Guidance for staff on student administration and support
Please note the exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what has been identified as part of the cohort wide consideration, or that additional action should be taken as the safety net policy did not quite mitigate the impact of what has been identified as part of the cohort wide consideration.
Please note after the consideration of mitigating circumstances the exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy and/or under the cohort wide consideration is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what has been identified in the mitigating circumstances consideration, or that additional action should be taken as neither the safety net policy nor the cohort wide consideration quite mitigated the impact of what has been identified as part of the mitigating circumstances consideration.
The volume of MCE submissions expected this year is predicted to be significantly higher than normal. The concern was raised that if the standard process was kept in place this could significantly overwhelm colleges and departments who would need to process the volume whilst also supporting students as they took their assessments during the pandemic. The MCE process was reviewed and adjustments proposed which were then consulted on through varying education groups. It was determined some key changes to the administrative portions of the process could help manage the volume this year, whilst ensuring the academic judgement of the examiners could still be consistently applied.
Students are asked to complete three sections.
You should ask the student to ensure they have carried out the following steps:
Students have been asked to submit their MCE forms within 5 working days of their final assessment, this includes their dissertation/thesis. This is to ensure that all of the student’s circumstances are taken into consideration at the final exam board. The MCE documentation is being collated by the Proctors Office and will be supplied on the 6th working day after the final piece of assessment.
A spreadsheet will be provided which captures all the information a student has supplied on their MCE. In addition a SharePoint link will be provided to any supporting evidence which has been supplied by the student. This will be sent to the Chair of Board and administrator 6 days after the final assessment. Any MCEs which are supplied to the Proctors Office after this date and before the final exam board will be forwarded to the Chair and administrator in batches with the last forward date being 2 days before the final exam board meeting date.
The Proctors will consider all MCEs received after the final exam board meeting in line with the late MCE process as detailed in the EAF. If it is determined the student has a valid reason for the late submission this will then be passed to the Chair and administrator. It is expected these will be passed in batches every fortnight after the final exam board meeting.
Given the strain on doctors and nurses due to COVID-19, students have been advised they do not need to submit medical evidence with their MCE. Students have been asked to provide a statement which explicitly details the way(s) in which their circumstances affected their examination performance, e.g. fatigue, poor concentration, panic attacks, etc. and submit (i) any evidence they already have or which is easily accessible such as previous diagnostic letter of a long-term health condition, proof of travel disruption etc. (ii) any contemporaneous evidence such as a copy of an email they sent to the designated college officer following the affected exam(s) etc.
Exam boards should treat all cases equitably no matter the form or degree of evidence provided.
Part of the banding process is an assessment of the strength of the evidence provided by the students. As the evidence standards have been relaxed this academic year it was deemed unreasonable for this banding process to occur.
In a typical year during an invigilated exam the Board of Examiners may be notified of a disruption during the exam. This could be anything from a correction to the paper to unexpected noise outside the exam school. The board would have this reported to them under stage one of the complaints procedure and would be expected to consider what impact this had on the students, and then decide whether and what adjustment should be made to mitigate this impact. This would then be captured in the minutes of the board. The expectation of the systematic assessment is that the board should consider any known impact COVID-19 had on its students, for example if exam papers had to be significantly adjusted to move into an open-book exam format, if a field trip was cancelled so the coursework submission associated with it was adjusted to a research based piece etc. They should assess the impact this is likely to have had on the students and then determine if any mitigation should be applied, and what this mitigation should be. This should then be recorded into the minutes as normal.
No. The exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what the student has brought to their attention in the MCE. Or that action taken under the safety net policy and the cohort wide assessment is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what the student has brought to their attention in the MCE. In addition it is possible for there to be clear evidence of impact on a student but for there to be no appropriate action which the examiners can take, and therefore for no adjustment to be made.
The exam board will need to use their academic judgement to determine if (i) any mitigating action is required, and (ii) what that mitigating action should be. The application of the mitigation is not a mechanistic process and therefore advice cannot be provided on this.
In circumstances where there has clearly been serious impact on a student but there is no action which the board can take, the board may wish to consider whether to recommend that an application is made to Education Committee for appropriate dispensation. For example, examiners are not able to decide that an attempt should be set aside, but in some circumstances an exam board may be unable to pass the candidate at resit but be sympathetic to a candidate being given an exceptional third attempt at an assessment.
For both the cohort-wide action and the individual circumstances actions the exam board should confirm that (i) information about mitigating circumstances has been considered by the examiners, (ii) how that information has been considered (i.e. the information that has been taken into account, and the conclusions that have been drawn from that information), and (iii) the outcome of the consideration with the reasons for the decisions reached. For the cohort consideration this will need to be captured in separate sections within the minutes, for the MCE considerations this should be captured within the supplied spreadsheet. The outcome should be entered onto eVision for publication to students with results via Student Self Service. Further guidance on recording the outcome on eVision is available at https://examshandbook.admin.ox.ac.uk/home
Yes, if all assessments for the course are complete (including dissertations and theses). If the Board wishes to consider the MCEs at an interim meeting they will need to contact Sarah Ashley, Senior Assistant Clerk in order to arrange for this to happen. Boards must bear in mind that student may submit MCEs after this date and must be prepared to consider these submissions via confidential correspondence.
No. Students have 5 working days after their final assessment to submit an MCE and may only submit one MCE, therefore to consider any MCEs prior to this would be unfair to other students. However, if the interim Board are finalising marks and a student has failed a paper the department can email Sarah Ashley, Senior Assistant Clerk for advice. The Exam Board administrator on behalf of the Exam Board may contact the student to explain that they have failed a paper, to ask whether there are any mitigating circumstances that affected the paper, and to provide information on the resit options. Resit options can include delaying a resit where the resit would usually take place before the final exam board meeting. Where an interim board makes progression decisions, any additional information provided by the student in response to the Exam Board administrator query can be taken into account in the progression decision.
Yes – Board of Examiners Scaling Guidance (click here for a Word verison)
Click on the download button below for a PDF copy of the Board MCE consideration spreadsheet layout