The University has announced there are likely to be two phases of assessments, with students adversely affected by the coronavirus eligible for the later roundPete/Flickr

Whilst replacements for traditional exams have yet to be announced for most subjects, the University has announced that students who are unable to complete these alternatives will be able to take them at a later period, when the University is “fully operational again”.

Legitimate reasons to delay assessments will include illness (Covid-19 or others), caregiving responsibilities, poor internet connection, other technical difficulties or a lack of a suitable study environment. Those with Exam Access Arrangements or with religious observations may also qualify for the second exam period.

The University has also announced a “Special Hardship Fund” for students in financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19, with a cap of £3,350 per student. Students wishing to apply to the fund should get in contact through their Tutor or Graduate Tutors.

The news follows multiple open letters by students to the University and faculties asking them to consider multiple alternative options for examinations. It also comes as most schools shut their doors in the UK today due to the coronavirus outbreak, while GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled and will be replaced with predicted grades.

While the main assessment period for the majority of students will still take place during Easter Term, the University argues it is “likely that the normal assessment period will be extended”, and students will receive a revised assessment schedule well before this starts.

The University emphasises it is currently “difficult to predict” when the second round of assessments will be held, but that these “will be delivered in the same way” as those in the first. However, those completing assessments later will not be provided with additional teaching outside of the normal teaching period of Easter Term.

The University has confirmed that one option no longer under consideration is deferring exams to the next academic year, which it states “will not be possible”.

Students will need to inform the University if they are unable to complete their assessments in the Easter Term in order for arrangements to be made. The University acknowledged that “participation in the later assessment period by final year undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will inevitably impact on when they can graduate.”


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The University has pledged that although the exact shape exams will take is likely to vary between departments, all assessments will fall under two principles. First, the alternative methods of assessments will be “fair and academically robust” and second, “appropriate methods of mitigation” will be guaranteed for those who cannot participate in the first method.

To ensure assessments are held “rigorously and fairly”, the University says it “expects Faculties and Departments to keep to the normal principles of assessment, including using standardised papers, consistent and robust marking criteria, External Examiners and using plagiarism detection software to detect academic misconduct.”

Students may also be required to have an online viva (an oral, rather than written, examination), which the University says it has the option to conduct “under regular circumstances” to “ensure academic integrity of its degrees”.

All undergraduate students will receive further information from their Department about assessments before 31st March.

In response to the University’s update, CUSU noted that “many of you may still have questions or concerns about how this system will work in practice” and urged those with general questions or concerns to get in contact . It advised students with specific questions within their Faculty or Department to get in contact with their Academic Rep.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the following information and support is available:

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