LSE to release ‘No-disadvantage policy’ based on whole-course grade adaption, extensions, and deferrals

Pro-Director for Education Dilly Fung is set to email students today unveiling a “No-disadvantage” policy. The policy entails four measures: revised marking, adjustments to the extension policy, self-certified deferral, and extended exceptional circumstances. 

LSE has decided not to follow a “no-detriment” policy, despite calls from various student groups within the university. Sources within the university argue that a mechanical no-detriment policy would be “unfair” to some students. More specifically, LSE’s Assessment FAQs say “it is not equitable to students at LSE – as many courses across the School are 100% examination-based, we are unable to apply a blanket algorithm based on prior marks fairly across the whole student body. To try to derive marks for courses based on performance in other courses jeopardises the academic standards of LSE degrees; instead, our approach will ensure we retain the value of LSE degrees.”

This means that unlike in many universities across the UK, students will not have a systematic “safety-net” that would protect them from doing worse than their previous performance at university. However, the university will adjust marks based on previous cohort performance. 

The unveiled policy details that the adjustments made to assessments have made them fairer for this new exam mechanism. 

The University says it will have a “supportive marking process” based on whole-course adaptations: “Once assessments are marked, all marks at the course-level will be compared against previous cohort marks. Normally, this will be for at least the previous 5 years. Where historical data isn’t available, such as with new courses, examiners will use a range of other mechanisms such as formative/summative results from the current cohort in the relevant course and historical course level results from other courses with similar content.” Cohorts that do better than average will not be marked down. 

The School adds that examiners will consider general Covid-19 related disruption such as “Increased stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic; reduced contact with friends and family; lack of access to physical resources (libraries); classes moving to online teaching; move to online and  access to academic advice.”

LSE will also relax evidence requirements for extensions and exceptional circumstances. Students are encouraged to submit exceptional circumstances claims for issues such as “ Been ill with Covid-19; Experienced the exacerbation of an existing health condition, including a mental health condition, due to the pandemic situation; Experienced the death or serious illness of someone close to you; Taken on exceptional caring responsibilities due to COVID-19; Been required to carry out more paid work than usual, as a “key worker” (e.g. in healthcare, retail, delivery); Experienced significant and prolonged problems with access to teaching and learning materials, e.g. due to connectivity, power, or equipment issues.”

Notably, it appears that students will be awarded exceptional circumstances if they also show why they were unable to defer to the In Year Resit Period (IRDAP). 

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