Students Staff
University of Essex

April 16, 2020

Whatever your circumstances, you will not be disadvantaged

Our Academic Registrar, Richard Stock, tells us more about the measures we’re taking to support you to succeed, to progress to the next stage of your studies or graduate this summer. Whatever your circumstances, you will not be disadvantaged in this by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In previous updates, I have explained why we are continuing with assessment during the summer term. We are committed to our students’ success and want to provide you with opportunities to demonstrate your learning and to continue and complete your programmes of study. While the methods of assessment may have changed, you will still only be assessed on the content of your modules that you have been able to study this year.

The revised examination timetable was published on Monday 6 April. While you are expected to undertake the assessment set out in your timetable in the same way that you would have been expected to sit the exams that were planned before the COVID-19 pandemic started, we genuinely recognise the difficult circumstances that you are facing. We want to enable you to demonstrate your learning, but we also recognise that you might have been significantly affected by the pandemic and you might not be able to give of your best. You may have caring or childcare responsibilities, other personal commitments, or may find it difficult to access IT facilities, all of which might affect your academic performance. The pandemic itself may be causing you to worry as you adjust to the implications of social distancing and protecting yourself and your family and friends. We have a range of services available to you, including to support your mental health and wellbeing.

No detriment policy

Many of you have been asking about the University’s position on a ‘No Detriment’ Policy. We want to support you to succeed in these difficult times. We care about you and your future and I want to stress that we are fully committed to ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect your academic performance unfairly. We have agreed an approach to ‘No Detriment’ that responds to the exceptional circumstances we are all facing together while recognising your needs as individual students and the different requirements of your modules and courses.

I want to use my update to highlight the main elements of our ‘No Detriment’ approach for you. Please read the full details of our alternative assessment and no detriment approach on our website, which will continue to be updated regularly.

Our approach will be applied for all taught students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, and all assessment you have or will undertake in this academic year, including coursework and dissertations, as well as the alternative assessment.

The ‘No Detriment’ policy applies to all departments and schools without exception and our policies will be applied, as they normally do, through the Board of Examiners to all taught students and all programmes of study.

If you can’t take your alternative assessment right now, for whatever reason, we will offer you another opportunity with no penalty.

If your module cohort as a whole performs more poorly than we would expect based on the last 3 years of students taking that module, the Board of Examiners will consider the marks and take action to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

Many of you will have already completed a number of pieces of assessed work and coursework during your modules. These will be used by the Board of Examiners to determine if you have already met the learning outcomes for the module. Where this is the case, the alternative assessment that you undertake during the summer term cannot reduce your overall module mark. You do not need to check whether you have met the learning outcomes and you are not required to provide evidence. This will be determined by the Board of Examiners, as a result of the assessment you have or will undertake.

Some of you may be concerned because you have not taken or passed assessments in your modules earlier in the year that have allowed you to demonstrate the full range of your learning (the “learning outcomes”). While you do need to take the alternative assessment to demonstrate your achievements, I want to assure you that our ‘no detriment’ approach also applies to you. If you take an assessment but feel that under the current circumstances, you are not at your best, we will offer you another opportunity with no penalty. We have strengthened and streamlined our extenuating circumstances processes to ensure that we identify and support all students who experience or have experienced difficulties this year with assessment. More information on the process is being finalised now and will be published very soon.

All decisions by the Board of Examiners will take into account the impact of the pandemic and you will not be disadvantaged by the difficulties created by COVID-19.

Student Support Services

We continue to be focused on ensuring your success remains our priority and we want to support you. If you have any questions about your course or modules, please contact the professional services team in your Department or School.

For specific queries relating to COVID-19, please email our dedicated team at covid19@essex.ac.uk.

We have created a dedicated set of COVID-19 webpages, which provide a wealth of information on support available and they are updated very regularly.

Our Student Services Hubs for ColchesterSouthend and Loughton are operating phone, email and live chat facilities; and our Library team can live chat via the website or you can email them enquiries at libline@essex.ac.uk.

We know this continues to be a tough time for you and we are always here to help. I will ensure you are updated regularly, but please keep an eye on your Essex email and all our usual communication channels. As ever, support each other as much as you can and do not hesitate to get in touch if you need us.

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