Exams and Assessments: An Update on How We’re Representing You

Following today's announcement on your upcoming alternative assessments that will replace the standard term three face-to-face exams, VP Education Kate Roberts updates you on all the hard work that has been carried out to represent your interests and ensure you can fulfil your academic potential.

Kate Roberts, VP Education

All year round, we work hard to represent your interests, which includes lobbying and working with the University to improve your academic experience – and we aren’t going to let a global pandemic get in the way of us accomplishing our mission.

For the last few weeks, we have been in meetings around the clock to represent you during these unique circumstances where we are witnessing unprecedented change.

We know you have been waiting eagerly for today's announcement on your upcoming alternative assessments that will replace the standard term three face-to-face exams. Firstly, a huge thank you from us for your patience, we know it has been hard, but these are big changes that required time to get right.

It was extremely important that we had this time to reflect your voice in our discussions with the University, to make sure all students are supported throughout this period and to ensure you achieve a degree you are proud of.

Read the announcement

Some big changes to your assessments

Assessments are something that you gear up to for the whole of the year and they are undoubtedly the pressure points in a university experience. That’s why we have been spending a lot of time in meetings over the last few weeks to iron out some of the changes that have needed to be made.

All of the original face-to-face examinations you were due to sit have been replaced by alternative assessments. You can find a link to your School page below that will give you the detail about how these assessments will work for you in your department:

As soon as it became clear that physical examinations were not feasible, we have been in constant dialogue with the University to explore new ways of assessment that are still fair, accessible and enable you to fulfil your academic potential!

We have continually raised student views which have allowed each alternative assessment to be shaped in a way that supports you best and reflects the need of your particular subject.

You will not be asked to attempt an alternative assessment in a style you are not already familiar with and we have also raised the need for you to have an opportunity to practice these assessments, this has been provided and you will have a chance to do this at the beginning of next term.

Taking challenging working conditions into account

We have been aware, and we have heard directly from you, that some of you may have challenging working conditions at home. Therefore we have also ensured that these assessments have taken into account students in different time zones, those with a lack of suitable quiet place to study, those with a lack of access to reliable Wi-Fi, and numerous other specific difficulties that have occurred due to the current situation.

Whilst we have been in these discussions and representing you within these, there is also an element of academic judgement within these decisions. This is why you will see, and you may hear from your friends, that different disciplines are taking slightly different approaches. Therefore, if you do foresee a particular issue with your working arrangements, then please do contact your module leader or Head of Department as soon as you can to explain your current access needs.

Due to the complicated nature of timetabling 24-hour exams, the timetable will be released on Wednesday 8 April. The start of the examination period will be Monday 4 May.

An update on the ‘no detriment’ policy

One of the main things you will have seen in today’s email is the introduction of a safety net (‘no detriment’) policy. There are two key parts:

  • Safety Net: The 'safety net' means that you cannot achieve below your current average grade for your final degree classification if you are a final year student.
  • Best 90: The 'Best 90' means that your final year mark, which includes these alternative assessments, will be based on results from your best 90 credits (out of the 120 you are taking).

Therefore, if you are a final year student your degree result will be the better option of either your safety net grade or your best 90 credits. More details can be found here.

An update on the extenuating circumstances process

We have also been working hard to input into the extenuating circumstances process for the remainder of this academic year, to ensure it supports you and allows you to note anything you feel impacted your ability to complete the upcoming alternative assessments. Some key changes in this area:

  • All ECs will not require evidence as this is near impossible to obtain at present.
  • Requests for ECs will be automatically approved and considered by the Exam Board.
  • For first attempts and repeat attempts, all undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will be offered an uncapped resit if needed.

More information about this can be found here. ECs are submitted after the assessment they relate to and a form will be available soon for this, if you need any further support please do contact our Advice Centre on advice@su.rhul.ac.uk.

Where can I find more information?

We have worked with the University to ensure there is now a hub specifically for all the information you need relating to your upcoming alternative assessments, this will make it easier for you to find all of the new information in one place. In this hub you can find information on the safety net and 'Best 90' policy, deferring your assessment, arrangements for students registered with DDS, extensions and ECs, results, graduation, and a contact list if you have any further questions.

Thank you!

We would also like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of the students and to the University staff who have worked together collectively to make these changes over the last few weeks.

The staff team at the University have worked incredibly hard to create these new processes and they have been receptive and open in response to our questions and queries throughout. 

Finally, thank you for your understanding and patience, we know this is a hugely difficult time.

If you have any specific questions about the information you have received today, please do contact your module leader or Head of Department or reach out to one of us on social media or via our emails. Stay safe and well, and we hope to see you (virtually) soon!

Contact us

All of the Officer team can be contacted by email or via our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

Jack O'Neill (President) - president@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUPresident

Kate Roberts (VP Education) - vpeducation@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUEducation

Lucy Simpson (VP Welfare & Diversity) - vpwelfare@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUWelfare

Sophia Bolton (VP Societies & Media) - vpsocieties@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUSocs

Dom Brown (VP Sport) - vpsports@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUSport