Changes have been made to the University Academic Regulations which will take effect from 27 February this year and are based on the findings of an extensive evaluation undertaken by a sub group of the University Learning and Teaching Committee.
The evaluation involved key stakeholders including students, academic staff and the University of Bradford Students’ Union (UBU), feedback from external examiners and a comparison with academic regulations from other UK universities. The changes have been made with due regard to The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) which provides a reference point for Higher Education Institutions to assist them in the maintenance of academic standards. .
The proposal from the Working Group was subject to robust debate at a meeting of the Learning and Teaching Committee in January 2013 and was recommended to the Senate, who endorsed the proposed changes at a Special meeting held on 13February 2013.
The changes are as follows:
Degree Calculation and Classification
Achievement of Credit: Students will continue to be required to achieve 120 credits at each stage, with compensation in up to 20 credits for marks between 35.0 – 39.0%.
Weighting between Stages: The percentage weighted average split between Stage Two and Stage Three for purposes of the degree calculation will be 20:80. This will increase the proportion of good honours achieved whilst still continuing to recognise achievement in Stage Two of the degree programme. Students are expected to engage fully at all Stages of the programme.
However, students who registered in Stage 2 in 2012/13 (or earlier) either as a first or subsequent attempt, will have their degree calculated using both old and new regulations to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the change.
Classification: The calculation for the degree classification will be based on the best 100 credits at Stage 2 and Stage 3. Thus students will have the lowest 20 credits in each stage discounted from the degree calculation. The lowest 20 credits will also be discounted from the calculation of the award of Merit and Distinction at Undergraduate level (e.g. Certificate of Foundation Studies, Certificate and Diploma of Higher Education, Foundation Degree and Ordinary Degree).
Students found guilty of a Breach of Assessment Regulations are currently penalised by a mark of 0% or 35% (to be 40% in future) being recorded on their transcript and being required to undertake supplementary assessment for achievement of credit. There will be no additional penalty and thus, in line with all other students, they will have the lowest 20 credits discounted from the calculation of their degree classification. Any plagiarised credit over the 20 credits will be included in the degree classification at the stipulated penalty mark of 0 or 40%.
Since students found guilty of plagiarism are still required to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes, the University can be confident that the award reflects what they have achieved. The University is aware of the work which needs to be undertaken with programme teams to continue to enhance assessment practices. This will form part of a wider debate as part of curriculum development and will focus on ‘designing plagiarism out.’
Boundaries: The boundaries for degree classification will be fixed at 68.0, 58.0 and 48.0 and the element of ‘choice’ as to where Boards of Examiners set the boundaries will be removed.
The change to the boundaries proposed for purposes of Degree Classification shall also be applied to the award of Merit and Distinction for both Undergraduate level (e.g. Certificate of Foundation Studies, Certificate and Diploma of Higher Education, Foundation Degree and Ordinary Degree) and Postgraduate Taught programmes. Thus the boundaries will be set at 58.0 for a Merit and 68.0 for a Distinction.
However, the additional requirement at Masters level to achieve a mark in the higher category (ie above 60.0 for Merit and above 70.0 for Distinction) in the Project/Dissertation will be retained for Postgraduate Taught Programmes. There will be no other changes to the Postgraduate Regulations.
Other Regulatory Changes
Compensation: Students will continue to be compensated in up to 20 credits for marks between 35.0% – 39.0% but since the lowest mark achieved in 20 credits will, in future, be excluded from the degree classification, the compensated mark will not form part of the degree calculation.
Carry Forward Mark: Since students who are compensated in 20 credits will in future, have this mark excluded from their degree classification, students who are required to undertake supplementary assessment will be awarded a carry forward mark of 40% in all affected modules. 20 credits of any repeated modules will be discounted when calculating their degree classification. This will address concerns regarding the current carry forward mark of 35%, which is based the threshold mark for compensation, being too low. Thus the effect on the degree classification of students with several capped marks will not be so dramatic. In line with current regulations, capping will not apply to students undertaking supplementary assessment as a first attempt.
Third Attempts: There will be a new University-wide Regulation for the granting for 3rd attempts. Students will be required to achieve 80 credits at 40% and to have attempted their second supplementary assessment. This will apply to all students immediately and will supersede all previous School algorithms for third attempts. Schools will be required to have an approved waiver if third attempts are not to be offered due to Professional Body requirements.
Fourth Attempts: Fourth attempts at Supplementary Assessment will no longer be offered. This will apply to students registering in Stage 0 and 1 from the 2013/14 academic session, however, students currently in the system will continue to be permitted fourth attempts at the discretion of their School, as set out in the School algorithm, to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the change.
Referral: Students who, following supplementary assessment, achieve 100 credits at 40% and 20 credits below 35% and cannot be compensated under the regulations, will be automatically referred in those 20 credits into the next stage. They will undertake supplementary assessment without attendance and will be required to successfully complete the outstanding credit by the end of that stage.
Any Professional Body or curriculum design issues ( for example, module pre-requisites or student skills/competencies) arising from this will need to be addressed, along with ensuring that referred students are given appropriate support to enable them to be successful whilst progressing into the next stage of the programme.
Repeating with attendance: Those students who had been required to repeat the year/modules with attendance rather than undertake their first supplementary assessment in the August re-sit period (due to failure in more than 60 credits) will be permitted to undertake any third attempt without attendance in the following August re-sit period, rather than re-sit with attendance yet again. Students in this category will be required to meet the new University Regulation for the granting of third attempts.
This change is based on the academic grounds that students would have already studied the module twice and will hopefully increase the number of students successfully passing and proceeding into the next stage. It will also reduce the number of Appeals to be allowed to re-sit in the August supplementary period.
This change will not affect the requirement that third attempts, for all other students, to be with attendance.
Discretion of Boards: The current regulations regarding the discretion of Boards of Examiners to make decisions outside the regulations in respect of students with approved extenuating circumstances or to make a case, with supporting rationale, to go outside the regulations on ‘other grounds’ will be retained.
The SAINT system, which provides the Board of Examiner documentation, will automatically calculate and provide mark sheets giving the stage weighted averages and degree classification based on either the new or old regulatory framework, depending on which gave the best outcome for the student. It will indicate which framework was used in the calculation of the award.
For the current year, Schools should continue to consider whether a student is eligible for a third attempt under the new regulation (or fourth attempt, if permitted under the School algorithm) manually. Further work needs to be undertaken to write the new regulation into the SAINT system.
It is anticipated that existing waivers to regulations obtained by Schools will continue to apply and discussions are on-going with individual Schools to confirm their continuing appropriateness.
The changes will apply to Collaborative Partners and discussions are taking place to facilitate this.
An individual letter has been sent to all External Examiners, informing them of the changes and the rationale for them.
Review of Regulations
It has been agreed that the new regulations will be reviewed and evaluated after three years.