Arrangements Relating to the Marking and Assessment Boycott
1.1 - This paper sets out a number of key principles, and adjustments to regulations, policy and practice, concerning student assessment, progression and award, and to the operation of Boards of Examiners for which the approval of Senate has been granted.
1.2 - The paper seeks to address a number of potential impediments to the ability of Boards of Examiners to make informed decisions on student progression and award arising from the UCU marking and assessment boycott (MAB). It is expected that the majority of boards of examiners will be able to operate as prescribed by the university’s regulations, and will be in a position to make decisions on the majority of student profiles on the basis of complete assessment information.
1.3 - The revisions recognise the fundamental importance of maintaining the academic integrity of Queen Margaret University degree awards, while addressing the exceptional circumstances presented by the boycott of marking and assessment in place from 20 April 2023. Such recognition is in the interests of students achieving Queen Margaret University awards, and in the interests of prospective employers, including those requiring professional registration.
1.4 - The provisions set out in this document are interim in status, and will expire on 30 September 2023. The provisions will be subject to review by that date, whereupon a decision will be taken by the University Senate on whether the provisions are subject to extension by an agreed period.
2 PRINCIPLES UNDERPINNING DECISIONS ON ASSESSMENT
2.1 - In responding and adapting to the circumstances presented to assessment and award by the marking and assessment boycott, the University Senate has approved for adoption a number of key principles:
- No student will be disadvantaged in terms of their assessed outcomes as a result of any disruption to the assessment of their performance.
- Students’ achievement of threshold learning outcomes will be protected.
- The flexibility provided by the University’s existing published regulations, including those set out in the regulations governing assessment and the operation of Boards of Examiners, will be invoked wherever possible.
- Where necessary flexibility is not provided, boards of examiners will operate under these interim regulations and supporting guidance, as approved by the University Senate.
- Priority will be given to the assessed outcomes of students on the final year of a programme, so as to ensure that award decisions are not delayed unduly.
2.2 - In line with the requirements of the published regulations for Boards of Examiners (Regulation 1.7), a record will be kept of all actions taken, and any mitigations and adjustments agreed by Boards of Examiners.
2.3 - Arrangements for Doctoral candidates will be addressed separately to the provisions.
3 REVISION TO TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT ARRANGEMENTS
3.1 - All possible steps will be taken by the University to protect student progression, achievement and completion, subject always to the achievement of the necessary learning outcomes for the programme.
3.2 - Under regulation 5.6.1 of the General Assessment Regulations, all elements of assessments for Honours projects and postgraduate dissertations (or equivalent) at SCQF levels 9, 10, 11 and 12 must be blind double-marked for the whole cohort. Under these interim regulations, this provision may be waived where available summative assessments have been moderated on a sampling basis by either an internal or an external examiner.
3.3 - Under regulation 5.6.2 of the General Assessment Regulations, all summative assessments for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are not blind double-marked must be internally moderated on a sampling basis. Under these interim regulations, this provision may be waived where available summative assessments have been moderated on a sampling basis by an external examiner.
3.4 - Under regulation 2.6 of the published regulations governing Boards of Examiners, all student work contributing to the student’s final award or degree classification must ‘normally’ be moderated by the relevant External Examiner(s) prior to the meeting of the Board of Examiners. Under these interim regulations, the latitude provided by the use of ‘normally’ in the regulation will be invoked, and this provision may be waived where available summative assessments have been moderated on a sampling basis by an internal examiner.
4 PUBLISHED REGULATIONS GOVERNING BOARDS OF EXAMINERS
4.1 - In applying the principles set out in Section 2 above, Boards of Examiners will exercise the latitude currently provided to them under the published Boards of Examiners Regulations. This is described further below.
4.2 - The Boards of Examiners Regulations identify Boards of Examiners as being responsible to the Senate for: the assessment of each student on each module assessed; an overall assessment of each student's performance, and a decision on their progression at each intermediate stage of the programme; and a decision on the award to be granted to each student on completion of, or decision to exit from, the programme.
4.3 - Under the Regulations, Boards of Examiners are currently required to take account of ‘all certificated or verified evidence submitted on behalf of students’ in their deliberations on individual performance. Specifically, Regulation 5.1 confirms that the focus of the Board of Examiners ‘will be on students (as individuals and as a cohort), the module and the programme’, and that, in making decisions on assessment and progression, the Board of Examiners should consider a number of factors.
4.4 - The key principles set out in Section 2 above, are codified within the published Boards of Examiners Regulations; this will provide all boards with the necessary scope to apply those principles; and will provide students, staff and Senate with the reassurance that boards will not need to step far outside their current obligations and practice.
4.5 - Under these interim regulations, published provisions for Boards of Examiner quoracy may be waived. As a minimum, the Board will comprise the following post-holders, or their designated nominee in the case of absence: Dean or Head of Division as Convener, relevant Programme Leaders, at least one External Examiner, and the Secretary. In varying these provisions, the explicit agreement of the University Secretary has been provided (regulation 5.6 refers).
5 ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS
Assessment in the absence of complete assessment information
5.1 - On the basis of the best information available concerning semester 2 assessment arrangements, it is expected that the majority of undergraduate and postgraduate students will complete the majority of assessed components necessary for progression or award under the University’s General Assessment regulations.
5.2 - Where this is not the case, on the grounds of the marking and assessment boycott, the University’s General Assessment Regulations currently provide for decisions on award in the absence of complete assessment information.
5.3 - Specifically, Regulation 11.1 provides that:
‘Boards of Examiners have discretion to make an award in the absence of complete assessment information where it is established to the satisfaction of the Board of Examiners that:
- there is enough evidence of the student's achievement at the level at which they are being examined, which would normally equate to two thirds of the assessable work at that level, or evidence is subsequently obtained.
5.4 - Valid documented cause for incomplete assessment information is interpreted in these interim regulations as the University not being in receipt of complete information on assessment due to the marking and assessment boycott.
5.5 - The regulation above would, under the published regulations, apply to award decisions for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in their final year of study.
5.6 - Under the marking and assessment boycott, it is recognised that there is potential for situations where full assessment information is not available, due to valid documented cause, for students not in their final year of study.
5.7 - Under these Interim Regulations, Boards of Examiners are empowered to exercise equivalent discretion, in the absence of full assessment information, to progression decisions. Such extension provides Boards with the flexibility to approve the progression of full-time UG and PG students to the next academic level, with up to 40 credits outstanding.
5.8 - For all programmes subject to accreditation by Professional and Statutory bodies, the application of flexibility of progression regulations will be made in the context of any other guidance provided to the relevant Board of Examiners by those professional bodies.
5.9 - The basis for any decisions made under the provisions set out above must be applied equally, and recorded in the minutes of the Board.
Review of Award Decisions on receipt of complete assessment information
5.10 - Award recommendations agreed by Boards of Examiners on the basis of incomplete assessment information, as provided by these regulations, will be revisited upon receipt of complete assessment information.
5.11 - Under these provisions, awards made by Boards of Examiners may be confirmed or improved, but may not be downgraded or rescinded.
22 May 2023
PERIOD OF APPLICATION: TO 30 SEPTEMBER 2023
REVIEW DATE: BY 30 SEPTEMBER 2023
Queen Margaret University
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