Our assessment pledge 2020–21

We want to ensure that our students are supported to succeed despite the extraordinary events of this academic year, which we understand has been especially challenging.

With the support of the Students’ Union Executive Team, we're making a five-point assessment pledge to all of our taught students for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year:

1. Automatic extension

You can choose to have an automatic extension of up to seven days, for up to two individual assignments or pieces of coursework in the remainder of this academic year. This allows you to choose how to best resolve any challenges arising from deadlines ‘bunching up’. You just need to notify your School or Programme Team in advance of the original deadline, if you wish to do this. This also applies to dissertations, but not to any examinations.

These automatic extensions are available in addition to any extensions you may be granted separately, for example via mitigating circumstances or through the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS).

2. Simplifying mitigating circumstances

We'll remove the requirement to provide medical evidence for mitigating circumstances applications (COVID-19 related or otherwise). While this simplifies the mitigating circumstances procedure, you should still seek help for any medical or mental health concerns. We strongly encourage you to give as much detail as you can in your application so we can ensure you're offered appropriate support, and to speak to an appropriate member of staff in your School or elsewhere in the University.

3. Moderation in line with previous years

University-wide, we're introducing robust ways of identifying whether the marks for your whole year cohort are out of line with those from prior (non-COVID-19) years. Exam boards will review and, where appropriate, marks will be scaled to bring them more in line with previous years’ results.

We’ll also identify cases where your individual marks may be out of line with your achievements in this and previous years of your programme, and discuss this further with you to explore whether there may be mitigating circumstances.

4. Regulation changes

Every year we look carefully at students who have just missed out on a higher classification. So, for example, if your average mark was between 68% and 70%, we would look further at the profile of your marks to consider whether or not you should be awarded a first/distinction (and the same at other boundaries). This year, we’re extending the ‘boundary zones’ by 1%, so that we'll consider the higher classification for any student with 67% or above for a first/distinction and 57% for 2.1/merit, etc.

In addition, for PGT students, you can’t currently get a distinction if you have a re-sit or compensated mark, but we'll remove that barrier this year wherever we can (subject to regulatory and professional body accreditation requirements).

5. Waiving of re-sit fees

If you need to take any re-sits, we won’t charge you a fee to take any of them and we'll help you through them.

This pledge supplements a number of positive steps we've already taken this academic year, based on student feedback and with support and strong encouragements from the Students’ Union Executive Team, to ensure that our students aren't disadvantaged in their studies as a consequence of the pandemic. These include:

  • updating our Mitigating Circumstances Policy to cover technology failure, and allow self-certification of illness for up to seven days for missed classes;
  • making many of our assessments inclusive by design (where regulatory or accreditation requirements allow) so that they are accessible to all, regardless of location or disability;
  • updating our Procedures for Protecting the Interests of Students, which outline the actions to be taken by the University when an exceptional event disrupts normal academic processes and procedures, to cover the current pandemic situation;
  • ensuring that study spaces remain accessible on campus for those students who need to be here.

Signed by: Professor April McMahon, Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students. Laetitia Alexandratos, Education Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union and Nana Agyeman, Postgraduate Officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union.