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January Assessment Mitigations: Officer Statement

Tuesday 01-12-2020 - 17:08

We call on the University of Bristol to introduce more academic mitigations for January exams. Sign the petition here.

The University’s planned policy for Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) during the January assessment period do not go far enough to protect students. We are asking for the University to take urgent action to change this, and ensure students aren’t left to fail through no fault of their own. 

Students are currently facing unprecedented challenges that are having a huge impact on their education. Thousands in our community have faced serious illness in their family, infection with a potentially deadly or life-changing virus, self-isolation, halls lockdowns and more.  

In any normal year, a student experiencing these things would be seen as suffering exceptional extenuating circumstances, and it would be natural to assume mitigations were needed. It is also an unfortunate reality that every year there are students facing difficult circumstances that slip through the net because they do not understand how complex processes work, or do not realise mitigations are possible. With so many students affected this year it is obvious to us that, without action from the University, a tragic number of students will fall through the cracks. 

Last summer the University rose to this challenge.

While many in the Russell Group dithered, Bristol launched its no detriment and safety net policy, giving thousands of students a fair shot at their degree despite the circumstances.

Where the Government's approach to A-levels and GSCEs failed, Bristol University triumphed, finding a route to fairness and security for its students. It was a testament to the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of staff at all levels of the institution that Bristol found a way through.

We are not asking for the reinstatement of this policy, but some blanket mitigations are necessary to mitigate the impact Covid has had on all our studies this year. 

We understand the University is now facing substantial Government pressure to avoid “grade inflation” and the perception that it is sacrificing its academic standards. We know it is a tricky balance to ensure fairness while guaranteeing the quality of degrees, and so we are not asking for the full safety net of last summer.

But we also know, and think many colleagues at the University will agree, that the current plans do not do enough to protect students and risk devastating outcomes for those who, for whatever reason, fail to gain ECs. 

We have been asking the university to change its approach to academic mitigations for some time now and are disappointed that these calls have been ignored.

We are therefore publicly asking the University to urgently consider the following Academic Mitigations

  • Uncapped resits as standard for those who fail exams. This is in line with mitigations in place for summer assessments last year and would ensure that no student falls through the cracks.  
  • Ensure that those who have three or more 7-day exams in a week can automatically apply for extensions on one or all of them.  
  • The same allowances for ECs as in the summer assessment period, which stated there was no need to provide evidence if you did not have any.  
  • As with last year, students should not be required to submit evidence to defer their exams. 
  • Mitigations should be put in place and publicised for the loss of Alternative Exam Arrangements for disabled students, with extensions being offered to students who want them. 

 

We have written to course reps and encouraged them to reach out to their Heads of School, asking them to push for a reconsideration of the current policy.

You can also add your voice to ours by signing this petition.

We hope that the university will listen to our calls and introduce measures to ensure that no student falls through the cracks. 

In Solidarity, 

Your Bristol SU Officer Team

 

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