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Degree result affected by strike
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dozydoora · 16/06/2018 13:14

Hi. Is anyone else out there in this position? DD has just missed a 1st on her degree by 0.4%. Her course was badly hit by the strikes before Easter but the uni say they have dealt with the effect of the strikes by re-writing the exams to remove content not taught. When it was pointed out that this did not take into effect the stress and uncertainty that had hit all the students, which is really likely to have reduced all marks by a few percent, they would only refer to claims for extenuating situations -ie where stress had actually resulted in medication by a GP. So for those kids who did not completely fall apart, the message seems to be 'tough'. Don't get me wrong, we are so proud of her result and a 2.1 is fantastic, but it doesn't seem fair that this whole cohort have been affected by the strikes and the unis are just ignoring it in the marks - this applies to those who have missed any grade boundaries by a couple of percent, not just the top ones. Anyone else in the same situation? Any thoughts?

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Fad · 16/06/2018 14:07

It really doesn't seem fair. That content that was removed might have been her best topic. Also, many unis round up slightly if the student is within 1% of a first.

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cheeseoverchocolate · 16/06/2018 14:18

Did she get a 1st in her 2nd year? You'd think if she was an excellent student to start with they would/should have looked at increasing her overall average in her final year. If they haven't, it may be that the view was taken that she did not perform at an excellent level and thus didn't deserve a 1st. Since she was assessed on content not affected by the strikes, the strikes would not matter per se. I can't imagine 'stress from strike' having much weight in SACs.

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Fad · 16/06/2018 14:26

content not affected by the strikes, the strikes would not matter
I think it could though.
Everyone does better in some topics than others. If for example DS had been assessed on immunology (where he got 65%) and not on neuroscience (78%) it would have impacted the overall grade.
If your best topic was not assessed but your worst topic was then there is less chance to even out the average outcome.

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NameChangedAgain18 · 16/06/2018 14:56

As cheeseoverchocolate says, it very much depends on your daughter’s profile over the two years. If she has consistently (or mainly) been performing just below the boundary for a first, it will be hard to make a case that the classification was affected by the strikes. If she dipped during the strike period, that’s a different matter. One might argue, though, that the stress caused by the strike was counterbalanced by the need to retain and revise less material than would have otherwise been the case.

My experience of sitting on exam boards for the last fifteen years is that the board will examine the student’s profile from every possible angle, and that they want to push students over the boundary rather than keep them below it. Determining the classification is a very careful and detailed process if the average mark is borderline. For various reasons (e.g., TEF, not having to deal with appeals over the summer) it is very much in the department’s interests, as well as the student’s, to look at things favourably.

Also, is classification at your daughter’s university solely done on the basis of the average, or does it take account of other factors such as preponderance of marks?

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dozydoora · 17/06/2018 11:01

Hi everyone. Her 2nd year was 69.4 so well within what she would have expected to be able to pull up to a 1st in 3rd year. The problem with assessing the effect of the strikes is that her course was exam marked and the exams all came at once at the end of the year, apart from her project which she passed with 75%. The alterations to the exam content wasn't released until just before the exams started so the point about not having to revise for everything is counter-argued by not knowing what they were going to include, including their decision on non-taught subjects. How could she know until the results were released, how badly the strikes had effected her learning? One module that was the worst strike hit has brought down her average - without it she would be a 1st. How would she know if had 'dipped' during the strikes until the results are out? As all the students had to deal with the stress and uncertainty during their final term, is it so unreasonable to think that all overall results were affected?

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purplegreen99 · 19/06/2018 09:54

Don't know if this helps, but there is some advice on the Which? website about how to challenge a university degree grade: www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-appeal-a-university-grade

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TisNowt · 19/06/2018 09:56

How annoying and disappointing for your daughter.

Op, did your daughter have any extenuating circumstances?

Can she appeal?

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dozydoora · 19/06/2018 17:24

Hi. No extenuating circumstances. The only appeals route seems to be procedural irregularity which interestingly the uni have added a specific section for appeals for the strike effect into - assume they are expecting it to be raised quite a bit! The really annoying thing is that her friend who already had a diagnosis of anxiety from the GP will be able to claim extra stress due to the strike. As I said before, it seems that those students who are usually and generally ok will not be given any allowance for the strike effect, but those who weren't will be able to claim even more. The students who will lose the most will be those whose overall grades have been/may have been effected by just 0.5% overall whose final marks are just below the grade boundaries. It just doesn't seem fair.

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ManInTheMoonMarigold · 19/06/2018 17:37

The issues you raise would have been covered at exam boards. The exam boards look at the marks achieved in previous years both for the course overall and at module level. If the marks were significantly lower this year than for the same modules / course in previous years, they go for moderation.

At moderation, the first thing looked at is the profile of the cohort. It is more detailed than this, looking at the spread of marks and so on, but say, for example, the average mark over the past five years is 65 but for this cohort it is 60. If at year 2, the average mark was 65 and the mark for this cohort was again 60, this would just be considered a poorer cohort measured against the agreed standards for the course. If, on the other hand, the average for this cohort at year 2 was 65 but they had dipped to 60 at year 3, moderation would move on to, amongst other things, consider the circumstances that may have affected some or all people in the cohort.

If all the cohort (usually all people taking a particular module) has scored lower than might be expected based on data from previous years, additional random sample remarking and a lot of other tests of consistency, then a request can be made for scaling. This involves applying a mathematical formula to all the scores. The formula will always maintain the ranking of the candidates, so if you have the 10th best score, you will still have the 10th best score after scaling, but all the scores will be increased (or decreased).

Some universities will tell students if their papers went to a particular point in moderation, in the same way they will tell them if their dissertation went to external examiners, other won't.

So issues like the scores for one module or all modules being lower will have been investigated and (if necessary) resolved before the students get their marks.

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dozydoora · 20/06/2018 10:21

ManInTheMoon - thank you for that explanation. I guess we'll now have to wait for the graduation ceremony to see if that is the case, by comparing the number of this year's 1st, 2.1s, etc to last years.

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WanderingWavelet · 23/06/2018 19:28

Sorry, but I don’t think your daughter has a case. She didn’t have a First in her second year, and although she’s close this year, she still didn’t quite make it.

You say the “problem” was that most of her assessments were exams. Maybe she’s not as good at exams as at coursework?

In a normal year, a student that close to the boundary will have had several chances to make it over the grade division. There will be alternatives outlined in the University examination regulations about candidates on a grade borderline. As a PP says, exam boards turn themselves inside out to push candidates up if there’s a good case

It may simply be that your DD is an excellent student, but not quite at the level of a First just yet. Sometimes always being on that borderline is just what it is.

My university took the potential effect of the strikes on students’ work very seriously. We had two exam boards this year (we normally only have one). One was specifically to look at every single module in term 2 to check for any possible effects from the strike. Student cohorts were checked against previous years and university-wide procedures for scaling up if necessary were introduced.

Universities are very sensitive about the potential effects - but as someone at the chalk face and working with final year students on dissertations, my sense is that students wee far less affected than they feared they would be. The final term of 3rd Year should be the most independent - after all, in just a few months, they’re deemed to be independent professionals!

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INeedNewShoes · 23/06/2018 19:33

More than the marks issue I am astounded that it is deemed acceptable to not complete the course content.

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dozydoora · 24/06/2018 16:27

WanderingWavelet - I didn't mean the problem was her assessments were exams - she is very good at exams - what I meant was that it was impossible to know the effect on her studies until the exams were sat and marked. With ongoing project work, any effect becomes clearer as you go along, not when its too late to do anything about it! No she didn't have 1st in year 2, but being only 0.6% off with a 60/40 weighting to be applied aswell meant that this was an entirely doable amount to bring up the grade to a 1st in year 3. As for the 3rd year being the most independent, surely the type of degree has a large bearing on this. Science based degrees have a large content of taught time, which due to the strike was missed. Also, if you know you are going to have to teach yourself you can plan for it - the day-to-day uncertainty of the strikes made this an impossible situation. Having seen the state of DD at Easter when the strikes had been going on for 4 weeks and she still did not know when they would end, I am in no doubt that her personal performance was effected. Whether this will show across the cohort of her course remains to be seen and how she would prove this on an individual basis I have no idea.
INeedNewShoes - I know! A lot of questions have come up following these strikes. Generally, it appears that the universities are very 'fluid' with their descriptions of their courses and the ways in which they will/may/can teach those courses. If you were cynical, you would say that it is specifically to avoid any liability for failing to provide the contracted agreement for a degree in the event of strikes, etc! How can you argue for a refund or a review for failing to provide when the method of provision is not declared. With the amount of money these degrees are now costing, some areas of some universities need to start seeing their students as consumers with equivalent rights.

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titchy · 24/06/2018 17:56

But just because getting a first overall was doable doesn't mean that's what she would have done. I'm sympathetic (well I was until the students are consumers comment...), but I'd bet my bottom dollar her marks and the marks of everyone else will have been scrutinised and compared and analysed in minute detail and her exam board would have erred on the side of caution if there was any doubt. It benefits universities to award as many high achieving degrees after all. Unfortunately she just wasn't quite up to it.

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WanderingWavelet · 24/06/2018 18:57

But just because getting a first overall was doable doesn't mean that's what she would have done

This.

Sometimes - as hard as it is for the student to understand - sometimes, students are really simply borderline students. It's frustrating, but that is sometimes the case.

If that is her mark overall, after all the exam boards and application of university regulations, then that is her mark. It will have been looked at, as PP say upthread, in terms of previous cohorts, and overall cohort achievement.

Also, you need to understand that most university marking schemes aren't simple averages. At my place, if a student is on a borderline, then TWO tests are applied:

  1. a simple averaging of all module marks, appropriately weighted. For example, we weight 3rd year at twice 2nd year to emphasise 'exit velocity'

  2. The preponderance rule - a set proportion of individual module marks must be at the higher class mark number

    This second condition is important. It means that f a student gets very high marks in one area of a degree, but ploughs other areas, their overall classification reflects that. Mathematically, averages tend towards the middle, ironing out the higher & the lower ends of a marking range. So the 'preponderance requirement' tries to balance that out, recognising a pattern of student achievement in each module, rather than the average across all modules.

    So if she were at my place, your DD may well have been close in terms of the numerical average, but not eligible to be pushed up into the next classification because she didn't meet the preponderance rule ie a certain number of modules which achieved a First class mark.

    I've seen students with slightly lower averages be pushed up into the next classification, because their overall average was within x% (can't remember the exact definition of 'borderline, but it's GENEROUS), and they met the preponderance requirement. I've seen students with higher overall averages held back at the borderline because of the preponderance.

    Look, universities' examination regulations are generous: they are designed to maximise students' achievements as much as possible.

    And like @titchy - as a dedicated educator, I find that the attitude that "students are consumers" stinks.
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dozydoora · 25/06/2018 09:27

I don't have her full breakdown to hand, but I will have a look and see how it fits with the tests you have outlined.
What is the problem with students being seen as consumers? £50K-£60K of spending in any other arena would get you some legal protection on quality, quantity, etc so why not in education? Yes a contract has to be a two-way thing - the students would need to agree to standards and requirements aswell, but I don't see the problem. The students haven't chosen to become consumers and pay all this money - it has been forced on them - but now that it has, it should be providing them with some legal platform.

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ellesbellesxxx · 25/06/2018 09:35

I missed a 2:1 by 0.6%. At the time I was devastated but now.. I think I should have enjoyed that final year more!!! A 2:2 has never held me back!!!!
A 2:1 is amazing, your daughter has done really well.

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Bluntness100 · 25/06/2018 09:43

My understanding is when a student misses by this much, it is reviewed by the board of examiners, there is normally a mathematical calculation, where if the student achieved x amount of credits or points across other subjects and failed less than x amount they would be moved up to a first.

You should be able to find the universities criteria on line and with her results be able to understand why the board of examiners have elected not to award a first.

It is still a fantastic result though, and she should be very proud.

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dozydoora · 25/06/2018 10:02

Thank you ellesbelles - I suspect that thought has gone through her mind by now ;).
We are all really proud of her and keep telling her how amazing she is.

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Bluntness100 · 25/06/2018 10:03

Sorry I'd also add the preponderance rule is very important as a pp said.

The way I understand it, is if you look at her second and third year results for each module if she predominantly Scored a 2:1 and only a couple of subjects brought her grade average up close to thr first, then the overall performance would indicate a 2:1 and they would award accordingly.

If she was predominantly achieving firsts in her modules, but one or two subjects brought her down slightly they would consider awarding a first.

Unis do want to benefit the student as well as themselves, so I think understanding her marks for the 2nd/3rd year for each module and how she was predominantly performing ie 2:1 or first level in each subject, would tell you both more as to why the board of examiners chose to award as they did.

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DerelictWreck · 25/06/2018 10:08

If she got 69.6% it will be rounded up to 70% and therefore a 1st, no?

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Bluntness100 · 25/06/2018 10:23

If she got 69.6% it will be rounded up to 70% and therefore a 1st, no?

I think it depends on the uni and the subject. Normally anything over 68 is reviewed by the board of examiners, and I think the wider context of performance taken into account when deciding the final award.

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Kit10 · 25/06/2018 10:32

Has the exam board sat for the final review? I was 0.8% from a distinction in my postgraduate diploma but when the board sat they ruled it as a distinction rather than a merit. Not sure if they do for undergraduate. Either way with a mark SO close I would ask for a review of the marks.

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Racecardriver · 25/06/2018 10:39

Why didn't she just ask to take the year off if she couldn't cope with the strikes? I don't think she really has a case for having her mark improved. However, she could try to sue the university I suppose. It won't really do anything about her grade but at least she can reduce her debt a bit.

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BertrandRussell · 25/06/2018 10:43

"The really annoying thing is that her friend who already had a diagnosis of anxiety from the GP will be able to claim extra stress due to the strike"
Yes, that must be really annoying. Hmm

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