University of Bath

Industrial action: FAQs for students

We would like to provide you with some further information on the industrial action which took place on campus during February and March.

Will there be further disruption in the 2017/18 academic year?

The UCU industrial action has been suspended. We do not expect further disruption in the 2017/18 academic year.

What is being done to assess the effects of the disruption?

We are currently identifying:

  1. The effects of industrial action and snow closures on our units and programmes;
  2. Where subsequent actions have remedied those effects (for example, providing missed content through alternative means such as rescheduled lectures or online materials, providing additional academic and supervisory support, and/or extending coursework submission deadlines);
  3. Whether any further action may be needed to ensure you have fair and consistent learning and assessment opportunities.

We are working with Heads of academic Departments to analyse this data, so that we can:

  1. Provide specific guidance where it is needed;
  2. Ensure that we maintain a high-quality learning experience for you;
  3. Ensure the standards of our degrees are maintained.

Why are different students having different experiences?

Students in other programmes or units might have different experiences of mitigation. This is because staff are making informed judgements about what actions may be necessary to remedy the effects of disrupted activity on their unit and/or programme. These will differ depending on:

• The extent of disruption in the particular unit (or programme);

• What is necessary for you to be able to meet the learning outcomes of your unit and programme.

For example, what is possible and appropriate may be different:

• Where assessment types differ (for example, coursework instead of examinations);

• For a single Designated Essential Unit in one programme;

• Across a programme that is accredited by a professional body; or

• In a programme with many optional units and no accreditation.

The University must maintain the standards and quality of the degrees we award. We also want to maintain a high-quality learning experience, and must make sure that the assessment you undertake is appropriate and fair. These requirements apply consistently across all of our programmes.

Are Individual Mitigating Circumstances relevant to my situation?

There has been no change to the IMC regulations—normal procedures and expectations apply.

You can find guidance on IMCs through the Registry webpages and by speaking to the Students’ Union Advice & Support Centre, your Director of Studies, or your personal tutor.

If your examinations or assessment submissions are affected by valid mitigating circumstances, within three days of the affected assessment deadline or examination, you should submit an IMC claim with evidence to demonstrate the impact of the circumstances on your assessment.

In the majority of situations, Individual Mitigating Circumstances will not be an appropriate way for you to flag an assessment that you may feel has been affected by industrial action or snow closure. This is because departments have taken steps to mitigate the impact of industrial action (for example, coursework extensions, alternative provision of learning content and material, student support activities, and additional study guidance) which we expect to have resolved the effects of disruption in time to enable you to perform to the best of your ability in your assessments.

IMCs claims involving the industrial action/closures may, however, be relevant in a small number of cases. These are likely to include situations where:

• You can provide evidence that your mental or physical health were unexpectedly affected by the disruption, that this had an impact on your assessment, and that this could not be remedied before the assessment submission or examination; and/or

• Your existing special study or disability arrangements due to an existing condition were disrupted, and the University was not able to accommodate this before the assessment submission or examination.

If you feel that your well-being has been affected, please make use of the wide range of support available to you, including the Students' Union, Student Services, and your personal tutor. If you are feeling particularly anxious about forthcoming assessment deadlines or examinations, we strongly encourage you to speak to your Director of Studies as soon as possible for advice.

How will any disruption be considered when deciding results?

The information we will have about the effects of disruption on units and programmes will allow us to understand potential effects on assessments. We will make carefully informed decisions, drawing on the academic judgement of staff, as to whether these effects have been resolved, giving you a fair opportunity to meet learning outcomes and demonstrate your understanding.

In the very few places where effects on assessment remain to be resolved (which we will identify through monitoring coursework and examination results for you and your fellow students) we will deal with any remaining uncertainty by using our normal decision-making bodies: our Boards of Examiners for Units and for Programmes, and our Boards of Studies. Using our rule-based assessment regulations, our examination boards and the Board of Studies will make sure that all decisions reflect the standards achieved by our students, and that they are rigorous and fair.

At the Board of Examiners for Units, the marks for each assessment in each unit are considered carefully. Individual marks are never adjusted (except in case of error), but occasionally the marks of the entire cohort or a group of similarly affected students will be adjusted (“scaled”) up or down as appropriate where there is strong evidence to support this.

• Using scaling is an important tool, but will “be limited to circumstances where it is necessary to deal with problems—that should only occur infrequently—in the relationship between marks initially recorded and the aim to ensure ‘that the finalised marks for individual units are an accurate reflection of the standards achieved by the candidates’”.

• Scaling will be considered if there is evidence of issues with an assessment due to the effects of the industrial action that could not have been remedied in another way.

The Board of Examiners for Programmes will look carefully at the actions and recommendations of the Boards of Examiners for Units before making recommendations on individual student progression and/or award to the Board of Studies. It will consider students with valid IMCs against assessment as it normally would.

In summary, please be assured that the University will take into account the effects of any industrial action or snow closure disruption when making evidence-based decisions about your assessment achievement, and subsequent progression and/or award.

What was the strike about?

At the heart of the current dispute has been a disagreement about whether or not the USS pension scheme as it stands is sustainable and affordable for the future. Universities UK (the representative organisation for the UK’s universities) and the Pensions Regulator are of the view that the current scheme is unsustainable and therefore there is a need for significant reform.

On the other hand, the UCU is more sceptical about the level of risks long-term and seeks to defend the current pension provision for academic and senior professional services staff.

Requesting compensation for missed teaching

The University is not considering any form of reduction in fees or compensation. We are working hard to mitigate the impact of the strike on our students to try and ensure there is no reduced service to serve as grounds for compensation, and will continue to monitor the situation. Tuition fees also relate to your education as a whole, including the other services and facilities that you receive as a student, and not to individual teaching sessions.

The Regulations for Students 2017/18, item 3.8 state that neither students nor the University shall be liable for inability or delay in performing any of their obligations if caused by circumstances beyond their reasonable control. This explicitly includes industrial action.

What about coursework/assessment deadlines?

This is the decision of the department. There is already a degree of latitude in terms of extending coursework and dissertation deadlines, but only where appropriate and providing they still meet University deadlines.

What will happen to the money withheld from striking staff?

Money not paid to striking staff will be allocated for student welfare, including mental health support.

Pay for staff on strike

Staff who take strike action on an identified day of action will have had one day’s pay (1/365th of their annual salary) deducted from their pay for each day of action.

Where to get support if you are feeling stressed by the strike

You can get support both from the Students’ Union Advice and Support team and Student Services. We would also advise you to contact your personal tutor and your Director of Studies to talk about your concerns.

What academic support is available?

You can receive support with your academic writing through one-off group support sessions or personal writing tutorials.

MASH provide drop-in support with Maths and Statistics.

You can find additional information about skills development support across the institution through Skills at Bath and the Academic Skills Centre blog.

I’ve incurred extra costs as a result of the industrial action.

If you have incurred costs as a direct result of recent industrial action at the university, than you can make an application to the University of Bath Hardship Fund for financial assistance.

Examples of expenditure you may be able to receive assistance with, includes: travel costs, childcare costs, the cost of study materials, subsistence expenditure (food, drinks etc.) as well as any other reasonable costs you may have incurred as a result of industrial action.

Please note, that you will be unable to claim either compensation or tuition fee refunds via the Hardship Fund.

Finally, the Hardship Fund is a discretionary sum of money provided by the University to assist students in financial difficulty, and though we will do our best to assist no guarantee of an award can be made. You can download an application form and find further information about the University of Bath Hardship Fund through Student Services webpages.

If you have any further questions, please contact Student Money Advice.

When will results and award decisions be released?

Finalist undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will receive an email on the morning of Friday, 29 June 2018 regarding results, and will be able to access full detail in SAMIS later that day.

Continuing undergraduate students and postgraduate taught students will receive an email on the morning of Tuesday, 17 July 2018 regarding results, and will be able to access full detail in SAMIS later that day.

Decisions about Individual Mitigating Circumstance claims will be available on SAMIS on those dates.

Has the disruption been taken into account?

Yes. An understanding of what was disrupted and what was done in mitigation, in each unit, is being taken into account by the University’s examination boards as part of normal academic decision-making processes.

Where can I get help or advice?

Your Director of Studies can offer you academic advice about your specific academic circumstances. For example, you can ask your Director of Studies about:

• your results for individual assessments and units;

• the implications of your progression decision;

• supplementary / reassessment that may be required;

• your overall progress towards a degree classification; and

• academic arrangements that could be made given any individual circumstances that may have continued effects on your study, such as mental or physical health difficulties.

The University’s Wellbeing Service is available seven days a week. The Wellbeing Service offers drop-in sessions or you can get in touch by phone or email. All the services are confidential. The Advice & Support Centre at the Students’ Union offers independent advice on your academic circumstances and options, and provides a range of other support services.

Can I appeal against my results?

Normal grounds, procedures, timescales, and expectations apply. Academic appeals are described in Regulation 17.

You can find guidance on academic appeals through the Academic Registry webpages and by speaking to the Students’ Union Advice & Support Centre.

As described in these FAQs, the disruption in semester 2 is being taken into account in examination board decision-making—the general circumstances of the disruption in each unit will therefore be known to examiners. This means that if you appealed against a decision of the Board of Studies and cite the disruption as a factor in your case you would need to provide appropriate evidence of its specific effect on your individual academic performance.

See also Are Individual Mitigating Circumstances relevant to my situation?

See also Complaints and appeals