Teaching

Guidance on the Management of Concessions

Introduction and Key Points

1. The University allows Boards of Examiners to award credit and make adjustments to module marks where student performance has been adversely impacted by medical or other documented concessionary circumstances over and above the normal difficulties experienced in life. The purpose of taking these steps under such circumstances is to arrive at an outcome that properly represents the student’s achievement for the affected module(s) or for the stage or programme. This document sets out the measures that might be used by Boards for this purpose, along with the principles that underlie them and the limitations of their use. A few key points are worth noting at the outset:

Observing the Limits Set for Awarding Credit via Mark Adjustments

1.1 At its meeting in March 2016 Learning and Teaching Board (LTB) considered the practice operated by some Schools of recording the volume of credit awarded by adjusting marks in terms of the percentage contribution of affected assessments to the overall mark for the module (e.g. where Schools have assumed that, if an assessment contributes 20% towards the module mark for a 30 credit module, then only 6 credits have been awarded by this means). LTB determined that this interpretation was inconsistent with its intentions. Please note that where modules have been failed, the proportion of the credit for the stage adjusted by these means should be calculated in terms of the total credit volume of the module(s) concerned. The credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module.

1.2 A data collection exercise on the proportion of credit awarded for concessionary reasons and compensation will be undertaken via the spreadsheet provided by the Faculties Support Office (FSO). This exercise is designed to record the volume of ‘discounted credit’ in the system, i.e. where the intervention has resulted in the award of credit, or to put it another way, has resulted in transforming a fail for the module into a pass. Everyone will be aware that limits apply as to how much credit might be awarded for concessionary reasons and/or compensation. It is important to note, however, that under the existing rules the limit for the volume of credit that can be awarded by mark adjustment (i.e. where without intervention the module(s) had been failed) applies with respect to assessments that contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) in question. At present no such limit applies to assessments than contribute less than 20% to the overall module mark. Similarly, no limit applies where, prior to the intervention, the module(s) in question had been passed.

1.3 To reiterate, the implications of the distinction between assessments that contribute either less than 20% or 20% or more towards the overall mark for the module are as follows:

Where, without the intervention, the module(s) had been failed:

(i) Assessments that contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) count towards the limit set for such interventions of up to 25% of the credit available for the stage;

(ii) Assessments that contribute less than 20% of the overall mark for the module(s) do not count towards the limit set for such interventions of up to 25% of the credit available for the stage.

Additionally, no limit on the volume of such interventions exist where, prior to the intervention, the module had already been passed.

1.4 It should be noted, however, that the data collection exercise is intended to capture all interventions that result in the award of credit (i.e. where a fail becomes a pass and so credit is awarded), regardless of the percentage contribution made to the overall mark for the module. Although assessments that contribute less than 20% do not count towards the stage limit set for such interventions, they should still be recorded in the appropriate column in the data collection spreadsheet.

1.5 The data collection exercise is not concerned with recording interventions that do not result in the award of credit (i.e. where the module(s) had been passed prior to the intervention).

Use of the Borderline for Concessionary Reasons under the Pre-2011/12 UG Conventions and for PGT Students

1.6 This summer, UG degree finalists should be classified under the revised conventions introduced in 2011/12, with the exception of any students who were admitted prior to 2011/12, such as relevant part-time students or returning intermitters. Any UG students who are entitled to be classified under the pre-2011/12 regulations on the basis of their initial year of registration may still be considered for raising where their overall profile of credits and marks falls at the borderline to a higher classification band, including for concessionary reasons (as per Convention 16.1.7 of the Conventions for Classification Guidance document, or see Clause 2.4.2 of this document). All PGT students with a suitable borderline credit and marks profile should also be considered on this basis in 2016/17.

Measures

2. The two principal measures that might be applied under concessionary circumstances by Boards of Examiners in order to arrive at a module mark or the outcome for a stage or programme that properly reflects the level of student achievement are (i) condonement and (ii) mark adjustment. A third measure, commonly referred to as the ‘Notwithstanding Rule’, which allows Boards to make awards where it had not been possible for a student to complete a programme, has a more limited application in that it might only be used with respect to a finalist adjudged to have suffered the most severe impairment to his/her performance as a result of concessionary circumstances and who might otherwise not receive an award without this intervention.

2.1 Condonement. This is the mechanism by which, under documented concessionary circumstances, Boards of Examiners can award credit for failed modules. Where a student has failed no more than 25% of the credit required for a stage and has elsewhere demonstrated the achievement of the programme learning outcomes, Boards of Examiners can condone such failure and award the credit for the affected modules. In practice, this means that the marks awarded for condoned modules are omitted from the calculation of the overall stage average mark and the final weighted average mark used for classification purposes. The actual marks achieved, however, remain a matter of record and appear on the student’s transcript, along with an indication that the credits for such modules have been awarded via condonement.

2.2 Mark Adjustment. The University allows Board of Examiners, under documented concessionary circumstances, to adjust the overall mark awarded for a module in order to arrive at a result that properly reflects the student’s level of achievement on the module as a whole. Mark adjustment takes two forms: (i) the exclusion of one or more affected pieces of assessment from the calculation of the overall module mark (commonly referred to as ‘disregarding marks’); and (ii) the substitution of a mark awarded for the piece or pieces of as affected by illness or other mitigating circumstances by the mark awarded for another piece of assessment taken as part of the same module.

2.2.1 Unlike condonement, which can only be used where a module has been failed, the adjustment of the overall mark for a module may take place both in cases of module failure and where students have passed the modules in question, in order to arrive at a final mark that properly reflects the student’s level of achievement on the module as a whole. It must be noted, however, the proportion of failed credit that may be adjusted and retrieved via this measure is limited to a maximum allowance of 25% of the credit for the stage (where made with respect to assessments that contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s)).

2.2.2 No limits on such adjustments apply, however, where:

(i) modules have been passed without recourse to this intervention; and/or

(ii) the individual assessment in question contributes less than 20% towards the calculation of the overall mark for the module.

2.2.3 Please note that LTB has determined that, where modules have been failed, the proportion of the credit for the stage adjusted by these means should be calculated in terms of the total credit volume of the module(s) concerned. The credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module.

2.2.4 Of the two methods for adjusting overall module marks, mark substitution, which in practice typically involves substituting either the overall mark for coursework for the examination mark or vice versa, is potentially by far the more generous measure and should be reserved for use in cases assessed as having a very significant adverse effect on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s), i.e. it should be reserved for concessionary circumstances assessed as impacting at Grade 3 or higher.

2.2.5 The purpose of making such adjustments is to arrive at a final mark for the affected module or modules that properly represents the student’s level of achievement and therefore constitutes a fair mark. Needless to say, students may only pass a module where they have demonstrated the achievement of the module learning outcomes required for a pass. Module mark adjustments should not result in a final mark at or above the pass mark and the award of credit where this is not the case.

2.2.6 As noted at 2.1 above, condonement can only be used where the student has failed no more than 25% of the credit required for the stage. This does not mean, however, that condonement cannot operate in tandem with mark adjustment. Where, within the limits prescribed for its use, mark adjustment is deployed and a fair mark at or above the pass mark is thus achieved for one or more modules, condonement may still be used where the proportion of remaining failed credit amounts to 25% or less of the credit required for the stage. Where the proportion of remaining failed credit (i.e. post-mark adjustments) is greater than 25% of the credit required for the stage, condonement may not be used and deferral is recommended.

2.3 Other Options. While condonement and module mark adjustment are measures that can be used to arrive at a fair outcome resulting in the award of credit for a module or modules and should be applied in view of the full set of module marks awarded for the stage as a whole, other minor concessionary-based decisions, such as overriding late submission penalties, granting time-limited extensions or offering equivalent assessments (e.g. rescheduling a missed in-class test), might come into play throughout the academic year, typically in response to circumstances assessed as having a more limited adverse effect on the student’s performance.

2.3.1 One further option, deferral, which involves taking the decision on concessionary grounds to allow a student to retake some or all of the assessment for a failed module or modules as if for the first time (i.e. without penalty), is a measure available to Boards of Examiners where it seems the most appropriate course of action. In cases where the student has failed half or more of the credit required to progress to the next stage of study, it is advisable for the Board of Examiners to recommend that the student be required to repeat these modules in attendance during the following academic year rather than undertake further assessment during the long vacation. Such decisions should be taken at the end-stage meeting of Boards of Examiners.

2.3.2 Guidance on use of the ‘Notwithstanding Rule’ to classify students whose performance has been impacted by the most extreme concessionary circumstances follows further below at 4.2.8.

2.4 It is important to note that ‘Compensation’ is not a concessionary measure. ‘Compensation’ is a mechanism for awarding credit to compensate for the close failure of a limited proportion of the credit required to pass a stage of a programme, where students have achieved the programme learning outcomes and have an overall average mark for the stage that is at or above the pass mark. Boards, therefore, do not require the submission of a concessionary application in order to apply compensation.

2.4.1 While ‘Compensation’ is not in itself concessionary, however, it does impact on the use of condonement by Boards of Examiners:

(i) the concurrent use of compensation and condonement is limited to a maximum cumulative total of 25% of the credit available for any stage;

(ii) compensation and condonement may only be applied with respect to students who fail modules amounting to 25% or less of the credit available for the stage.

Therefore, while compensation is not a concessionary measure, its use by Boards must take into account any decisions taken to award credit on concessionary grounds via condonement – and vice versa.

2.4.2 Candidates with a Profile of Credits and Marks Falling at the Borderline

With respect to UG students who commenced stage 1 of a UG programme of study prior to 2011/12 or students registered for a programme leading to a PGT award, Boards of Examiners may recommend the award of a higher classification than that indicated by the marks obtained provided that the student would have qualified for a higher classification if he/she had obtained two more marks for each module and provided that the Board of Examiners is satisfied that there is substantial evidence that the marks obtained do not fully reflect the candidate’s overall achievement. Such evidence should normally take one or more of the forms stated below. The marks obtained should not be changed.

  • Documented evidence of very significant medical or personal problems or of unexpected hardship.
  • Evidence obtained from a viva voce examination.
  • The views of an external examiner on the quality of work of the candidate.
  • Significant improvement in final stage performance. (Note: This factor should not be taken into account where final stage marks are weighted more heavily than marks obtained in earlier stages.)
  • Performance in one module substantially below that on other modules.
  • Evidence of achievement commensurate with the higher classification. Such evidence might include a significant number of answers to individual questions which are of appropriate quality or, in appropriate subjects, evidence of problem solving ability. (Note: this factor should not be taken into account where the preponderance method is used in classification.)

Credit may not be awarded through this means.

Following regulatory changes, this clause cannot be applied with respect to students who entered Stage 1 of a UG programme of study in 2011/12 or thereafter. Therefore, this clause may not be applied in 2016/17 with respect to the classification of candidates for the award of a Foundation Degree, UG Diploma or Honours degree who first registered for the programme in 2011/12 or thereafter1.


Underlying Principles

3. The key concessionary measures of condonement and mark adjustment are enshrined in the University’s Credit Framework, which sets out the rules and procedures for the award of credit, student progression and the classification of awards. This present document and the related (annually updated) document offering guidance to examiners on other matters, exists only as a supplement to that definitive regulatory statement of the University’s conventions in this area. From the Credit Framework’s statements on the use of concessionary measures, it is possible to deduce some underlying principles for their operation and management:

3.1 Fairness. The primary function of concessionary measures is to assist the Board of Examiners in arriving at a fair result for students affected by illness or other mitigating circumstances which may have caused exceptional interference with academic performance. To arrive at a result via concessionary adjustments that properly reflects the student’s true level of performance as a whole for a module or for a stage or for the classification of an award is to uphold and respect the principle of fairness. It expresses the University’s desire for student achievement to be properly represented and rewarded.

3.2 Consistency. Fairness, after all, suggests consistency of treatment for everyone. Fairness as a principle of operation should not be equated with generosity. As part of a recent review of the management of concessions one School reported that it felt pushed to be increasingly generous in the application of concessions and reported its concerns that there is a danger this generosity may lead to programme learning outcomes not being fully met. Such a perceived push towards generosity in these matters is not intended. Fairness is about achieving the deserved outcome and a focus on this principle in each School is the driver of consistency.

3.3 Merited. Use of the measures of condonement and module mark adjustment requires that the student has demonstrated the necessary learning outcomes. Adjustments are made only with respect to “objective criteria” (Credit Framework Annex 6, section 25). Adjusted marks and the award of credit must properly represent the student's achievement. Concessionary outcomes must be merited and evidenced.

3.4 Limited. Condonement may be applied within the limit set by the Credit Framework (without such a limit, how might a student truly be said to have met the programme learning outcomes?). Module mark adjustment, where without such an intervention a student might otherwise have failed a module, may be used within the limit prescribed for the assessed severity of the concessionary circumstances (although no such limit applies where the individual assessment makes a minor contribution to the overall mark for the module [less than 20%], nor where the student had passed the module prior to the intervention). In Kent’s QAA Higher Education Review in 2015 the QAA took the view that Kent’s conventions in this area allowed for a ‘significant proportion of discounted credit’ and recommended that the University should find a way to monitor this at the institutional level. The initial data-gathering exercise conducted by the FSO at the Summer 2015 meetings of Boards of Examiners attempted to gain such an overview for the first time. The evidence suggested that in some areas the limits set for mark adjustments made with respect to failed modules were not observed. See clause 4.2.5 for further guidance on how to interpret the limits set for the use of particular concessionary measures.

3.5 Proportionate. The University’s conventions allow for a graded assessment of the severity of the impact on student performance of concessionary circumstances and about its scope - whether the circumstances might allow for a general concession, or if it might have application only to specific assignments or modules. A sliding scale in table format has been provided in the conventions for the purpose of assisting Boards in reaching proportionate outcomes in response to both the assessed severity of the impact of the circumstances suffered and the need to maintain academic standards.

3.6 Transparent. As noted above at 3.3, adjustments to marks should only be made with respect to objective criteria. Similarly, all concessionary measures should only be applied in response to documentary evidence submitted by the student in tandem with the appropriate pro forma (see Credit Framework Annex 9, section 2.2.2). The process should be sufficiently transparent so as to allow for the concessionary decision for any student to be seen as evidenced-based with regard both to the circumstances presented in mitigation and to the satisfaction of academic standards in terms of the achievement of module and/or programme learning outcomes.

3.7 Confidential. The consideration of concessionary matters should be a confidential process. The Credit Framework requires that the consideration of such matters and the associated evidence should take place in camera before a standing School Concessionary Committee which should normally consist of no more than three internal members of the full Board of Examiners and should include the Chief Examiner as a key contributor. It is the University’s policy that External Examiners should not participate in the meetings of this committee. Schools, however, may find value in staging a meeting with External Examiners prior to the meeting of the main Board in order to explain the operation of Kent’s processes in managing concessions, the types of decision that can be made and the general rationale for making them with respect to the differently graded assessments of the impact of concessionary circumstances.

3.8 Appropriately Timed. The requirement for ensuring that adjustments made on concessionary grounds must (a) be merited and (b) be applied within the limits set for making such adjustments holds implications for the timing as to when they may be made. Mark adjustments at the module level must be made in full knowledge of (i) whether the intervention allows for a fail to be turned into a pass; and (ii) whether concessionary measures will be applied to other modules in the stage (i.e. and so ensure that the limits set for making such interventions are not exceeded). These requirements dictate that decisions on the application of concessionary measures should be made when all the module marks awarded for the stage are available.

Assessment of Concessions

4. Concessionary Committees. As referenced above at 3.7, before each meeting of a Board of Examiners, the Chief Examiner convenes a meeting of a small number of internal members of the Board of Examiners (i.e. normally no more than three members, to include the Chief Examiner, the Senior Tutor, a third member and, typically, with the Student Support Officer in attendance) to assess the severity of the impact on student performance of documented concessionary circumstances. Based on these assessments, the Committee agrees recommendations to be made to the Board about what actions might be appropriate in order to arrive at a fair outcome that reflects the student’s overall level of performance - an outcome that is evidence-based, merited, proportionate to the severity of the impact of the circumstances suffered and is permissible within the prescribed limits for action and for ensuring the achievement of academic standards.

4.1 Sliding Scale of Possible Actions. A key tool for Concessionary Committees in considering concessionary applications in line with the underlying principles for doing so is the sliding scale of possible actions that might be made in response to its graded assessment of the degree of impact on student performance of the concessionary circumstances in question. The scale is presented in table format. It provides a gradated set of broad criteria for judging the impact of concessionary circumstances on student performance and so allows the Committee to allocate a grade to the submission on a scale from 0 – 4, with 0 indicating the least severe degree of impact, and 4 the most severe. The right hand column indicates the range of actions that might be taken in response to concessionary applications assessed at each corresponding level. It outlines the scope and limit of possible actions at each level and allows for a proportionate and fair response to be taken in line with the need to ensure the achievement of academic standards by the affected students.

4.2 It might be useful to consider each level of assessment in turn:

Grade Severity of Impact Actions Might Include
0

The evidence submitted does not indicate that the concessionary circumstances had any adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s);

OR the circumstances described have already been sufficiently mitigated through the granting of a concession;

OR the alleged circumstances were experienced in a timeframe not relevant to the assessment(s) in question.

Discount concessionary submission. Note at the BoE, however, that it has been considered and discounted.

4.2.1 A concession assessed at Grade 0 essentially acknowledges that no action (or no further action, in some cases) is required and that the submission has been discounted. It is important to record at the meeting of the Board of Examiners that the matter has been considered, however, as failure by the Board to consider properly any evidence relating to illness or other misfortune submitted under concessions procedures can become a matter of appeal.

Grade Severity of Impact Actions Might Include
1


The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are likely to have had limited adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).


Override late submission penalties; grant time-limited extension; offer equivalent assessment, where appropriate (e.g. reschedule missed in-class test);

AND/OR
Disregard affected assessments or c/w requirement for the affected module or modules, where these contribute less than 20% of the mark for the module(s) in question. Such adjusted marks should properly represent the student’s achievement on the module as a whole.

4.2.2 Where the concessionary circumstances are assessed as having a limited adverse impact on student performance (Grade 1), the range of suggested corrective actions include making such logistical adjustments that would allow the student to complete the assessments for a module or modules without penalty (e.g. allowing extensions for submission, rescheduling assessments, etc.), as well as possibly disregarding a coursework requirement or the marks for affected assessment(s) where these make a minor contribution to the overall mark for the module (i.e. less than 20%). No limit on the volume of making such minor mark adjustments for a Grade 1 concession is proposed, but the mark arrived at by doing so must properly represent the student(s) achievement on the module as a whole.

4.2.3 Failure of a module should not be condoned on the basis of a Grade 1 concession as the outcome (the award of credit for the module) is considered to be disproportionate to the assessed impact of the concessionary circumstances on student performance.

Grade Severity of Impact Actions Might Include
2

The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are likely to have had a significant adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).

Any actions available for a Grade 1 concession; and

Disregard individual assessments for the affected module or modules, including where these contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) in question, provided that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module(s) as a whole.

Nb.
(a) Where the modules in question have been failed, the disregard measure may only be used with respect to a maximum of 25% of the credit available for the stage;

(b) Where the modules in question have been passed, this measure may be used without restriction.

Nb. Where adjustments to module marks made via these means result in the award of credit for the module (i.e. the intervention turns an overall fail for the module into a pass for the module), they should be recorded by the Board of Examiners as resulting in the award of the full volume of credit available for the module in question (i.e. 15 or 30 credits; the credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module). The limits set out at (a) above for use of such interventions must be observed.

AND*/OR

*Within limits, see 4.2.5.

Where student has failed up to a maximum of 25% of the credit for the stage, consider condoning;
OR
Consider recommending deferral as per clause 2.3.1 of this guidance document;


4.2.4 Grade 2 concessionary circumstances are deemed to have had a significantly adverse impact on student performance. Correspondingly, the measures that might be implemented in response to these allow for a greater degree of intervention. Whereas for a Grade 1 concession Boards might disregard only assessments that make a minor contribution to the overall module mark, for a concession assessed at Grade 2 the Board of Examiners might consider disregarding assessments that make a more significant contribution to the final mark (i.e. where the assessment in question contributes 20% or more). The more generous form of mark adjustment (i.e. the substitution of the overall coursework mark for the examination mark, or vice versa) is not considered appropriate for a Grade 2 concession.

4.2.5 Limits apply, however, where without making this intervention the module would otherwise have been failed. When made with respect to assessments that make a significant contribution to the overall mark for a module (i.e. 20% or more), only 25% of the credit available for the stage might be adjusted in this way. Such adjustments must be recorded by the Board of Examiners as resulting in the full credit value of the module, not as a fraction of that credit value. For example, if an assessment worth 20% of a 30 credit module is disregarded, then the adjusted credit should be recorded as 30, not 6.

4.2.5.1 This upper limit on the disregarding of assessments that make a significant contribution to the overall mark for a module (i.e. 20% or more) and the interpretation of how it should be calculated correctly in terms of the full credit volume of modules also applies for concessions assessed at Grade 3 and Grade 4. (Such measures would be inappropriate for concessions assessed at either Grade 0 or Grade 1.)

4.2.5.2 A record should also be kept of minor adjustments to modules (i.e. the disregarding of assessments which contribute less than 20% to the overall mark for the module) where the adjustment has result in the award of credit (i.e. as a result of a minor [<20%] disregard a fail for the module is turned into a pass for the module). Currently adjustments made by this means with respect assessments which contribute less than 20% to the overall mark for the module should not be regarded as factoring into the calculation of the limit set of 25% of the credit for the stage.

4.2.6 Where modules had already been passed prior to any intervention, a Grade 2 concession allows adjustments via the disregarding of marks to take place without restriction (as relevant to the concessionary circumstances), as the achievement of threshold academic standards by the student is confirmed. All module mark adjustments require that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module(s) as a whole.

4.2.7 Where, after any mark adjustments have been applied, a student has failed 25% or less of the credit available for the stage, such failure might be condoned at the discretion of the Board of Examiners.

4.2.8 Deferral is recommended where students have failed 50% or more of the credit for the stage. Please note that Boards of Examiners may only defer a student with respect to modules that have been failed.

Grade Severity of Impact Actions Might Include
3


The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are serious and are likely to have had a very significant adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).

Any actions available for a Grade 1 concession; and

Disregard individual assessments for the affected module or modules, including where these contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) in question; and/or

Substitute c/w for exam mark or vice versa, or, where the assessment pattern does not include an examination, c/w mark for c/w mark, provided that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module as a whole.

Nb.

(a) Where the modules in question have been failed, the disregard and/or substitute measures may only be used cumulatively with respect to a maximum of 25% of the credit available for the stage;

(b) Where the modules in question have been passed, these measures may be used without restriction.

Nb. Where adjustments to module marks made via these means result in the award of credit for the module (i.e. the intervention turns an overall fail for the module into a pass for the module), they should be recorded by the Board of Examiners as resulting in the award of the full volume of credit available for the module in question (i.e. 15 or 30 credits; the credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module). The limits set out at (a) above for use of such interventions must be observed.

AND*/OR

*Within limits, see 4.2.5.

Where student has failed up to a maximum of 25% of the credit for the stage, consider condoning;

OR

Consider recommending deferral as per clause 2.3.1 of this guidance document.

OR, where applicable:

Re. the classification of UG students under the pre-2011/12 conventions and students on PGT programmes, where candidates have the relevant borderline profile of marks, consider recommending use of the examiners’ discretion for raising candidates under the ‘Two More Marks’ convention (i.e. clause 2.4.2 of this guidance document).

4.2.9 Grade 3 concessionary circumstances are considered to have a very significant adverse impact on student performance. Accordingly, while all the measures open to be used for a concession assessed at Grade 2 may be applied in this case also, the further option of making use of the more generous form of mark adjustment (i.e. the substitution of the coursework mark for the examination mark, or vice versa) is now allowable. The same limits on use of mark adjustment and condonement apply, however. All adjustments made on concessionary grounds require that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module(s) as a whole. The results achieved via these means should be fair, merited, proportionate and evidenced in terms of the achievement of standards.

4.2.10 Undergraduate students who first registered on their programme of study prior to 2011/12 and PGT students may still be considered for raising to a higher class band for concessionary reasons where their profile of credits and marks places their performance at the borderline to the higher class band, as per Convention 16.1.7 of the Conventions for Classification (or see Clause 2.4.2 of this document).

Grade Severity of Impact Actions Might Include
4

The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are likely to have had a severely adverse effect on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s), so as to prevent the achievement of the full volume of credit required for the award.

Any actions available for concessions graded 1-3;
OR

Consider recommending deferral as per clause
2.3.1 of this guidance document;

AND/OR, where applicable:

Where a finalist has achieved seven-eighths of the credit required for the award (including credits awarded via condonement and/or compensation), consider use of the “notwithstanding” convention (see the glossary of measures attached to this guidance document).

4.2.11 Concessions assessed at Grade 4 are considered to be the extreme in the severely negative impact that they have had on student performance and, with the exception of offered the affected student a deferral opportunity, beyond the scope of retrieval afforded by the measures applicable at Grade 1 – 3. Additionally, a Board of Examiners might elect to use the ‘Notwithstanding’ convention, which allows a student to be classified for an academic award provided that s/he has nonetheless achieved at least seven-eighths of the credit normally required for the award in question. Use of the ‘Notwithstanding’ convention is not appropriate in anything other than this specific context.

Miscellaneous Notes

5

5.1 A written record must be kept of all decisions reached at the meeting of the Concessionary Committee, the rationales for the decisions, and of the concessionary evidence considered.

5.2 Along with a graded assessment of the severity of the impact of concessionary circumstances, the Concessionary Committee should provide information to the Board of Examiners as to whether the recommendation is for a general concession, or if it might have application only to specific assignments or modules.

5.3 A template in Excel for reporting the decisions of Boards of Examiners with respect to the application of concessionary measures and compensation will be provided.

5.4 ‘Owning’ Schools

5.4.1 Where a student submits a concessionary case relating to a minor or short-term problem incurred during the delivery of a specific module, which might include, for example, concessions submitted for in support of an extension to a coursework deadline, or to a failure to submit coursework by a deadline or a failure to attend classes, the concessionary case in question should be considered by the ‘module-owning’ school.

5.4.2 Where a student submits a concessionary case in support of a long-term problem with academic performance, which may have impacted on one or more modules, or where there has been a failure to attend an examination or the student has suffered an impaired exam performance due to concessionary factors, the concessionary case should be considered by the Concessionary Committee of the Board of Examiners for the programme in question. Concessionary cases of this nature submitted by students registered on joint honours programmes should be considered by the Concessionary Committee of the Board of Examiners of the lead School for the programme in consultation with the joint School where appropriate.


5.5 The Board of Examiners should normally follow the recommendations of the Concessionary Committee, which has assessed the concessionary evidence in advance on its behalf.

5.6 The recommendations of the Concessionary Committee as to the severity of impact of concessionary circumstances on a student’s performance may not be altered during the course of the meeting of the Board of Examiners.

Year/Term Abroad Marks

5.7 One of the measures introduced as part of the revised 2011/12 conventions for classification was the decision to treat placement marks, where awarded by the placement provider, as pass/fail and zero-weight them for the purposes of classification. The requirements for a ‘pass’ for the year/term abroad should be defined in the relevant programme specification. Any retrieval arrangements should also be as set out in the specification.

Where a student has submitted evidence related to concessionary circumstances that may have affected his/her performance during the year abroad, care should be taken to establish the following:

(i) where condoning failure, that the limits for the volume of credit per stage that might be condoned are observed and that there is evidence to suggest that the student has achieved the relevant programme level learning outcomes;

(ii) where adjusting marks awarded on modules, that the learning outcomes for the module(s) have been achieved and that any adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module(s) as a whole.

(iii) where compensating failure for a near-fail (i.e. within 10% points of the pass mark), that the limits for the volume of credit per stage that might be compensated are observed and that there is evidence to suggest that the student has achieved the relevant programme level learning outcomes.

5.8 Consideration of Concessions Applications Regarding Non-attendance of Examination or Non-submission of Coursework

5.8.1 Where a student's concessionary submission indicates that s/he will be unable to attend an examination, the Concessionary Committee is authorised, as it sees appropriate, to grant permission in advance for the absence and report this to the meeting of the Board of Examiners.

5.8.2 Where a student's concessionary submission indicates that s/he will be unable to submit an item or items of coursework by the published deadline, the Concessionary Committee is authorised, as it sees appropriate, to set a new deadline or deadlines for the submission of the coursework concerned. Where the item of coursework in question constitutes the final piece of coursework for the module, such matters should normally be considered prior to the published deadline for that item. Where the new deadline for the submission of coursework is set beyond the date of the summer term meeting of the Board of Examiners, it should be made clear to the affected students that this will prevent a decision being made on their progression or classification until the meeting of the re-sit Board of Examiners.

Appendix 1: Sliding Scale of Concessionary Measure in Full

Grade Severity of Impact Action Might Include
0
The evidence submitted does not indicate that the concessionary circumstances had any adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s); OR the circumstances described have already been sufficiently mitigated through the granting of a concession; OR the alleged circumstances were experienced in a timeframe not relevant to the assessment(s) in question.
Discount concessionary submission. Note at the BoE, however, that it has been considered and discounted.
1
The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are likely to have had limited adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).
Override late submission penalties; grant time-limited extension; offer equivalent assessment, where appropriate (e.g. reschedule missed in-class test);

AND/OR

Disregard affected assessments or c/w requirement for the affected module or modules, where these contribute less than 20% of the mark for the module(s) in question. Such adjusted marks should properly represent the student’s achievement on the module as a whole.
2
The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are likely to have had a significant adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).
Any actions available for a Grade 1 concession; and

Disregard individual assessments for the affected module or modules, including where these contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) in question, provided that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module(s) as a whole.

Nb.

(a) Where the modules in question have been failed, the disregard measure may only be used with respect to a maximum of 25% of the credit available for the stage;

(b) Where the modules in question have been passed, this measure may be used without restriction.

Nb. Where adjustments to module marks made via these means result in the award of credit for the module (i.e. the intervention turns an overall fail for the module into a pass for the module), they should be recorded by the Board of Examiners as resulting in the award of the full volume of credit available for the module in question (i.e. 15 or 30 credits; the credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module). The limits set out at (a) above for use of such interventions must be observed.

AND*/OR
*Within limits, see 4.2.5

Where student has failed up to a maximum of 25% of the credit for the stage, consider condoning;
OR

Consider recommending deferral as per clause 2.3.1 of this guidance document;
3
The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are serious and are likely to have had a very significant adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s).
Any actions available for a Grade 1 concession; and

Disregard individual assessments for the affected module or modules, including where these contribute 20% or more to the overall mark for the module(s) in question; and/or

Substitute c/w for exam mark or vice versa, or, where the assessment pattern does not include an examination, c/w mark for c/w mark, provided that (i) the learning outcomes for the module(s) are achieved; and (ii) such adjusted marks properly represent the student’s achievement on the module as a whole.

Nb.

(a) Where the modules in question have been failed, the disregard and/or substitute measures may only be used cumulatively with respect to a maximum of 25% of the credit available for the stage;

(b) Where the modules in question have been passed, these measures may be used without restriction.

Nb. Where adjustments to module marks made via these means result in the award of credit for the module (i.e. the intervention turns an overall fail for the module into a pass for the module), they should be recorded by the Board of Examiners as resulting in the award of the full volume of credit available for the module in question (i.e. 15 or 30 credits; the credits recorded should not be fractions based on the contribution of individual assessments to the overall mark for the module). The limits set out at (a) above for use of such interventions must be observed.

AND*/OR
*Within limits, see 4.2.5.

Where student has failed up to a maximum of 25% of the credit for the stage, consider condoning;

OR

Consider recommending deferral as per clause 2.3.1 of this guidance document

OR, where applicable:

Re. the classification of UG students under the pre-2011/12 conventions and students on PGT programmes, where candidates have the relevant borderline profile of marks, consider recommending use of the examiners’ discretion for raising candidates under the ‘Two More Marks’ convention (i.e. Clause 2.4.2 of this guidance document).
4
The evidence submitted indicates that the concessionary circumstances are extreme and are likely to have had a severely adverse impact on the performance of the student in his/her assessment(s), so as to prevent the achievement of the full volume of credit required for the award.
Any actions available for concessions graded 1-3;

OR

Consider recommending deferral as per clause 2.3.1 of this guidance document;

AND/OR, where applicable:

Where a finalist has achieved seven-eighths of the credit required for the award (including credits awarded via condonement and/or compensation), consider use of the “notwithstanding” convention (see the glossary of measures attached to this guidance document).

2

____________________________________________________

2 Some explanatory notes on the above:

1. Where students have failed, the measures of disregarding marks (for a grade 2 concession) and mark substitution (for a Grade 3 concession) can be applied to 25% of the credit for the stage.

1.1 Applying these measures allows for Boards to arrive at a pass for these credits.

2. In addition to 1 and 1.1 above, students can be condoned for up to 25% of the stage.

3. Thus, where as much as 50% of the credit for the stage has been failed (i.e. before any disregarding and mark substitution adjustments come into play), there is scope for Boards to award the credit for the failed modules by applying the measures set out at 1 and 2 above.

4. Condonement cannot be applied where a student failed (post applying mark adjustments at 1) more than 25% of the credit for the stage. This principle is unchanged.

4.1. So, where a student has failed more than 50% of the credit for the stage (i.e. before any disregarding and mark substitution adjustments come into play), condonement cannot be applied, because applying the disregarding and mark substitution adjustments would leave more than 25% of the credit for the stage as failed. In such concessionary cases, the failed credit would have to be deferred.

5. In summary of 1-4 above:

(a) If a student (with an appropriately graded concession) has failed up to 50% of the credit for the stage, credit can be awarded via condonement and adjustments.
(b) If a student (with an appropriately graded concession) has failed more than 50%, the credit remaining as failed (post disregarding and mark substitution adjustments) must be deferred.

6. Where a student has a grade 2 or grade 3 concession but has passed the modules to which this applies, the marks may be adjusted for the full set of affected modules via the appropriate mechanism for doing so for a concession of that grade (in order to arrive at a mark or marks that properly represent the student’s level of achievement).

 

Appendix 2: Definitions of Concessionary Measures:

Adjustment: The adjustment, for documented concessionary reasons, of the overall mark awarded for a module in order to arrive at a result that properly reflects the student’s level of achievement on the module as a whole. Mark adjustment takes two forms:

(i) Disregarding of assessments: the exclusion of the piece or pieces of assessment affected by illness or other mitigating circumstances from the calculation of the final module mark;

(ii) Mark substitution: the substitution of a mark awarded for the piece or pieces of assessment affected by illness or other mitigating circumstances by the mark awarded for another piece of assessment taken as part of the same module.

Condonement: the award of credit for a failed module where student performance has been impacted by illness or other mitigating circumstances; where credit for a module is awarded by condonement, the mark awarded for that module should be excluded from the calculation of the classification of the award. (Nb. the marks achieved for such modules will not be adjusted to take account of the mitigating circumstances, but transcripts issued to the student will indicate modules for which credits have been awarded via condonement).

Deferral: the decision on concessionary grounds to allow a student to retake some or all of the assessment for a failed module or modules as if for the first time (see section 2.3.1 above).

The “Notwithstanding” convention: recommendations by Boards of Examiners on the classification of awards made notwithstanding the conventions of the Credit Framework where a student who, despite suffering concessionary circumstances judged as extreme and as having a severely adverse effect on his/her performance, has nonetheless achieved at least seven-eighths of the credit normally required for the award in question.

____________________________________________________

1. See Conventions for Classifications of Awards Guidance for Examiners 2016/17 Appendix 1 for further guidance on the application of relevant conventions by cohort.

 

(May 2017)
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