Chapter 3 - No Detriment Policy - 2019/20 academic year only

 

  1. No Detriment Policy
    1. Introduction
      1. In exceptional years, confirmed as such by the Academic Dean for Students, it may be necessary to alter the way in which student attainment is calculated in order that marks may better reflect student achievement, independent of the exceptional circumstances that may have been experienced.
      2. In order to calculate attainment in this way, the No Detriment policy has been created to provide a way to calculate a student’s attainment before the exceptional circumstances were experienced. This calculation may then be used as a ‘benchmark’ - a safety net below which the student cannot fall after completing their outstanding assessments and passing the stage.
      3. This policy was developed under the leadership of the DVC Education and Academic Dean for Students in liaison with Colleges, the Students’ Guild and the Students’ Union and provides advice and guidance for staff and students on the principles and application of the ‘No Detriment’ policy. It must be consulted in conjunction with other relevant documentation, including:

        a) The Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook.
        b) The Credit and Qualifications Framework.
        c) The Quality Review Framework.
      4. The guidance within this chapter is underpinned by the following generic principles that apply in all instances. These are:

        a) The equitable treatment of students.
        b) Transparency.
        c) Consistency.
        d) Maintenance of the academic standards and integrity of University of Exeter awards.
    2. Definitions
      1. Benchmark: A calculation based on existing credits to calculate a student’s attainment prior to the agreed point of disruption.
      2. Firm benchmark: A calculation based on existing credits where at least 50% of the stage weighted credits have been achieved prior to the agreed point of disruption. This constitutes a safety net below which a student cannot fall after completing their outstanding assessments and passing the stage (see 3.3.3 below).
      3. Provisional benchmark; A calculation based on existing credits, but where less than 50% of the stage weighted credits have been achieved prior to the agreed point of disruption and where it has not been possible to utilise credit from a previous academic stage. This benchmark will be reviewed at the next available APAC alongside the credit-weighted mean mark achieved after all outstanding assessments have been completed for the stage. For more information, see section 3.3.5 below.
      4. Partial benchmark; A calculation based on existing credits where at least 50% of the stage weighted credits have been achieved prior to the agreed point of disruption, but where outstanding credits for the stage will not be completed within this academic year i.e. due to deferrals, referrals or part time study for example. This benchmark will be calculated once the student has passed the stage and will be applied to the proportion of stage credits undertaken in the current academic year that have been impacted by the disruption (between the agreed date of disruption and the start of the next academic year). For more information, see section 3.3.6 below.
    3. Principles and Application
      1. The key elements of the policy are as follows:

        a) The benchmark will be based on actual achievement from the current academic stage as far as possible.
        b) In order for the benchmark to be reliable, it will be based on a mean mark derived from sufficient credit (equivalent to at least 50% of the total credits of the relevant stage).
        c) The benchmark cannot be applied until the full credit load for the stage has been undertaken. The benchmark will be calculated and applied after all other normal assessment processes have been completed (e.g. condonement, mitigation, scaling, and late penalties). Please see the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook for further details on these policies.
        d) Passing the stage (following completion of any outstanding final assessments) is a pre-requisite for application of the benchmark.
        e) For students who pass the current stage, the credit-weighted mean for all assessments contributing to the stage (academic year for full-time students) will be compared to the firm benchmark, and the higher of these two results will be used as their overall result for the stage (see section 3.3.3 and 3.3.4 below).
        f) If insufficient credit has been accumulated in the current stage, achievement in the previous stage will be included within the calculation where possible.
        g) If there was no prior stage, then the benchmark will be provisional until sufficient credit has been accumulated to confirm the benchmark.
        h) Where a provisional benchmark is in place, the higher of the two results will be used as the overall result for the stage, although the benchmark may be adjusted to better reflect achievement (see 3.5.1 below). For students with a partial benchmark, please see section 3.3.6 below.
        i) Where this policy has been invoked, and the benchmark applied, the Calculated Stage Average for the impacted stage will be the benchmark rather than the credit-weighted stage average. A note explaining the ‘No Detriment’ policy will be added to the transcripts of all students on programmes to which the policy applies.
        j) For programmes subject to regulation/ accreditation by a professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB), it may not be possible to apply the No Detriment policy. Where such programmes exist, Colleges must communicate with the appropriate regulatory body to establish how the principles of this policy might be applied.
        k) In the event of a fully justified case being presented for a programme of study to be exempted from this policy or for the policy to be varied (for PSRB or any other reason), whether in whole or in part, this must be considered and approved by the Academic Dean for Students. If approval is given, the decision and justification must be clearly communicated to affected students at the earliest opportunity.
      2. It may be necessary to vary key elements of the policy, as set out in 3.1 above, in relation to programmes of study that involve study abroad or placements. Students undertaking such programmes should also, therefore, refer to section 4.0 below for how the No Detriment policy will be applied in such cases.
      3. Principles for Calculating Benchmark.
        1. In normal years, a credit-weighted mean is calculated for the stage based on all of the summative assessments taken during that stage. The number of credits per programme stage can be found in Chapter 9 of the Credit and Qualifications Framework.
        2. In calculating benchmarks during exceptional years, it is important to take an approach which is as close as possible to standard processes, whilst taking into account the fact that students have not had a chance to accumulate all of their credits.
        3. Firm benchmarks: For students who have completed at least 50% of the required stage credits through assessments submitted on or prior to the agreed point of disruption, their current stage marks alone will be used to calculate a firm benchmark. Note: because the credit-weighted mean mark at least half a stage is comprised of many individual assessment marks, this is considered to be a highly robust measurement of prior performance.
        4. For students who have completed less than 50% of the required stage credits through assessments submitted on or prior to the agreed point of disruption (such as students who may have been on placements or Study Abroad years) their current stage marks will be used to calculate the firm benchmark along with their credit-weighted mean mark from the previous academic stage (including INTO International Year One) to constitute, where possible, the remaining credits necessary to calculate a benchmark.
        5. Provisional benchmarks: For students who have completed less than 50% of the required stage credits through assessments submitted on or prior to the agreed point of disruption, and for whom it is not possible to make up the remaining credits from prior stages (e.g. students on a single-stage programme or who are in the first stage of a multi-stage programme) marks from the assessments taken in the current stage will be used alone to calculate a provisional benchmark (see section 3.5 below). Where less than 50% of assessments have been completed by the Summer APAC, the benchmark will continue to be provisional until the final APAC of the stage, at which point section 3.5.1 below will apply.
        6. Partial benchmarks: For students who do not complete their stage in the current academic year (this could be due to deferrals, referrals, part time study or students on non-standard full time programmes) the benchmark cannot be applied during the current academic year. Instead, once the student has passed the stage the benchmark will be applied to the proportion of stage credits that have been impacted by the disruption (between the agreed date of disruption and the start of the next academic year).
        7. For PGT students with assessments scheduled to take place over the summer, there is the opportunity to establish or increase a firm benchmark at the summer APACs, before dissertations and other remaining assessments are completed. Therefore, at APACs in the summer, the credit-weighted mean will be calculated using all results gained up to that point in time. The benchmark that will apply at the final autumn APAC will then be established.
        8. For students who have previously undertaken International Year One (IYO) programmes at Exeter, the No Detriment policy will apply and the IYO year may be included in benchmark calculations. These courses are specifically designed to match the University of Exeter’s own first year programmes; they are also quality assured through University appointed external examiners, and through the University’s and INTO’s Joint Academic Boards. For these reasons the University can have high confidence in the robustness of any marks achieved by students on Exeter IYO programmes.
        9. For students who have been found guilty of academic misconduct, the following will apply:

          a) For assessments completed prior to the agreed date of disruption, if a mark is affected by academic misconduct, then the mark attained once the penalty has been taken into consideration (e.g. pass mark or zero) will be used in the calculation of the benchmark.
          b) For assessments completed after the agreed date of disruption, academic misconduct penalties should continue to be applied where necessary. If a mark is affected by academic misconduct, then it is the mark attained once the academic misconduct has been taken into consideration (e.g. pass mark or zero) that is taken as the confirmed assessment mark, and the mark associated with this module will not be raised under the No Detriment policy.
        10. It is intended that benchmarks will be automatically calculated for all students. Some helpful guidance videos were created during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019/20 which may be useful:

          a) https://recapexeter.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=747637c6-ab70-48b1-823d-ab960161c197
          b) https://recapexeter.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=0cc67e19-c9b9-435b-9a2c-ab9700062c1b

          For more details on how benchmarks must be calculated, please contact the Student Records team in the first instance.
      4. Applying the firm benchmark.
        1. The firm benchmark is applied at the level of the credit-weighted mean for the stage after all normal final assessment processes have been completed (and the stage passed) and a credit-weighted mean has been derived through standard methods of calculation. At this point two outcomes are possible:

          a) If the credit-weighted mean of confirmed marks for all assessments that contribute to the stage is higher than the firm benchmark, then the credit-weighted mean will be the overall stage result.
          b) If the credit-weighted mean of confirmed marks for all assessments that contribute to the stage is lower than the firm benchmark, then the benchmark will be the overall stage result.
      5. Confirming provisional and partial benchmarks.
        1. For provisional benchmarks, the APAC will calculate the extent to which it provides an adequate reflection of the student’s performance and how to use it in the calculation of the final stage result. This calculation is based upon a continuum reflecting the assumption that the fewer credits attained, the closer the examination marks need to be to the provisional benchmark, in order for it to be treated as a firm benchmark.
        2. Partial benchmarks will be considered at the next available APAC once the stage has been completed and passed, alongside all other completed credit from the stage.

          The partial benchmark will be included in the calculation of the credit-weighted average. An example of how this will work in practice is below:

          • An undergraduate student has not yet completed any assessments in Stage 3.
          • The student achieved a mean of 55% in Stage 2 – so their benchmark is 55% (this will be referred to as a partial benchmark).
          • The student has 50% of their stage credits being assessed in summer 2020 which will be covered by the ’No Detriment’ policy, and associated benchmark. They achieve a mean of 51% over those credits.
          • The student will then undertake 50% of their credits during 2020/21. They achieve a mean of 65% over those credits.
          • Their Stage 3 mean would be calculated as follows:
          • 0.5 x 55% (i.e. the credits covered by the ‘No Detriment’ policy and benchmark) + 0.5 x 65% (i.e. the credits achieved in 2020/21) = 60% mean for the stage.
      6. Assessments.
        1. Deferrals: Any students concerned about the impact of disruption on their ability to perform may ask to defer all of their remaining assessments for the current academic year until either the next assessment window or to next academic year. Marks from assessments which have been deferred to the next academic year will not be considered under the No Detriment policy.
        2. Assessments with multiple components: Where a form of assessment is made up of multiple components, for example in-class tests or participation scores, and where some of these components were completed prior to the agreed date of disruption and some after, the overall assessment mark (including the marks for those components completed prior to the agreed date of disruption) will not be included in the benchmark calculation as the assessment process is considered to be unfinished. In these circumstances it is not possible to prejudge what the final assessment mark would have been, and any existing marks represent a partial, rather than complete, picture of the student’s attainment. Students with a positive trajectory of attainment, improving over time, would be disadvantaged in comparison with their peers, and vice versa. Marks for earlier assessment components cannot be wholly indicative of student performance in subsequent assessment components.
        3. Assessments with multiple submission dates: Where an assessment has multiple submission dates, for example presentations, and where some students within a cohort submitted prior to the agreed date of disruption, but others did not, the assessment will not be included in the benchmark calculations for any student in the cohort.
        4. Extensions: Where students have been granted an extension and the new submission date falls after the agreed date of disruption, this assessment will not be included in the benchmark calculation. This is in recognition of the fact that these students have personal circumstances which have prevented them from completing the assessment by the original deadline. These circumstances are likely to be exacerbated by any disruption and therefore this assessment should be covered by the No Detriment ‘safety net’.
        5. Early submission: Where students have submitted work prior to the deadline, but the deadline is after the agreed date of disruption, this assessment will not be included in the benchmark calculation but will be covered by the No Detriment policy. This is in line with the principle in 3.6.3 above and the student’s decision/ability to complete work early should not determine whether or not this is covered by the No Detriment ’safety net’.
    4. Study Abroad and Placements
      1. Study Abroad – Outbound.
        1. For students undertaking a short-term study abroad (for example a module), the No Detriment policy will apply to the marks for module. The module will be treated the same as any other taught module in this regard.
        2. For students studying on programmes which include a year abroad, the No Detriment policy will apply but the cut-off date for calculating the benchmark may differ from the norm. This is because exceptional events may take place on different time scales in different countries, for example in 2019/20 in the Covid-19 pandemic, this was based on the end date of the host institution’s first semester. Where students have not completed 50% of their credits by this date, then their benchmark will be calculated as set out in 3.3.4 above.
        3. Students will be able to progress to next academic year based on their benchmark and the number of credits they have completed of the total requirement for the stage. The only exception to this may be Modern Languages students, where completion of sufficient credits for the year is required, as the year abroad is an integral part of the programme.
        4. For students on a semester abroad in term 1, marks from the term 1 will be used to calculate their benchmark along with any assessments completed at Exeter up to the agreed date of disruption.
        5. For students on a semester abroad in term 2, marks from term 1 at Exeter will be used to calculate the benchmark.
        6. For students who achieve a benchmark which is lower than the required pass mark for the programme, they may be able to progress via transfer to a 3-year non-study abroad variant of their programme.
        7. Students should be encouraged to complete any alternative assessments provided by their host institution or Exeter in order to improve upon their benchmark.
        8. In cases where it is deemed that Study Abroad students have been subject to additional disruption, the APAC will take this in to consideration when calculating the final degree classification; students will be awarded based on the higher of either the three year or four year stage weighted average. This will not affect the final degree title, and details of the year abroad will be recorded on the transcript.
      2. Study Abroad – Inbound

        For those students studying at Exeter from a partner institution, the No Detriment policy will apply as follows.
        1. The cut-off date for calculating the benchmark will be the same as all other Exeter students.
        2. In order to calculate a firm benchmark, students need to have completed 50% of the credits that they are studying at Exeter. Where students have not completed 50% of credits prior to the agreed date of disruption, the benchmark will be provisional.
        3. For students with a provisional benchmark, the APAC will consider student performance in the remaining summer assessments. As outlined in section 3.5.1 above, the APAC will calculate the extent to which the provisional benchmark provides an adequate reflection of the student’s performance and how to use it in the calculation of the final stage result. This calculation is based upon a continuum reflecting the assumption that the fewer credits attained, the closer the examination marks need to be to the provisional benchmark, in order for it to be treated as a firm benchmark.
      3. Placements
        1. For students undertaking short-term placements (i.e. placements that do not cover a whole academic year/stage or equivalent), the standard No Detriment policy (see section 3) will apply to the marks for placement modules.
        2. Students on a year- or stage-long placement will be awarded based on the higher of either, the stage weighted average, including their placement year, or a stage weighted average disregarding the placement year. This will not affect the degree title and the true mark for the placement will appear on transcripts.
        3. This application of the No Detriment policy will not impact the way in which student progression to the next of stage is considered (see Chapter 8 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook). However, in circumstances where the No Detriment policy is required, alternative plans for assessment may be needed if students are unable to complete the required number of credits as planned during their time on placement. Students who have not achieved the required credit for progression (using the original or alternative assessments), will be placed on the variant of their programme excluding the placement year.
        4. This variation of the No Detriment policy will be clearly communicated to affected students.
      4. ‘Year Out’ in prior stage
        1. In circumstances in which insufficient credits have been completed in the current academic year to create a benchmark for students who studied abroad or undertook placements in the preceding stage, the remaining credits will be derived from the credit-weighted mean marks for both the preceding two academic stages. These marks will be used with the same relative weighting for the study abroad or placement year as is used in degree classification calculations.
        2. In all cases the ‘year out’ will be factored into the benchmark calculation such that it is consistent with standard methods for calculating degree classifications. The precise formula for this varies between programmes (such as where the ‘year out’ does not take place in the third stage of a 4 year programme, or for 5-year integrated Master’s programmes). Details of degree classification weightings can be found in section 9.8 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook.
      5. In the event that it is not explicitly clear which category a programme of study falls within, including those with study abroad or placement, and a decision is required on how the policy should be applied and benchmarks calculated, the case must be referred to the Academic Dean for Students to determine and the outcome clearly communicated to affected students at the earliest opportunity.
    5. Related policies
      1. Preponderance
        1. Standard preponderance rules, are outlined in Chapter 9 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook .
        2. In alignment with the No Detriment policy, preponderance calculations will be based on the higher of either a student’s benchmark calculation or their final award calculation, in order to decide whether they qualify for consideration under preponderance rules; the stage-weighted credits from across the student’s programme will then be used to calculate whether they qualify for preponderance uplift into the higher classification boundary.

          For example:

          a) Where a student has achieved a firm benchmark of 67.4, and is awarded a higher final award calculation of 68.4 after their summer assessments, they would be considered for preponderance in the usual way, taking in to account all the final stage-weighted module results, not just those included in the firm benchmark calculation. As long as the student had at least 50% of their final stage-weighted credits at the level of the higher classification or above, e.g. at least 70% to qualify for a First Class Honours degree, they would qualify for preponderance uplift.
          b) Where a student has achieved a firm benchmark of 68.4, but achieves a final award calculation of 67.4 after their summer assessments, which is lower than their benchmark, their benchmark will supersede their final award calculation under the No Detriment policy and preponderance calculations will then apply in the usual way, taking in to account all the stage weighted credits, not just those included in the firm benchmark calculation. As long as the student had at least 50% of their final stage-weighted credits at the level of the higher classification or above, eg. at least 70% to qualify for a First Class Honours degree, they would qualify for preponderance uplift.
        3. The following points relating to preponderance must be noted:

          a) Preponderance must only be calculated at the end of the final year of study, when all module results have been agreed; it must not be used to calculate year averages for earlier stages.
          b) APACs have discretion to make changes to individual module marks in exceptional years, so any truly borderline cases that emerge under exceptional circumstances may be considered by the APACs.
      2. Repeat Years

        Standard repeat study rules, are outlined in Chapter 11 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding Handbook for Taught programmes.
        1. Students who are currently repeating a stage will have their credit-weighted mean calculated using credits achieved in their current stage, not their first attempt at the current stage.
        2. If the credit-weighted mean from a previous stage is required to be included in the benchmark calculation, this will be the previous stage, not the previous/ first attempt at the current stage.
      3. Resit without Attendance

        Standard referral rules, are outlined in Chapter 11 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding Handbook for Taught programmes.
        1. Where students are currently resitting without attendance, the current and previous years count as a single stage. Therefore the benchmark will be calculated using all of the marks from this stage.
        2. If the credit-weighted mean from a previous stage is required to be included in the benchmark calculation, this will be the previous stage, not the previous year of the current stage.
      4. Trailing Modules

        Standard trailing rules, are outlined in Chapter 11 of the Assessment, Progression and Awarding Handbook for Taught programmes.
        1. Trailed modules are part of a student’s programme carried forward from the previous stage for completion in the current academic stage. Due to this, any assessments in these modules originally completed prior to the agreed point of disruption, will not be included in the calculation of the benchmark. However, for students who have completed less than 50% of the required stage credits through assessments submitted on or prior to the agreed point of disruption, marks from the assessments originally taken in the previous stage as part of the trailed module may be used when calculating a provisional benchmark.
        2. As the benchmark only applies to the overall stage result, if assessments in the trailed module were completed during the agreed period of disruption they will be covered by the No Detriment policy in the same way as modules for the current stage. However, the impact of any disruption will be taken into consideration through the existing powers of the APAC in ‘Exceptional Circumstances’.

 

Last reviewed July 2021

Back to top