Dear Students,

Firstly, I hope you are keeping safe and well during these challenging times.

I am writing with more information on the University’s approach to assessments given the impact of Covid19. The last few weeks have been difficult and unsettling for everyone in our community. We are aware that many of you are quite naturally worried about the prospect of what will happen for the rest of the academic year, and in particular whether undertaking alternative forms of assessment will negatively affect performance in the summer.

As a university, our priority is to support you in getting the best education possible. A key part of this is giving you the opportunity to test and demonstrate your knowledge and abilities under fair and appropriate conditions. We want to make sure you are as prepared as possible for your next stage – whether it is the next year of your course, or graduation and future employment. We do not wish to simply set aside our responsibilities to help you fulfil your potential, and believe it would be unfair on many of you to simply curtail assessment at this stage. This is why we have decided to cancel all on-site exams but will be seeking to enable and support you to complete all assessments as planned.

We also recognise the need to ensure you are supported in these unusual circumstances, and to make sure we take account of the extraordinary and challenging conditions in which you will be preparing for and taking assessments.

Colleagues across the University are working hard to ensure you receive appropriate alternative learning, teaching and support and are also working hard to create assessments that will give you the best opportunity to show what you have learned and to meet the requirements of your course.

The exact nature of assessment changes for each of your units is currently being investigated by the academic staff who are responsible for teaching. Be assured that we will make them as flexible as we can to fit the discipline. We are in consultation with external examiners and professional accrediting bodies as appropriate. Your academic department will keep you informed and be available to answer your questions.

There has been some misinformation around the details of what other universities are doing. While this is a rapidly moving situation, I am confident from talking to my counterparts around the UK that our approach is consistent with that of many other universities.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and we are constantly having to adapt our approach to respond to events as they unfold and no doubt will continue to do so. For example, while we will be maintaining individual mitigating circumstances (IMCs), we are acutely aware of the challenges you face in the current extraordinary circumstances and the effect these might have on your performance and are looking into additional measures we can establish to support you.

We are grateful for your patience while we work through these necessary preparations and details and we will endeavour to communicate with you as swiftly, clearly and openly as we can on our plans. In the meantime, please focus on your studies and try not to worry.

If you are having difficulty studying, you should contact your Director of Studies and/or Personal Tutor. As a priority, if the idea of taking a remote examination or coursework assessment presents a problem for you (for example because you do not have a computer or internet access at home) please contact your Director of Studies to let them know.

I appreciate these are uncertain and potentially stressful times. Please take advantage of whatever support is available to you – from us at the University, friends and family – and take care.

Please rest assured that we will do everything we can to support you in preparing for assessment and ensuring that your performance and prior achievements will not be undermined by the difficult conditions under which you are working. We are proud of our students and will do all we can to ensure your success.

Best wishes,

Professor Peter Lambert (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching)