Manchester Metropolitan University Students' Union

Safety nets are here

Wednesday 08-04-2020 - 18:30

Safety net trapeze cartoon drawing

(warning: this is the longest article ever, but all info is useful) 

Safety Nets are here

The reason trapeze artists have safety nets, is so they can push themselves without the fear of falling. Similarly, students who’ve had their world turned upside down due to Covid-19 want to know that if they push themselves to complete alternative assessments, the University won’t let their grade fall.

We have been lobbying for a range of policies that address the impact of

  • disruptions to teaching
  • changes to assessments and
  • factors that are likely to affect a student’s ability to perform; such as working from home and a lack of access to resources.


We know that the you’ve all been affected in different ways by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we think this should be reflected with how the University awards and classifies degrees. So far, your Student Officer team has:

  • Pushed the University to relieve the pressure on first and second year students to give them more options on upcoming assessments, whilst securing their place in the next year of study
  • Worked with the university to develop new ways to ‘checkpoint’ the achievement of final year students
  • Lobbied for new methods of calculating degree classifications based upon previous performance


Today, after petitions, negotiations and lots of careful thought, Manchester Met has revealed its policy changes to address the difficulties faced by all students.


What does it mean for your degree?

The changes mean that you will be able to put your best foot forward on upcoming alternative assessments, safe in the knowledge your degree classifications can be calculated based on previous achievements if you really struggle with alternative assessments. Basically, this whole situation will not negatively impact you and your degree level. We are pleased that the University is taking this approach instead of cancelling all final year assessments, as it gives future employers the reassurance that students completed their whole degree.


What is a ‘Safety Net’?

Safety Net is a term some universities have adopted to describe the emergency academic procedures put in place because of the spread of Coronavirus. Many include new ways to calculate students’ final degree outcomes and changes to marking processes. For students, these provide solid reassurance that they can only improve from here. In other words, keep going with your assessments and don’t give up now. Use this as a chance to go for it, knowing you can only do better on what you’ve already banked.


New ways of calculating degree classifications for final years

How degrees are normally calculated

The overall final degree grade you receive is called your Degree Classification (1st class, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd Class, Pass). The University usually uses two methods to calculate your final degree outcome, and automatically awards you whichever method returns the highest result.


How it gets calculated:

  • 100% final year: the average of marks from all units taken at level 6.
  • 75% final year + 25% second year: the average of all marks from level 6 units added to the average of all marks from level 5 units in a 75 to 25 weighting.


How will my degree be calculated this year?

The University will calculate your final year average in two ways and have introduced a new ‘no detriment’ approach.

  • Total level 6 average: the average of your marks from all units taken at level 6, including marks for ‘Alternative Assessments.’
  • ‘No detriment’ level 6 average: the average of your marks from all units taken at level 6, excluding marks for ‘Alternative Assessments.’


They will then use whichever result is higher in the following calculations to return your final classification:


  • 100% level 6 average (final year) The average of your marks from all units taken at level 6, either including or excluding marks for ‘Alternative Assessments,’ depending on which gives you the higher mark.
  • 50% final year + 50% second year This means 50% of your final year average added to 50% of your second year average. (Including or excluding marks for alternative assessments, they will use whichever is higher).
  • 75% final year + 25% second year This means 75% of your final year average added to 25% of your second year average. (Including or excluding marks for alternative assessments, they will use whichever is higher).


Other stuff to know

However, the option to apply a ‘no detriment approach’ and exclude your marks from alternative assessments will only apply if you achieve an overall final year average including alternative assessments of 40% or more. This does not mean you must achieve 40% on all units individually, but you must achieve 40% overall when the year is averaged.

The University will conduct all of these calculations for every student, and automatically award you with whichever returns the highest result for your individual circumstances.

If your performance is seriously impacted on upcoming Alternative Assessments, those marks do not need to count towards your final classification, as long as you pass overall. But you also have the opportunity to improve your grades.

The only way is up. And we hope this gives you a sigh of relief and some security heading into upcoming assessments to be able to make the most of this incredibly difficult situation.


How will it be calculated for other years?

Please visit the University's Teaching, Learning and Assessment webpage to see examples of how your progression and degree classification will be applied to your programme:

  • Foundation year (click the drop down 'Will this affect me progressing to Level 4?')
  • First year (click the drop down 'Will this affect me progressing to Level 5?')
  • Second year (click the drop down 'Will this affect me progressing to Level 6')
  • Final year (click the drop down 'Degree clasifications')


More info on ‘Contextualised Marking’

The University have introduced ‘contextualised marking’. We’ve found out more about what this means for students. The latest communication from the University tells us ‘Contextualised Marking’ includes a series of targeted marking methods and new powers to adjust and increase marks, where the University believe students’ marks have been affected by disruption, such as ‘Unit Level Calibration’. Unit Level Calibration means they will look at previous years’ of students’ outcomes on a particular unit and apply whole group ‘uplift,’ (additional marks) if the marks are out of line with previous years.


Next Steps

We will be responding to the University with student feedback. We especially want to know if these measures have not resolved your situation or addressed the issues your course is facing. We will continue to fight for better policy on your behalf, keep in touch with us. Your Education Officer will be taking your views and questions on Instagram. For further questions about assessments contact your Programme Leader/Student Hubs and for advice, contact The Union’s Advice Centre. Good luck, we know that this is one of the hardest times students have ever had to face, but together we can make the most of this.


Your Education Officer


COVID-19, Featured

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