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The university has today announced that in-person teaching will not return until Trinity term, for all but a few exempted courses. Unless students hear from their faculty otherwise, or have communicated with their colleges, they are being told not to return to Oxford for the remainder of term.
Further to this this University has announced it’s commitment to the Student Union’s suggested rescaling policy: ‘by comparing the overall class distribution as well as the mean and spread of marks and adjusting by scaling where necessary.’ This will see means and distributions of classifications of previous years being replicated in order to reduce the detriment to student’s marks from the pandemic, and will affect all cohorts. They have not yet committed to a re-weighting policy as outlined by the SU.
The University have also committed to changes to the mitigating circumstances policy, allowing for more ease within the process, and the removal of the need to provide independent medical evidence. They will also now allow “explanatory statements” for use in the marking phase of some coursework submissions where access to resources has been impacted. This will allow students to highlight barriers and disruptions they have faced.
The Student Union have made a statement in response to these changes: “We know this will create significant concern for all students and will be working with the University to ensure students, especially those with key in-person teaching or lab work, are able to return as soon as possible. We understand students may have concerns about returning to Oxford and the services available and remain committed to working with the collegiate University to prioritise consistency, transparency and the safety of all”.
However, they also noted that “While we are happy to see the University commit to these policies, we believe still more can be implemented to ensure fair outcomes for students and recognition of the incredibly tough year students have endured.”
“That’s why we’ll be continuing our work to ensure that students get the best deal for their exams and assessment this year. All students, including postgraduate taught and research students deserve the recognition of their hard work and should not be disadvantaged by the pandemic.
We will continue to lobby for a more robust, transparent, and expanded mitigating circumstances process, including pushing for mitigating circumstances to affect outcome marks, not just classifications. Additionally, we welcome the University’s announcement of allowing for the inclusion of “explanatory statements” for submissions affected by access to resources, which will be utilised during the marking phase. We will lobby to ensure that this is implemented as broadly as possible, not just as a mitigation for coursework submissions, but also for exams. We believe exams are similarly affected by the ongoing difficulties of resource access for students. “
They are to be involved in a number of key meetings in the next few weeks, and a more detailed statement from the university on exam provisions is expected in mid-Hilary. In the meantime the SU have said that “We believe there are more policies which can be implemented on a course-by-course basis, so we encourage you to get in touch with SU representatives and staff if you are lobbying your department on fair outcomes for your course.“ More information about their lobbying campaign, Fair Outcomes for Students, can be found here.
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