Summer assessment period – marking boycott impact and mitigation


May 25th, 2022

The University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed that industrial action will continue over the summer term in the form of action short of a strike. This began on Monday 23 May and coincides with the university’s assessment period.

As communicated last week, some staff may take part in a marking boycott as part of action short of a strike. While many of our students will be unaffected by this action, some may be, and students might be concerned about how this could affect their marks, progression to the next year of study, or graduation.

We will reassure students that we expect examinations and assessments to take place as currently planned. Papers are prepared well in advance of the exam period. Please encourage your students to revise and prepare to do your very best in your assessments. If students don’t complete their assessments they will get a mark of zero.

Maintaining the integrity of our awards and supporting students to achieve the assessment outcome they have worked for continue to be our absolute priorities. The university has existing regulations which mean that, despite the circumstances, we are not expecting unreasonable delays to occur and we are confident that appropriate decisions will be made regarding progression or graduation this summer. We are doing everything we can to ensure students can progress or graduate, knowing that they have met the learning outcomes and have confidence in the value of their degree.

Where marking is completed

If all the marking for modules is completed, we will use the completed module mark as usual. If the student meets the required pass marks for their programme, their progression or graduation will be unaffected by the marking boycott.

‘Part-for-whole’ marking

If students have already received marks for the module that are – according to the module guide – worth at least 40% of the module, then we will use their mark for that assessment as the whole mark for the module, on a ‘part-for-whole’ basis. The way that we do that will be described in full on our Quality Manual web pages – the updates will be live by the end of Wednesday 25 May at the latest.

To qualify for a ‘part-for-whole’ mark in an assessment that we’re not able to mark this semester, students must have completed that assessment. If they don’t complete it, they’ll receive a mark of zero for that assessment.

If the marking boycott affects students’ modules and part-for-whole marking is used to generate a mark then they can accept this as their final mark. It will appear on their transcript, and can be used to help schools make progression and classification decisions according to the normal schedule.

Derived mark

If, because of the marking boycott, we have not been able to mark assessments worth at least 40% of a module, then we will derive a mark based on past performance and give students that mark for the elements that are unmarked. The way that we do that will be described in full on our Quality Manual web pages. Updates will be live by the end Wednesday 25 May at the latest.

To qualify for a derived mark in an assessment that we’re not able to mark this semester, students must have completed that assessment. If they don’t complete it, they’ll receive a mark of zero for that assessment.

If the marking boycott affects a module and derived marking is used to generate a mark then students can accept this as their final mark. It will appear on their transcript, and can be used to help schools make progression and classification decisions according to the normal schedule.

Most students will be unaffected by the marking boycott. We expect either the part-for-whole or the derived mark regulations to apply to those students impacted. In the unlikely event that the school can’t determine whether a student has met these requirements for their programme, they will contact them direct via university email.

Option for first sit

If the marking boycott affects one of more of a student’s modules and they do not want to accept a part-for-whole or derived mark in those assessments, they can choose one of two first sit options.

  1. Waiting until their original assessment can be marked
  2. Taking the assessment again at the first opportunity and waiting for it to be marked

If they choose a first sit option, we cannot at this point give a firm date by which those assessments will be marked. This means that we cannot guarantee they will be able to progress to their next year of study, or graduate, to the expected timetable.

For finalists, if they choose either of the first sit options, derived or part-for-whole marks no longer apply. The first sit mark will be entered on to the transcript, whether it is lower or higher than the derived or part-for-whole mark.

For non-finalists, we will base current progression decisions on the marks available now, and future classification decisions on derived or part-for-whole mark, or actual mark, whichever is higher.

Programmes with PSRB requirements

Some programmes or individual modules carry an extra professional accreditation element. This may mean there are additional standards or requirements around the assessment or marking process.

If the programme or module carries these requirements, and students on those modules are likely to be affected by the marking boycott, the module/programme convenor will contact students individually via  university email to discuss options.

Graduation

Graduation ceremonies will take place through July and August. Our Registry and Academic Affairs team have sent finalists an invitation to register for the ceremonies to their university email addresses.

We understand that staff and students may have questions regarding the boycott and marks. Schools are currently working through the detail of the regulations and how the marking boycott will affect them.

If you have further questions or queries, please check our dedicated FAQs for staff and students.

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