The University has assured that it has designed ‘robust’ methods of assessment ‘in light of the pandemic’Louis Ashworth

The University has confirmed that it will not adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy when assessing students’ work this year.

Following the University’s closure in Easter Term last year after it moved to the red phase of its coronavirus response, it adopted a safety net for all finalist undergraduates so that they would not receive a class mark lower than that which they had achieved in their 2019 examinations. 

It was also announced that all first and second year undergraduates would not receive a class for their exam results, but instead receive feedback.

A spokesperson for the University told Varsity that a similar safety net would not be established this year because “last year’s results relied on summative assessments from the previous year and, since these are not available for 2020, it would be inappropriate to replace this system.”

The statement continued: “Further methods of assessment have been specifically designed for this academic year to ensure that they are robust in the light of the pandemic. Students should be reassured that their academic performance will be assessed fairly and any disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken into account.”

The spokesperson revealed that more details on a package of exam-related measures will be released later in Lent Term, which will follow “consultation with Faculties, Departments and student representatives, to safeguard student achievements from the impacts of the pandemic and the quality and integrity of a Cambridge degree.”


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This decision comes as Russell Group universities released a statement on Thursday (07/01) in which it announced that it would not provide safety nets for its exams this year due to “the scarcity of pre-pandemic benchmarking data available for many students”, and out of “duty to all students to protect academic standards and uphold the integrity of our degrees.”

So far, the University of York has broken ranks with other Russell Group Universities by announcing a safety net for its students.

Elsewhere, petitions at Russell Group Universities calling for the imposition of a safety net have gained traction, with a petition from students at the University of Bristol gaining almost 4,000 signatures (as of 10/01). 

Rent Strike Cambridge (RSC) also added a ‘no detriment’ policy to its demands this Thursday (07/01), with an open letter on the matter expected by tomorrow evening (11/01). RSC additionally demanded this evening (10/01) that the University "allows all non-finalists to proceed to their next year of study."

An RSC spokesperson told Varsity: “It’s absolutely essential that the University offer students no detriment policies this year. Students should not be expected to produce the same quality of work they would under normal circumstances. Failure to implement this policy would surely be a significant oversight with regards to students’ mental health.”

Varsity has contacted Cambridge Students’ Union for comment.