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Coronavirus - CS072105

An undergraduate student was expecting to sit an end of year exam for one module but the provider cancelled the exam because of the nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The provider told students that it would assess their performance in the module based on coursework undertaken during the year. It offered students the opportunity to defer their studies and sit the exam in September. The student did not defer their studies and was awarded an upper second class mark.

The student made an academic appeal to the provider saying that they had calculated, based on their coursework marks, that their average mark for the module was just below the first class boundary. They had expected the provider to exercise its discretion and award a first class mark for the module. The student made a request for additional consideration on the basis that their performance in some of the coursework had been affected by the impact of the pandemic.

The provider explained to the student that it had moderated the results for the module, calculating the marks using the raw assessment marks and applying an appropriate statistical adjustment. The provider accepted that the student’s performance had been affected and offered the student the opportunity to take the cancelled exam the following year, with a view to improving their marks.

The student complained to us. We decided the complaint was Not Justified. The student’s moderated mark was well below the borderline between first class and upper second class. We thought that it was reasonable for the provider to offer students whose circumstances had affected their performance, but whose marks were not in the borderline zone, the opportunity to sit the exam at a later stage to improve their mark, rather than to move their mark up. The provider could have given clearer information about how students’ marks would be calculated and about the moderation process. But we did not think that the student had been misled into believing that they would achieve a first class mark for the module. Their average mark was below the first class boundary before moderation. Students were told that module results would not be based solely on the coursework marks – other factors would also be considered. The provider had apologised for the initial lack of clarity about how marks would be decided. We concluded that the apology, and the offer of a further attempt in 2021, was a suitable remedy for the student.

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