Adjustments to assessment arrangements

All student update: 20 March 2020

Important update on the University’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak – this message provides an important update on the University’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

First, and most obviously, these are unprecedented times for everyone. The steps the University is taking in response to the impact of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak aim to safeguard the health and well-being of our entire University community.

We do understand that you, and your families, may be anxious. We are taking the steps we can to ensure that you can continue to study, and progress towards completing your degree programmes by making adjustments to teaching and assessment arrangements as quickly and clearly as we can. You can find the latest and fullest University information about what we are doing at shu.ac.uk/coronavirus. Do please look at this regularly. The main headlines are:

● Face-to-face teaching has been suspended. Teaching and learning arrangements have been transferred online and/or accessed remotely. Visit our Online Learning Support Guidance
● Our campus libraries remain open twenty-four hours a day but almost all other buildings are closed.
● The start of examinations is delayed for one week
● Our support for students is available online and remotely, including advice on wellbeing and support for mental health.

We have moved very quickly over the last week, and we can now set out further details on arrangements for teaching and learning, assessments and examinations for the remainder of this academic year.

Teaching and learning
Academic calendar
Very rapid progress has been made in the transition to online teaching, and we are able to use our technology tools to understand better how students are engaging with remote teaching. We know that many of you are concerned about assessment and examinations and we have thought hard about how to adapt our arrangements. The University is making some adjustments to the academic calendar for the remainder of this year:

● Monday 23 March – Teaching to continue online for two weeks
● Monday 6 April – Easter Vacation
● Monday 20 April – Teaching week
● Monday 27 April – Study and Revision week
● Monday 4 May – Additional Study and Revision week
● From Monday 11 May – Examinations

Examinations
Examinations will be delivered online wherever possible. This means that examination papers will be available through Blackboard and answers submitted in the same way as coursework assignments. More information on this will be provided by Heads of Department and Course Leaders when final details for each examination are confirmed: we’ll do that as soon as we can, but we do want to get the details right – because we know that details matter.

Assessments
Assessment deadlines already set will remain in place, because we think this creates greater clarity for everyone. However, hand-in dates and deadlines may be extended by your Head of Department. You will be informed in good time of any changes.

We will ensure that individuals are not disadvantaged in any assessment activity. Where any content or assessment of learning outcomes is aligned with professional body accreditation, we will ensure that this content is covered. We will also closely monitor any impact on specific modules to ensure no detriment to student outcomes. Students on placement courses will receive a separate communication about assessment and we will ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

We are particularly mindful that final year students may have specific concerns and support needs as they approach the end of their studies. These differ across the University, so we have asked departments to provide you with guidance. We would encourage any students who need support to contact their Student Support Adviser: you can still do this through our remote access arrangements.

If you are unwell or facing difficult circumstances and are unable to complete your assignment by the deadline you can request an extension in the normal way. If you are still unable to submit an assessment at the point of your extension deadline, or if you have been unwell for a significant amount of time, you can submit a Request to Repeat an Assessment Attempt (RRAA).

Update April 2020: Please refer to the university’s coronovirus impact: information for students page which is continually updated with key changes and guidance on assessment.

Placements
I understand that there are many questions from students undertaking placements. Students should observe their placement providers’ local response to coronavirus. Academic support for placements will be delivered by email, phone and videoconferencing wherever possible. For more details, refer to the coronavirus FAQs for students on placement.

Health placements
We also have specific and detailed advice for Health placement students; please refer to our guidance for health placements and check regularly for any updates.

Further information
You will be contacted and updated by Heads of Department and Course Leaders as your studies continue. As was noted above, shu.ac.uk/coronavirus will be kept up to date with the latest information.

If you have a Coronavirus impact related question that is not answered through the advice page, do contact the University Help Centre by telephone, from Monday to Friday 9 am until 5 pm, by telephone (0114 225 4555) or Email (coronavirus@shu.ac.uk).

Everyone is facing a rapidly changing and unpredictable situation. I want to thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

With best wishes,
Professor Sir Chris Husbands
Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University