Students Staff
University of Essex

March 16, 2020

Summer examinations and assessment in response to COVID-19

Our Academic Registrar, Richard Stock, provides further information about our plans to manage summer examinations and assessment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are in unprecedented times and responding to a fast-moving global problem. In developing our plans, our primary concern is the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. The arrangements we are putting in place are designed to minimise the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus while ensuring that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

As the Vice-Chancellor confirmed on Friday, we have agreed that, whenever possible, we will not run examinations that require you to be physically present on campus during the summer term. This applies to all groups of taught students, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

This does not mean that summer assessment has been cancelled.

Alternative Assessment

Over recent weeks, we have been working with Departments and Schools to agree alternative approaches to assessing your learning in the summer term. There are a number of elements to this:

  • We will make use of alternative assessment methods, for example, using ‘take home’ examinations based on examination papers that have already been prepared.
  • We will ensure that any alternative assessment continues to meet our rigorous academic standards in line with our commitment to excellence in education.
  • We will ensure that alternative assessments give you appropriate equivalent opportunities to demonstrate your learning.
  • We recognise that some courses and modules have external accreditation requirements. We are actively working with relevant accreditating bodies to ensure that accreditation requirements are managed through this process.
  • For some modules, the nature of the assessment and/or accreditation requirements may mean that assessment on our campuses will be necessary. Where this is the case, we will ensure that any assessment undertaken will be carefully managed in line with advice from Public Health England. Please be assured that your health and wellbeing will be our top priority in all decision-making.
  • For some modules, where work already completed has demonstrated that the learning outcomes of the module have been met (for example, through coursework or formative or other types of assessment), it may be decided that no further assessment for that module is required.
  • For each module, a method of assessment will be approved that is appropriate to your learning on the module.

Details of revised assessment arrangements for each module will be published through the examinations timetable. There will be a delay to the publication of this timetable whilst we work to ensure it accurately reflects the changes to our assessment arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect the timetable to be published by no later than the end of March 2020. Once the timetable is published, Departments and Schools will provide you with further details about arrangements for alternative assessment in each module. We will communicate with you if there is likely to be any delay in the publication of the timetable.

You are advised to contact your Department or School if you have any questions. Please be aware that Departments and Schools are working hard to finalise arrangements so it may not yet be possible for all your questions to be answered fully at this stage.

We understand that you will be feeling concerned about the impact of these changes on your studies and academic performance. We are committed to supporting you and to ensuring that no student is disadvantaged as a result of the changes we are making to protect the health and wellbeing of our students and staff.

Absence from Assessment

We are reviewing our processes for managing absence from assessment to ensure we are as responsive to the situation as possible. The University already has processes in place for ensuring fair assessment outcomes when individual students’ assessment performance is adversely affected by circumstances outside your control (extenuating circumstances). Please be assured that all Boards of Examiners will take into account the impact of COVID-19 disruptions when making their progression and degree classification decisions.

Teaching Arrangements

I want to confirm the arrangements for teaching as we reach the end of the Spring term. The Vice-Chancellor announced on Friday that most face-to-face teaching and supervision would stop at 9am on Monday 16 March. Your Department or School will confirm the specific arrangements for your modules for the remainder of this academic year. You are advised to confirm with your Department or School that you do not need to remain on campus for any educational reasons before leaving.

We do not know how long it will be necessary to avoid face-to-face teaching. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will confirm any changes as they arise. As things currently stand, you should plan to return to your campus for the Summer term for revision and the summer assessment period.

However, as this is a fast-moving situation, you should be prepared for this to change as the situation evolves. We advise you to take any IT equipment and all other learning materials with you when you leave so that you can access online learning if it is necessary after the Easter vacation.

I hope this is a helpful summary of our plans. We appreciate that this is a worrying time. Please keep an eye on our website for information on how the University is responding to COVID-19. We are developing frequently asked questions guidance on our plans for the summer assessment period, which will be published through these webpages as soon as possible.

Finally, I wish you the very best during the summer assessment period and as we work together to respond to this very difficult situation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *