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COVID-19 Assessment Arrangements

Our safety net policy

Safety net policy for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students with respect to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

1. Principles

This policy applies to assessments undertaken by undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in the academic year 2019-20. Please note that, for some programmes which are subject to professional regulation, we may not be permitted to apply the ‘safety net’ policy.

Student long-term success is our priority. To ensure that our students are not disadvantaged as a result of the current unprecedented circumstances, we have made some changes to our assessment and award framework. 

The 'safety net’ policy puts in place an approach to support our students through this unprecedented situation to ensure they receive marks that recognise their potential and the achievement that would have been possible without the impact of the current global pandemic. As students will already have undertaken assessments prior to the pandemic and had their marks confirmed by our Progress and Award Examination Panel, we can use these marks to set a benchmark. Any assessments for which marks are confirmed by the Progress and Award Examination Panel after 15 March 2020 will be subject to comparison against this benchmark. Students will be awarded the higher of the credit-weighted mean mark for the year of study, or the benchmark.

Students will not be awarded a credit-weighted mean mark for the year that is lower than the benchmark, as long as they pass the year of study. Students who do not submit assessments or who fail the year of study will not be eligible. Please note that this policy may not apply to programmes that are accredited by professional, regulatory and statutory bodies.

The benchmark must be both fair and robust in order to maintain the integrity of our awards. This means it will be based upon 60-credits worth of assessments to ensure there is no bias to the award.

Once the marks for assessments considered by School Assessment Boards and the Progress and Award Examination Panel after 15 March 2020 are confirmed, the credit-weighted average for the year of study will be calculated as normal. If the credit-weighted mark for the full year of study is higher than the benchmark, then this is the mark a student will achieve. If the credit-weighted mark for the full year is below the benchmark, then the student will achieve the benchmark as their credit-weighted average for the year.

2. Scope

This policy applies to students enrolled on programmes delivered in whole by the University, or in whole or part by a franchise partner institution (franchise provision), or in whole or part by a partner institutions (validated provision).

3. Calculation of the benchmark

For undergraduate students:

If students have submitted 60 credits worth of assessments or more and the marks have been confirmed by the Progress and Award Examination Panel, prior to 15 March 2020, in the current academic year, then the credit weighted average mark for these assessments is the benchmark. We calculate this using as close a process to our current methodology as possible. The calculation will double weight credits in order to calculate a credit weighted average to reflect a student’s usual yearly load of 120 credits.

If a student does not have 60 credits, we will make up the missing credits using previous years’ marks, to bring the total up to 60 credits. This will be the best credits from the previous year of study for the number of credits required to make the total up to 60 credits. This is the minimum amount of credit needed to reflect a true picture of student achievement and can then be double weighted to reflect the usual yearly load of 120 credits.

If there are not sufficient York St John credits to be able to calculate a benchmark score, due to, for example, a student being in their first year of study or entering directly into their current level, then the benchmark will be calculated on the assessments completed and will be provisional until the student has completed enough credit. The benchmark will be calculated after all normal assessment processes have been completed and the marks confirmed by the Progress and Award Panel. Please see the Code of Practice for Assessment for further details.

A provisional benchmark for those without 60 credits achieved at York St John University will be compared with the marks confirmed in Semester 2 in the same way, but if the performance falls significantly below that provisional benchmark, School Assessment Boards will have the discretion to allow marks that fall below the benchmark to stand.

Once all marks have been confirmed for the assessments submitted after 15 March 2020, they will be compared to the benchmark and the higher of the two results will be used as the overall result for the level.

The student transcript will be annotated to reflect this policy.

Credits accumulated through Study Abroad will not count towards calculating student benchmarks. 

For taught postgraduate students: 

The same principles apply. However, the confirmed benchmark will be calculated before dissertations, independent research modules, or capstone project are completed. After the June School Assessment Boards, we will re-calculate the credit weighted mean using all the results achieved so far to establish the benchmark to be used at the September Boards.

4. Application of assessment policy in applying the safety net approach:

In terms of Academic Misconduct the following will apply:

a) For work submitted before 15 March 2020, if a mark is affected by academic misconduct, then the mark attained once the penalty has been taken into consideration (e.g. pass mark or zero) will be used in the calculation of the benchmark.

b) For work submitted after 15 March 2020, academic misconduct penalties should continue to be applied where necessary. If a mark is affected by academic misconduct, then it is the mark attained once the academic misconduct has been taken into consideration (e.g. pass mark or zero) that is taken as the confirmed assessment mark, and the mark associated with this module will not be raised under the ‘safety net policy’.

In terms of Exceptional Circumstances, the following will apply:

c) Students can still apply for Exceptional Circumstances in the usual way for extensions on assessments still to be completed. The University has waived the need to include evidence related to Covid-19 and realises that not all students will be affected in the same way by the current situation.

d) Appeals on the grounds of retrospective exceptional circumstances will need evidence to demonstrate why they were not able to apply for exceptional circumstances for performance at the time.

e) Students will not be permitted to re-introduce exceptional circumstances from previous confirmed marks in order to improve their previous stage averages for consideration within benchmark calculations.

In terms of late submissions, the following will apply: 

f) Late submission penalties applied before 15 March 2020 will be used in the calculation of the benchmark. Late submission penalties applied after 15 March 2020 will be used in the calculation of the credit-weighted average of the completed year for the University’s normal calculation. Students will receive the better of the final credit-weighted average or the benchmark.

5. Operation of School Assessment Boards and the safety net

It is important to recognise that the University will closely examine individual assessment marks in the School Assessment Boards.

School Assessment Boards will have already been able to apply scaling to a module if the mean marks are out of line with previous three years’ results. This allows marks to be considered in light of past student performance and to reflect the impact of the current situation. This process will happen before the credit-weighted average for the full year of study is compared to the benchmark, and the safety net policy is applied.

Students will receive the higher calculation of either the marks they have achieved in any assessments impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, after scaling has happened as appropriate, or the safety net benchmark, calculated from their position as at 15 March 2020.

Here is an example of the Safety Net worked through:

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