As a result of the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the University has introduced the following regulations, which are also available on the Assessment Regulations website:
The following messages were sent to all External Examiners at Teesside University regarding assessment arrangements during the Covid 19 Pandemic 2020/21
IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL TEESSIDE UNIVERSITY EXTERNAL EXAMINERS REGARDING ASSESSMENT ARRANGEMENTS DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC 2020/21 (10 February 2021)
I hope that you are all keeping well.
As you will be aware from our previous communications (accessible from External Examiners (tees.ac.uk)), Teesside University put in place clear arrangements for the oversight and management of our response to the pandemic that focussed on two key principles: Safeguarding staff and students and sustaining the delivery of the curriculum. These measures included the implementation of the Exceptional Management of Taught Awards (known as Exceptional Academic Regulations) and a No Detriment Approach.
The Exceptional Academic Regulations (once invoked) provided the University's Academic Board with the authority to determine awards and the progression of continuing students where the University is, because of exceptional circumstances beyond its reasonable control, unable to apply the standard Assessment Regulations, Assessment and Feedback Policy and External Examiner processes as approved for that academic year. At the start of 2020/21, Academic Board agreed that the Exceptional Academic Regulations would remain in force for the remainder of this academic year and minor updates were approved for 2020/21 to clarify sections 2.1 and 5.
The University approved the No Detriment Approach (NDA) in 2019/20, to provide a 'safety net' for students, which calculated a student's overall score for the academic year, acknowledging the exceptional circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The No Detriment Approach has been reviewed for use in 2020/21 and has been amended to meet the evolving requirements of the pandemic. Both the Exceptional Academic Regulations and the NDA can be found on our Assessment Regulations webpage. Naturally, the Office for Students and Quality Assurance Agency's recently updated guidance, and practice across the sector, have informed this review. The 2020/21 Approach focuses on supporting students with reassessment opportunities and more flexible progression. As all module assessments have taken place during the ongoing pandemic, the Approach does not include a benchmark calculation. The Approach also clarifies how outcomes from 2019/20 will inform award calculations in 2020/21.
A fundamental principle of the original NDA was that students were required to complete all their assessments and achieve a minimum pass for the academic year. This principle remains unchanged and will ensure that students' achievements are reliably assessed and are in line with our existing Assessment Regulations wherever possible (and any PSRB variances). These requirements provide confidence that student outcomes will be reliable, and that academic quality and standards are maintained and secure.
Our last communication noted that from September 2020, the University would adopt a Hybrid Delivery Model (HDM) consisting of on campus and online delivery that is distinctive from existing forms of online or blended delivery, subject to Government guidance. At the time of writing, the University is in a period of restricted operations and is only delivering on-campus, face to face teaching for a small number of critical courses in health/medicine, social work and other courses that lead to vital, public sector roles and plans to, once again, offer students the opportunity to spend some time on campus and some time learning online, as the current restrictions are lifted. The University provided comprehensive support to academic colleagues, enabling them to design and deliver courses and modules through the HDM and Course Teams will have involved External Examiners in the process of making specific changes to their provision. The primary vehicles used for this were the Module Assessment Trackers [MATs] and the Resilience Review Tool [RRT].
The University is planning on holding Module and Progression/Award Assessment Boards during 2020/21 via MS Teams and Schools will keep you fully informed of these arrangements.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know that the Academic Registry department is currently undergoing a restructure and will result in the rebranding of the department as Student Learning & Academic Registry (SLAR) from 15 February 2021. The APR@tees.ac.uk email address will remain unchanged.
Thank you for your continued assistance.
The following messages were sent to all External Examiners at Teesside University in relation to the Covid-19 Outbreak.
Important Message to all Teesside University External Examiners Regarding Assessment Arrangements During the Covid 19 Pandemic (Sent 4 June 2020)
I hope that you are all keeping well.
As you will be aware from our previous communications, here at Teesside University, we re-acted early in response to the pandemic and in late January, put in place clear arrangements for the oversight and management of our response to the situation focusing on two key principles: Safeguarding staff and students and sustaining the delivery of the curriculum.
In further response to the pandemic and to student feedback, the University has recently approved the Exceptional Management of Taught Awards (known as Exceptional Academic Regulations) and a No Detriment Approach, which can be found on our Assessment Regulations webpage.
The Exceptional Academic Regulations (once invoked) provide the University's Academic Board with the authority to determine awards and the progression of continuing students where the University is, because of exceptional circumstances beyond its reasonable control, unable to apply the standard Assessment Regulations, Assessment and Feedback Policy and External Examiner processes as approved for that academic year.
As a result of the invocation of the Exceptional Academic Regulations the University approved the No Detriment Approach (NDA), to provide a 'safety net' for students, which calculates a student's overall score for the academic year, acknowledging the exceptional circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. A fundamental principle of the NDA is to require students to complete all their assessments and achieve a minimum pass for the academic year and will ensure that students' achievements are reliably assessed and are in line with our existing Assessment Regulations wherever possible (and any PSRB variances). These requirements are likely to mean that the No Detriment Approach will not have an inflationary impact on grades, provide confidence that student outcomes will be reliable and that academic quality and standards are maintained and secure.
From September 2020, the University will adopt a hybrid delivery model consisting of on-campus and online delivery, aligned with Government social distancing restrictions. This model is distinctive from existing forms of online or blended delivery. Subject to Government guidance, all students can expect the opportunity to spend some time on campus and some time learning online. The extent of either will depend on the evolution of the pandemic and the requirements of individual disciplines. As the new delivery model evolves, Course Teams will be in touch with External Examiners regarding any specific changes to their provision.
The University commissioned an independent Critical Friend Review, to provide assurance on the University's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the strategic decisions it has made to how it delivers teaching, supports its students and manages assessment. The process included sight of the draft No Detriment Approach (NDA) and Exceptional Academic Regulations. The Critical Friend Report found that there was clear alignment between the arrangements we have put in place (the NDA, Exceptional Academic Regulations, changes to assessment strategies noted in our previous communication to you, a blanket 7-day extension and a deferral option offered to students), and the guidance published by the OfS and QAA, and practice across the sector.
So that we can ensure the smooth running of our assessments boards, I would be grateful if you could please advise us at the earliest possible opportunity if you are unable to undertake your examining role in the coming weeks, so that we can make alternative arrangements.
To review all previous communication in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, please visit our new External Examiner website where there is a page dedicated to Covid-19 information (including links to the Exceptional Management of Taught Awards and a No Detriment Approach).
Thank you for your cooperation in these challenging times.
Important Message to All External Examiners Regarding Assessment During the Covid-19 Outbreak (Sent 1 April 2020)
Further to our previous communication below, sent to all our External Examiners on 19th March, we would like to bring your attention to the recent information, which was circulated to all our students and staff on Friday 27th March 2020.
- Students are encouraged to continue with their assessments and course, wherever possible, so that they can progress or complete their studies as planned.
- Staff are being provided with additional support to enable a successful transition to online delivery and assessment.
- All students have been given an automatic one-week extension for each assessment due to be handed in until the end of the May 2020 (with the exception of online exams and scheduled live online presentations). Schools will provide students with additional guidance regarding this approach.
- In addition, and to support students who are unable to continue with their assessments, all students have been offered the opportunity to defer, to enable them to complete their assessments later in the year. All students who were due to submit assessments in the May 2020 assessment period, have the option to defer submission until August 2020. This will however, have implications for consideration at Assessment Boards and graduation.
- Students have been provided with further information and FAQs are available from the University website.
Whilst we will continue to provide you with further updates as our institutional approach develops, Schools will be contacting you directly regarding changes to assessment strategies and Assessment Board dates in due course.
Important message to External Examiners regarding new measures as a result of Covid-19 (Send 19 March 2020)
Further to the Prime Minister’s recent briefing on the escalated measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), Teesside University has been reviewing the implementation of business continuity. This will include some additional bespoke solutions around student learning, assessment practices and the External Examiner processes, whilst continuing to safeguard our academic standards.
In summary, the University is taking the following actions:
- As from Monday 23rd March 2020, the delivery of all teaching will be via the VLE. Staff and students have been informed of this change and are being fully supported.
- We are collecting information in order to approve alternative forms of online assessment where this is possible. As you would imagine this will primarily focus on a move away from face to face examinations. Placement activities are being continually reviewed in light of relevant PSRB guidance. All adjustments will be in place for the period of the pandemic only.
- We plan to engage with you as much as possible in terms of external moderation processes, via our online/Blackboard portals. Module Boxes will be made available on Blackboard wherever possible and these will provide you with access to information, documentation and student work, marks etc in order for you to carry out the standard moderation processes.
- We are reviewing our taught regulations and policies to ensure that we have the flexibility to facilitate student progression and award where the majority of the assessment load has been completed. This will be achieved via the approval of a set of Regulations for Exceptional Circumstances that will be appended to our standard Assessment Regulations. These new regulations will maintain the principles of the standard regulations and wherever possible, the standard Assessment Regulations will take precedence. These regulations will be published on the University’s Assessment Regulations page once they have been approved.
- The University is working closely with its partner institutions to ensure the integrity of the student learning experience and academic standards.
- Module/Progression/Award Assessment Boards that are scheduled for May/June 2020 are likely to take place virtually and we will provide more information on this as our plans develop. In the meantime, in line with the advice from the Government and Public Health England, we are advising you not to travel to Teesside University until further notice. If you do need to claim for any recent travel / expenses, please note that our Finance department have requested that with immediate effect, any expenses should be claimed within one month from date of travel.
We will of course keep you up to date with further developments and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any queries you may have in the meantime via APR@tees.ac.uk
Thank you for your cooperation and I hope that this provides assurance that the University continues to uphold it’s academic standards and quality processes in these very challenging circumstances.