The University has set out a safety net package of measures to ensure that our support is responsive to the impact of Covid-19. Some of those measures will apply to some students facing particularly difficult circumstances, whereas others apply universally to all students at a particular level of student, including our newly introduced ‘graduation benchmark’.
Why are we introducing a graduation benchmark?
The Covid-19 pandemic has required us to change how we teach and assess students in Term 3.
We know that for many students, this will be first time completing one or more of the new assessment methods we are now using in place of traditional exams.
We also acknowledge that the usual support provided by staff ahead of exams, or the alternative online methods we are now using, will look and feel different when delivered online.
In response, we have decided it is necessary to provide additional reassurance that those students who fully engage in these new assessment methods will not be disadvantaged by the change to using these methods.
What is the graduation benchmark?
Put simply, it is a way of ensuring that your final degree classification (e.g. first class, upper second class, lower second class) is not impacted by new assessments submitted after the Covid-19 pandemic most seriously impacted the UK at the end of Term 2.
More specifically, the graduation benchmark is a calculation that is undertaken at the end of your degree. We will the calculate your overall final year average mark and degree classification as usual at the end of your final year, taking into account the actual marks from all your summative assessments in all years that count towards your degree classification (including those in Term 3 of your intermediate year (2019/20).
We will also undertake a calculation where we remove these Term 3 marks from the degree calculation by working out a weighted average of all summative assessments taken in your intermediate year up to 13 March 2020 and using that weighted average in your overall degree calculation.
We will use whichever of the two calculations is higher (the graduation benchmark or the usual calculation of all marks) to determine the final classification of your degree.
This means that where you are eligible for the graduation benchmark (see Eligibility below), your degree classification cannot now go down based on your Term 3 assessments in your interim year (i.e. there is ‘no detriment’).
Please take the time to carefully read and digest the detailed explanation below of how the graduation benchmark will be calculated and who will be eligible to use it. There is a hypothetical example later in the text to help explain this principle.
We are putting this new, exceptional mechanism in place to provide reassurance to students who do their best to perform well in Term 3 assessments but are genuinely impacted by the change to different assessment methods at short notice. We will therefore confirm the following before calculating and using your graduate benchmark:
- You have passed enough modules to achieve the required amount of credit for your degree. This is a standard requirement for achieving a Warwick degree, which still applies and is detailed here.
- You have not been found guilty of cheating or plagiarism in your intermediate year Term 3 assessments in 2019/20.
If you meet these two eligibility criteria, we will automatically calculate your graduate benchmark at your final year exam board. You do not need to apply for the graduate benchmark to be taken into account.
Of course, in these volatile times if the international or UK situation changes considerably, either due to Covid-19 or some other serious disruption to University teaching, it may be necessary to modify and strengthen the graduation benchmark to provide further mitigation.
How will the graduation benchmark be calculated?
For a student on a three-year degree where the second year was affected by Covid-19, and where both years count equally towards the overall degree classification, the graduation benchmark for the student would be calculated as follows:
*weighted average calculated for work submitted by 13/3/201
Example of two year weighted assessment
We will consider a student who was in their intermediate year in the 2019/20 academic year and where both the intermediate mark (Year 2, 2019/20) and final year mark (Year 3, 2020/21) are equally weighted in the final degree calculation, (weighting of Year 2 = 50% and weighting of Year 3 = 50%).
In 2019/20, the student obtained 60% overall in their intermediate year (Year 2) counting all assessments including those in Term 3 of 2019/20. They had taken 50% (% of assessments taken in year) by 13 March 2020 and the weighted average of these assessments was 65% (Yr2 average *) . In their final year (2021/22) they obtain an average mark for Year 3 of 58% (Yr3 average).
The ‘normal’ degree calculation using the full marks obtained in Year 2 (60%) would be:
The graduation benchmark is then calculated (to 1 decimal place):
In this case the graduation benchmark was higher than the actual marks and the exam board use this higher figure to determine the degree classification. In this example, the lower marks in Term 3 in the intermediate year have been discarded and the degree reweighted accordingly.
Example of three year weighted assessment
We will consider a student who was in their intermediate year in the 2019/20 academic year and where the years of their degree are weighted Year 1 (10%), Year 2 (30%), and Year 3 (60%) in the final degree calculation. In Year 1 the student obtained a year average of 64%.
In 2019/20, the student obtained 55% overall in their intermediate year (Year 2) counting all assessments including those in Term 3 of 2019/20. They had taken 33.3% of the assessments taken in the year (0.333 of the year) by 13 March 2020 and the weighted average of these assessments was 65% (Yr2 average*). In this case the student did not do so well in the Term 3 assessments in 2019/20 than they had done up to 13 March 2020. In their final year (2021/22) they obtain an average mark for Year 3 of 76% (Yr3 average).
The ‘normal’ degree calculation using the full marks obtained in Year 2 (55%) would be:
The graduation benchmark is calculated to one decimal place:
When the graduation benchmark will be used
The final year exam board will calculate your degree outcome using your actual marks obtained throughout your degree, including marks from assessments taken in Term 3 2019/20.
If the calculation provides a final degree mark that is higher than your calculated graduation benchmark then you will be classified based upon this higher figure.
If after all other aspects of the safety net have been considered and it appears that your final degree mark will be lower than your calculated graduation benchmark then the exam board will classify your degree based upon the graduation benchmark figure.
Is it possible to know my graduation benchmark now?
As the calculation includes the marks from your final year, we will only be able to calculate your graduation benchmark at the end of your final year. We will do this automatically at the same time as we calculate your final degree mark in the usual way so that we can use the higher of the two results to classify your degree.
What will appear on my degree certificate and HEAR?
Degree certificates simply state your name, your degree and the classification (e.g. First Class). Only the final classification will appear on the certificate, regardless of whether it is based on the usual calculation or the graduation benchmark.
The actual marks awarded for each module will be recorded in your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) along with the final degree classification awarded.