University announces all 2020-21 exams will take place online

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Durham University has today announced in an email to all students that all examinations for the 2020/21 academic year will take place online.

Professor Alan Houston, Vice-Provost (Education), explained the decision by saying the University sought to provide “clarity and certainty for students and staff alike, and to avoid the need to make the late changes to assessment that we saw in 2019/20.”

For most examinations, a physical paper will be replaced with online exams of the same length, and students will be able to submit their completed exams within a 24-hour window. However, variations may be agreed for some examinations, which will be communicated to students on a departmental level in advance of Easter term.

The University also repeated that they will use ‘Safety Net’ measures “to ensure that students are not disadvantaged during the pandemic.”

These measures include Group Mitigation procedures, where “departments will consider marks or all assessments undertaken during 2020/21, and may scale or take other action should marks be out of line with previous years.”

As stated by Sarah McAllister, Durham Students’ Union’s (DSU) Postgraduate Academic Officer at the DSU’s Assembly on 26 November, these will not amount to the ‘no-detriment’ policy used last year.

The email also pointed to the Serious Adverse Circumstances (SAC) system, which will allow students to raise exceptional individual circumstances which they feel impacted their ability to undertake assessments during the exam period.

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