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The University of Southampton
Coronavirus

Teaching, studying and assessment

This page was last updated on: 19/10/2021

Please know our staff are here to support you with your online studies and help you to succeed.

We know students may have questions about this and have included frequently asked questions below.

Teaching and study

Find out more about how we're minimising potential disruption in teaching and study.

How much in-person teaching will there be in academic year 2021-22?

The University of Southampton is planning for full in-person on-campus delivery of teaching and student support. In-person teaching will be supplemented by online provision where we believe that this is in the best interests of our students.

All of our students and staff members are being strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while moving around indoors on our campuses and where they are in close proximity to others indoors.

Can I get a refund on tuition fees?

We are not planning to offer refunds of fees to students, although the University recognises how different this year has been and the difficult choices we have all had to make. 

There are a number of reasons for not taking a blanket position, given we have a well-established and rigorous procedure for any student who wishes to make a complaint. 

The effect of the changes we have made will have personal implications for each student and individual course circumstances which need to be examined. 

We have been led by the need to keep our students and staff safe, and have followed prevailing Government guidance and public health advice. We recognise that the experience of our students over the last year has been very significantly affected by the public health crisis in which we have all been living and working. 

We have been determined to ensure that, despite this, our students have been supported to allow them to meet the learning outcomes of their programmes of study, and to progress through those programmes. 

In the case of finalists, our approach has been to ensure that they complete and graduate with an award that is recognised worldwide as valuable and will continue to hold its value in years to come.  

To continue delivering education to our students, staff across the University have worked tirelessly to ensure access to high-quality teaching, often having to adapt at short notice to a blend of in-person and online education.  

All our programmes of study, and the services which tuition fees fund – including libraries, The Student Hub, the Student Disability and Inclusion Team, the Student Wellbeing Team and the Employability and Careers Services - have been adapted and remain available to students. For these services to continue to be available as best as possible we have invested significantly to increase our digital offering. 

We have invested in a whole range of other  facilities such as increasing and enhancing our online education, temporary buildings to maximise in-person teaching and study where that has been possible, enhanced cleaning regimes and other safety measures. 

We have also invested new money in over £500,000 in online learning grants to students to ensure that those who need support to access their learning get it. In order to deliver this programme of investment in the education of our students we have had to take the decision to operate with a deficit budget this year.

Offering blanket refunds of fees to students would mean that we would have no option but to cut the services that we have been pleased to be able to offer. Any such cut would further affect the student experience directly and immediately. 

In short, we acknowledge that the experience of our students over the last year has been very different from that of students in previous years. However, we have done our utmost to ensure that ‘different’ does not mean, in terms of education, ‘worse’.

If there are cases where particular students feel we have not succeeded sufficiently we would note that there is a route to follow. 

The independence of this process can ultimately lead to engagement with the Office for the Independent Adjudicator, which has  the authority to ask universities to make financial compensation to students.

I am a student going on / already on placement. Can I still take part in my placement?

If you are a student on a placement, we would advise you to contact your School Office.

How is the University supporting disabled students who are impacted by the pandemic?

The Disability and Inclusion Team continues to support students in relation to their disability, including wellbeing and mental health, long term health conditions and Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), such as dyslexia.

Students with a diagnosis are supported through recommended reasonable adjustments, including AERs, as well as ongoing support as appropriate; a range of specialist interventions are also offered, including wellbeing support, counselling and specialist study skills.  All student appointments continue to be offered online (and in person for reasons related to disability or circumstance, where this can be managed safely).

Whilst every effort is made to monitor and support students on an ongoing basis, students who consider themselves to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ are encouraged to contact Enabling Services to review their circumstances and discuss their support needs. Please be aware that you will be asked for a copy of the letter you have received from the government that confirms your clinically vulnerable status, when the team responds to your enquiry.

Any students who are adversely impacted by the pandemic in relation to their studies or wellbeing are encouraged to contact Enabling Services for support, advice and guidance.

Enabling Services continues to collaborate with teams across the University on an ongoing basis to ensure appropriate support is in place for:

  • Students who might be considered at risk to themselves or others
  • Disabled students with complex needs and/or may have previously shielded
  • Students about whom concerns have been raised in relation to their health or well-being.

If you would like to contact Enabling Services, please email enable@soton.ac.uk. To speak to a member of the team, call 023 8059 9599 and press option 3.

I might be delayed in arriving at the University to start my course. What should I do?

The University is delivering its 21/22 programmes in-person and on campus. This method of delivery is the best way to ensure that students have access to the material they need to be successful on their programme. We remain confident that we can deliver our courses safely, with in-person learning being the most effective option for high quality delivery of our programmes. Everyone 16 and over in the UK can now get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. This includes all international students. More information about vaccines in the UK for international students can be found here.

We therefore expect all students to join face-to-face, on-campus activities by 25 October 2021 at the latest.

If you are an individual student and have a legitimate obstacle to attending by 25 October, for example delays in access to visa appointments or flights, you will need to complete this form, as soon as possible and the University will give individual consideration to each request. You should note that the later your proposed arrival date, the less likely it is that the University will be able to grant your request, owing to the amount of in-person and on-campus activity you will have missed.

Please note that general concern about Covid safety in the UK will not be accepted as a legitimate obstacle to attending face-to-face, on-campus activities.

You will need to have a University IT account in order to access the Form. Therefore, if you have not set this up, you should do this now.

I can’t get here on time and my academic programme has told me to consider deferring, what should I do?

Requests to defer will be considered by the Admissions team, in the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. Students facing visa delays 
  2. Students facing travel restrictions 
  3. Students who are personally ill/isolating

Deferral requests should be sent to admissions@soton.ac.uk attaching the correspondence with the University which confirms that we are unable to accommodate a later start to the course.

The Admissions team are unable to accept deferral requests unless the applicant has first completed the Late Arrivals Request form to see if a later course start can be accommodated. 

What will happen with graduation?

Following the postponement of in-person graduation celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to announce that celebrations will take place at St. Mary’s Stadium for graduates from the class of 2020, 2021 and 2022 between Wednesday 20 and Friday 22 July 2022.

We will be running a number of celebrations each day. Details of which celebration you will be invited to will be shared with you via email closer to the time.  
Celebrations will take place pitch-side and will be followed by Faculty Receptions in the grounds of St. Mary's Stadium where graduates will be able to gather with fellow graduates and guests.

You will also have the opportunity to return to your campus on the day of your celebration. 

Thank you to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts on the factors that are important to you when graduating; we have and will continue to keep these at the forefront of our planning and decision-making process.

We have put together some frequently asked questions that may help answer queries you may have. This is all the information that we are able to share at this time but please do regularly check the Graduation webpages linked to above and your email as updates will follow over the coming months. 

Assessments, coursework, special considerations and extensions

Find out how assessment might be affected, and the measures we've put in place to help reduce disruption.

Will the University be operating a ‘No Detriment’ policy for this academic year?

During the second semester of 2019/20, the University had to respond very rapidly to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of the first ‘lockdown’ period. As part of that response, we put in place significant changes to assessment and methods of calculating assessment outcomes for students.

As we had to deviate so rapidly and extensively from what we had planned and from what students had been expecting, we (like many other universities) introduced a number of emergency measures. These included a ‘no detriment’ commitment designed to reassure students that (so long as they engaged with required work) they would not end the 2019-20 academic year in a worse position than that achieved prior to the pandemic.

We have learned a lot since March 2020, and we have designed our teaching and our assessment for this academic year with awareness of the impact of the pandemic uppermost in our minds. Circumstances continue to be challenging for both students and staff, of course, but for this year we have been able to plan with an understanding of those challenges, which means that we hope to avoid taking any disruptive emergency measures.

As a result, we, like other Russell Group universities, do not plan to operate a ‘No Detriment’ policy for this academic year.  However, all Integrated Masters students will have the ‘No Detriment’ position of the 2019-20 academic year applied to that year of study when it comes to calculating their degree outcome.  

I need to ask for an extension for a coursework deadline. How do I do that?

You need to complete an extension request form. You must do this before the original deadline. Your request will be considered, and you will receive the decision via email.

Will my extension be approved?

If you tell us that your request is as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, either directly (eg due to self-isolation, you receiving a positive test etc) or indirectly (less than ideal working conditions, reduced access to resources etc), and you are asking for an extension of up to 14 days, then approval is automatic; you don’t need to wait for confirmation from us.

If you need more than 14 days or your extension is not due to an effect of the pandemic, we still don’t need you to provide supporting evidence, but you do need to have your request approved, so for longer extensions or non-COVID-19 requests, please ask as early as possible before the original deadline. 

In these cases, we also ask for a brief statement where you will need to explain why you are asking for the extension. This is so we can monitor student welfare and consider whether further mitigation is needed for situations we are hearing are affecting a lot of students.

Who can ask for special consideration?

You can ask for special consideration if you are ill, but also if a close family member is ill and that affects your studies.

You can also ask for special consideration for the effect of bereavement – death of a close relative/friend/significant other. However, special consideration doesn’t only cover illness and bereavement. It also covers unexpected situations that you believe may have affected your performance in assessment. 
 
This is not an exhaustive list so if you are not sure whether your circumstances would be eligible for special consideration, you are invited to speak to your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT), your School’s Senior Tutor or your Programme Lead.

You can also obtain impartial and free advice from the Students’ Union Advice Centre.

What if I mostly have coursework assessments?

As with other types of assessments, we know your work may be disrupted by your working environment, by stress and anxiety or by other difficult personal circumstances. You can use the special consideration process to tell us about this as well. It’s not just for final assessments.

Where is the special consideration request form?

Do I need to provide independent evidence of what happened?

In all cases, you should write a short description of how your study and/or assessment has been adversely affected. 
 
In addition, you should provide as much supporting information as you can in order that we can best understand the impact of the circumstances which affect you. Please review the Special Considerations Regulations and Guidance.

What can the Special Consideration Board do to help me?

Special Consideration Boards look at both your circumstances and your marks. If they can identify a negative impact on your academic performance in the affected assessments, they can make recommendations to the Board of Examiners that you should be offered mitigation. The mitigations they can recommend include:

  • waiving a late penalty  
  • extending a deadline for a final assessment  
  • permitting an uncapped referral/resit  
  • permitting an additional referral/resit  
  • disregarding a mark(s) when making a progression recommendation  
  • disregarding a mark(s) when making a classification recommendation  
  • varying the weighting of parts for classification  
  • allowing you to defer your assessment to a later date 

The Special Consideration Board recommendations aim to ensure you are ready for the next level of study and that your final award meets our expectations in terms of academic standards.   Sometimes this means you need to take an assessment again later in the year to make sure you have met all the learning outcomes. 

Read the guidance for more information. 

How will degrees affected by the 2019/20 assessment changes and no detriment policy be classified?

Students who were enrolled during 2019/20 in a Part of their programme that contributes to the classification of their award will continue to receive individual consideration from the Board of Examiners in the year in which they graduate.

How does the University assure academic standards are maintained?

All decisions for finalists and for continuing students made by the Board of Examiners are overseen by our External Examiners to ensure that the classification received meets national expectations. 
 
External Examiners are experienced members of academic staff from other universities with the same expectations for quality and standards and are part of the national process for moderating award classifications and progression decisions. 

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