Safety Net Policy for 2020/21

The University have updated and expanded their Safety Net Policy, in an attempt to address the constraints in the delivery of on-campus provision in 2020/21. They have said that,

"If you're graduating in 2020/21, or a later academic year, you should not be disadvantaged in terms of your achievement because of the disruption resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2019/20 Spring Semester."

Who does the Safety Net Policy 2020/21 apply to?

  • The safety net policy applies to all taught students in 2020/21, with the exception of classification of degrees.
  • Classification of degrees applies if you are starting your final year in 2020/21 or a later academic year.
  • Classification of degrees included in the 2019/20 safety net policy applies if you started your final year in 2019/20.

Purpose of the Policy

The University have said that the purpose of the Safety Net Policy is to "do what is possible to ensure that your degree classification reflects your academic attainment and is not affected by any potential dip in your academic performance in assessments undertaken during a period of disruption."

This includes the initial period of disruption from 16 March 2020 in 2019/20, but the Safety Net Policy has also been updated for 2020/21 onwards. It should be applied by Examining Boards when classifying degrees, where modules completed in 2019/20 Spring Semester contribute to your final mark and degree classification.

The updated safety net policy for 2020/21 says it is important that:

  • the degree classification reflects your academic attainment
  • the academic standards of degrees meet the requirements of the relevant national qualifications framework
  • the degrees awarded are valid and reliable, and are of an equivalent standard to degrees awarded in previous years
  • where applicable, degrees awarded satisfy the requirements of the relevant Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs).

In some circumstances, it may not be possible to apply the Safety Net Policy to all programmes because of PSRB requirements. If it is not possible to apply the Safety Net Policy because of PSRB requirements, you should receive an explanation from your Academic School.

Safety Net Policy summary

The 2020/21 safety net policy provides a package of measures as follows:

Delivery of teaching and assessment

Schools should have reviewed and, as appropriate, revised the education provision which could be confidently delivered in 2020/21. Unlike 2019/20, when there was an immediate requirement to move towards remote study, the arrangements for the delivery of teaching and assessment in 2020/21 were more expected and should have been carefully planned.

The delivery of teaching and assessment in 2020/21 is likely to be by a blend of on-campus and online activities. This is because of ongoing social distancing requirements and the constraints this places on delivery of on-campus provision. The arrangements for teaching and assessment for most programmes can be adapted to support you, if you are required to study remotely (either to self-isolate or due to the reintroduction of lockdown measures).

Remote Study Policy

A Remote Study Policy has been introduced for 2020/21 to allow you to study remotely (subject to programme eligibility), replacing on-campus activity with online provision. Some programmes cannot allow remote study because teaching and learning requires attendance, e.g. lab work. Remote study can also have student finance and visa implications. Further information on what you may need to consider is available here.

Extenuating Circumstances Policy

The Extenuating Circumstances Policy has been changed for 2020/21 to allow you to self-certify if you have extenuating circumstances. The submission of a declaration of extenuating circumstances permits:

  • a two-week extension for the submission of coursework (or deferral if the coursework cannot be submitted by the extended deadline)
  • the deferral of examinations or other time-limited assessment
  • a four-week extension for postgraduate taught Master’s dissertations (or deferral if the dissertation cannot be submitted by the extended deadline).
  • other remedies if your circumstances relate to a protected characteristic, or if you begin an assessment but become ill or suffer technical difficulties that mean you cannot complete it.

Examining Boards

The University expects Examining Boards to ensure that the standards achieved by student cohorts in 2020/21 are comparable with previous years to prevent disadvantage. Module marks for the 2020/21 cohort should be compared against module marks of cohorts in previous years and, where there is an unexplained variation, scaling should be applied.

If you attempt an assessment for the first time during the 2020/21 academic year (excluding the resit period) but fail the module, you should be offered a re-sit, provided you have not exceeded the number of attempts allowed. If this was your first attempt, the re-sit should be uncapped.

Very importantly:

  • This only applies to your first attempt(s) at any particular module(s) for this academic year.
  • You must attempt the assessments for the Safety Net to apply. If you do not attempt an assessment and have not declared extenuating circumstances prior to the specified deadline, the resit mark will be capped. 

    In order for an assessment to have been attempted, you must have submitted your assessed work by the stipulated deadline e.g. submit coursework or an examination script in the specified format.

    If assessed work is not submitted by the specified deadline, and no extenuating circumstances have been declared, you will be deemed to have not attempted the assessment.

  • The Re-sit and Repeat Rules still apply. You can find these rules in the University's Academic Regulations Handbook (pp 32-34 for Modular Taught Programmes). There is a limit on the number of credits you are allowed to re-sit during the re-sit period. If you fail more than this allowed number, you may be able to repeat the year next year and re-sit the modules then. If you fail more credits than you are allowed to repeat, you will be withdrawn from your course.

Classification of degrees

If you are graduating in 2020/21, Examining Boards should apply the following variations when classifying degrees.

Undergraduate degrees

If you are eligible for the award of a degree by the achievement of the required number of credits, a final mark (A) is calculated to classify the degree in accordance with the academic regulations and the programme information. The final mark is the combined average of the module marks contributing to the final award, weighted according to the classification rule for the programme and credit value of the modules.

To ensure that individual students are not disadvantaged by the disruption in 2019/20, an average mark (B) will also be calculated weighted according to the classification rule for the programme and credit value of the modules which will exclude assessments completed in 2019/20 after 16 March 2020.

The mark used to classify the degree for each individual student will be whichever is the higher of either the final mark (A) or average mark (B).

The modified secondary rule will also apply for undergraduate degrees.

Postgraduate taught degrees

The modified secondary rule will be used for postgraduate taught degrees.

The secondary rule

The secondary rule (para 5.5, Regulations for modular taught programmes - PDF) permits Examining Boards to award you with a higher degree classification based on your profile of marks.

Because there is a risk some module marks achieved in 2019/20 may not reflect your potential outcome, the requirement to achieve a final mark within 2% of the degree classification boundary is removed from the rule.

For example, for 3 year programmes the secondary rule for a first class degree specifies:

If you achieve a final mark of 68% or 69%, you will be awarded a degree classification of First Class Honours provided that

  • you have achieved a module mark of 70% or more in modules at level 5 or level 6 to the value of at least 120 credits, and 
  • at least 60 of these credits were achieved at level 6.

Under the safety net policy, the requirement to achieve a final mark of 68% or 69% is removed from the rule and to be awarded a first class degree will be based only on the requirement to achieve the required value of credits.

Additional regulations, policies and procedures

The 2020/21 Safety Net Policy is supplementary to the regulations, policies and procedures included in the Academic Regulations Handbook. The Academic Regulations Handbook confirms details of the following which will apply in 2020/21:

  • the progression, resit and repeat rules (Regulations for Modular Taught Programmes)
  • condonement (Assessment and Examining Board Regulations)
  • discounting (Assessment and Examining Board Regulations).

Examining Boards will apply the provisions of the academic regulations if there is a need to address any issues which may arise in 2020/21.

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