Module failure rates of students dropped significantly from 2.78% in Spring 2020 compared to the preceding year’s figure of 5.74%, according to information released to the College Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

The decreased fail rate may be explained by the Covid-19 Assessment Guidelines which were in place during this period. The same FOI response included the following note: “Temporary academic regulations were adopted by the university in Spring 2020 to support students who encountered difficulties due to Covid-19.”

The response also noted that 2,707 temporary (IA) grades were given in the 2019/2020 Spring Semester. Unspecified in the document is whether or not this figure is included in the recorded fail grades. 

Unclear to us as well; is how and why the failure rates appear to have decreased year on year between 2016 and 2020. The fail rate in 2016 stood at 6.66% or 7323 failed modules. This decreased to 6.45% or 7267 failed modules in 2017, followed by 5.98% or 6,767 failed modules in 2018. This begs the question of whether students have improved, assessments have become easier, or if the quality of teaching has risen.

What does seem clear is that the dramatic drop in Spring 2020 is indicative of the Covid-19 Assessment Guidelines, colloquially referred to as the “No Disadvantage Policy”, at work. Despite concern over the policy’s implementation due to it being “advisory and not mandatory”, the figures would suggest that it was taken into account by a large number of lecturers. 

Rosie Roberts-Kuntz – Assistant News Editor