to supporting you over the coming weeks. Please do reach out to your academic tutor, the Study Skills Advice Team or Wellbeing Team, if you require any advice or assistance at all during this very challenging time.

We know that we cannot fully alleviate the anxiety you will be feeling at the moment but hope that the decisions we have taken will enable you to continue to engage in your studies without worry that achievements you have already made will be undermined.

Thank you for taking the time to read this important information and for your patience whilst we have established an approach that we believe works best for you.

Best wishes from,

Professor Karen Bryan, Vice Chancellor, York St John University

Jenny Marchant, President of Education, York St John University Students’ Union

Tim Holmes, President of Students’ Union, York St John University Students’ Union

Kirsten Jolley, President of Wellbeing and Diversity, York St John University Students’ Union

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