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Postgraduates receive their own 'safety net'

University has laid out a plan to alter how qualifications will be awarded

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Image Credit: Patrick Hook-Willers

The University of York has now decided on a solution that it says will take the impact of online learning into account whilst protecting academic integrity.

It has achieved this by altering the main way that postgraduate qualifications are awarded: merits and distinctions. Under normal circumstances, a distinction mark would require at least 70% overall, 70% on an Independent Study Module (ISM) and no failed modules; and a merit mark would require a 60% overall score, with 60% on the ISM and only 20 failed credits.

As a result of the current circumstances, distinctions will now be awarded to those who receive an average of 70% overall score OR on their ISM, instead of both. Students can also fail up to 20 credits in modules on their first attempt as long as they don’t achieve lower than 40 in any of them.

For a merit, an average of 60% overall OR 60% on the ISM will be accepted. Students can fail up to 40 credits in modules and still achieve a merit as long as no more than 20 credits have marks below 40%.

However, unlike the undergraduate solution, the University is not calling this method of assessing postgraduates a ‘safety net’, as they cannot currently provide an accurate indication of a student's best possible outcome before they have completed all their assessments. The measures that have been put in place should provide postgraduate students with the same level of reassurance as undergraduates, as they should already have a good idea of their current average score.

The University told postgraduate students that they “have taken the time to develop something that is helpful, fair and maintains the academic integrity of your qualifications.” They also further stated that they “have worked closely with departments to ensure they can provide the best possible support to our PGT students during this period. We are also providing guidance which will see due consideration given to our assessment criteria for IMS’s.”

Whilst not a final solution for students in extreme circumstances, the offer posed by the University should go some way to offering postgraduates the opportunity to graduate with as little stress from the pandemic as possible.

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