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Reg. 41 Governing the Management of the Impact upon the University’s Academic Business of Force Majeure

***Amendments to Regulation 41 were last approved by the University Council at the meeting held on 21 November 2018 with changes taking immediate effect.***

Regulation Governing the Management of the Impact upon the University’s Academic Business of Force Majeure

This standing regulation will only be in force if it has been formally invoked by the Steering Committee on behalf of the Senate in circumstances in which the University’s academic business is significantly jeopardised by force majeure.

This regulation takes precedence over other regulations relating to student classification and progression (including Regulation 12 on Medical Absence) and over the regulations governing the quoracy for meetings of Boards of Examiners.

Regulations relating to appeals processes remain in force during periods of disruption caused by force majeure.

Definitions: In these regulations, ‘examination’ means any test or coursework contributing to degree credit. References to percentages should be interpreted as follows: ‘up to 30%’ means up to and including 30.49%; ‘more than 30%’ means 30.5% or greater. For the purposes of this regulation, the term Force Majeure refers to any cause of significant disruption to the academic business of the University. This will include, but is not limited to: a major outbreak of disease, natural disaster, fire, act of terrorism, industrial action (including that carried out by University staff).

1. Activation of the Regulation

In circumstances in which the University’s academic business is significantly jeopardised by force majeure, the Steering Committee may take action on behalf of the Senate to activate the regulation relating to managing the impact upon the University’s academic business of force majeure. Such action will be reported to the first subsequent meeting of the Senate.

2. Recording disruption

(a) Academic departments will maintain a record of all usual teaching and other educational activities disrupted as a consequence of force majeure for which Regulation 41 is invoked.

(b) This record will subsequently be used to inform decision-making in relation to student progression and award.

3. Assessment

(a) Heads of academic departments may exercise discretion in the use of extensions for pieces of assessed work to enable students to access appropriate expertise and support following a decision to invoke Regulation 41.

(b) With the approval of Faculty Education Committee Chairs, heads of academic departments may vary the method and timing of assessments following a decision to invoke Regulation 41, with due regard to the impact upon students of any delay in the provision of feedback on subsequent pieces of assessed work or examinations.

(c) Prescribed institutional turnaround times for the provision of feedback on assessed work should normally continue to be observed.

4. Examinations; general provisions

(a) Following a decision to invoke Regulation 41, Heads of academic departments may amend examination papers to reflect material taught to students, whilst ensuring that students will be able to demonstrate achievement of appropriate course-level learning outcomes.

(b) Any such amendments will have due regard to the requirements of any relevant Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies accrediting or recognising specific courses of study.

(c) Any such amendments should ideally be made with the approval of the External Examiner or, in the absence of an External Examiner, in line with departmental procedure and with formal notification to the Vice-Chancellor.

(d) Use of scaling may be contemplated in instances where the marks of a specific group are not aligned with known cohort performance, and the Board has evidence demonstrating this is a direct consequence of force majeure.

(e) Where marks for summative assessments/examinations are not available for a student, Heads of academic departments will consider if other indications of the academic calibre of the student are available which could serve as an appropriate proxy. Such proxies will only be used with individual student consent.

5. First Year Examinations

(a) Where marks are unavailable to the Examiners for up to 30% of the marks in first year undergraduate examinations, wholly or partly as a result of force majeure, the First Year Board of Examiners may take any of the decisions open to it under the Regulations for First Degrees.

(b) Where more than 30% of the marks are unavailable for a candidate, the First Year Board of Examiners may take any of the decisions open to it under the Regulations for First Degrees but will be required to review all of those decisions at its next meeting following summer vacation examinations. This review may result in decisions which mean that candidates may be required to take further tests.

6. Second and Third Year Examinations which are not Final Year Examinations

(a) Where marks are unavailable for a candidate wholly or partly as a result of force majeure the Board of Examiners may take any of the decisions open to it under the Regulation for First Degrees, provided that the examinations for which marks are unavailable in the year in question do not cumulatively contribute more than 30% of the credit towards the final qualification.

(b) Where more than 30% of the marks are unavailable for a candidate, the Board of Examiners may take any of the decisions open to it under the Regulation for First Degrees but will be required to review those decisions at its next meeting when candidates may be required to take further tests.

7. Final Year Examinations

(a) Where marks are unavailable for a candidate for any part of the final year examinations wholly or partly as a result of force majeure and where the missing examination marks in the final year cumulatively contribute more than 30% of the total credit towards the final qualification, the candidate may be eligible for consideration for the award of an unclassified Honours or a Pass Degree provided that the conditions laid down in (10) below are satisfied. The qualification may be awarded either as an unclassified Honours qualification or as a Pass Degree except that there will be no Pass classification for an undergraduate Master’s degree. In the case of a candidate who has followed a Pass degree course in his/her final year the degree may be awarded only as a Pass degree.

(b) Where marks are unavailable for a candidate for any part of the final year examinations wholly or partly as a result of force majeure where the missing examination marks in the final year do not cumulatively contribute more than 30% of the total credit towards the final degree, and the conditions for the award of a degree laid down in (10) below are satisfied, the candidate will be eligible for consideration for the award of a classified Honours degree.

(c) Notwithstanding (a) and (b) above, a Board of Examiners may take any other decision open to it under the Regulation for First Degrees.

8. Taught postgraduate examinations

(a) Where marks are unavailable for a candidate for any part of the assessment requirements for the course wholly or partly as a result of force majeure, and where the missing examination marks cumulatively contribute more than 30% of the total credit towards the final qualification, the candidate will be eligible for consideration for an Award of a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma, where these are offered as exit qualifications for the award.

(b) Where marks are unavailable for a candidate for any part of the final year examinations wholly or partly as a result of force majeure, and where the missing examination marks do not cumulatively contribute more than 30% of the total credit towards the final qualification, the candidate may be eligible for consideration for progression to the dissertation element of the course.

(c) Notwithstanding (a) and (b) above, a Board of Examiners may take any other decision open to it under the Regulation for Higher Degrees.

9. Mitigating Circumstances

(a) Following a decision to invoke Regulation 41, students will be able to bring forward a case for mitigating circumstances on the grounds of force majeure.

(b) Academic departments will treat such cases in line with guidance in relation to other forms of mitigating circumstances.

(c) In the light of departments’ knowledge of the impact of industrial action on specific classes/modules, an academic department may seek to make a claim for mitigating circumstances on behalf of a specific student cohort.

10. Conditions for classification

In order to be considered for classification for Honours under this Regulation or for the award of an unclassified Honours or Pass Degree, examiners have to be satisfied that marks were unavailable wholly or partly as a result of force majeure and in each case decide that the candidate should be dealt with under this rather than any other University regulation.

11. Cases for reconsideration

In all cases where a degree is awarded to a final year candidate without all contributing marks being available wholly or partly as a result of force majeure, candidates will be reconsidered at the next meeting of the Board of Examiners when all available marks will be presented to the Board. The Board of Examiners shall:

- Where a candidate was awarded an unclassified Honours degree, consider classification on the basis of the marks now available to it;

- Where a candidate was awarded a classified Honours degree, reconsider the candidate’s marks to determine whether the candidate should be awarded a higher class;

- Where a candidate was awarded a Pass Degree, reconsider the candidate’s marks to determine whether the candidate should be awarded a classified Honours degree.

Reconsideration of a final year candidate’s marks for classification purposes will not disadvantage the candidate.

12. Quoracy

If it proves impossible for an examination board meeting to fulfil the usual requirements for quoracy wholly or partly as a result of force majeure, the Vice-Chancellor may take action on behalf of the Senate to approve a reduced quorum for that examination board meeting.