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University of Sydney to move to ‘no-disadvantage’ assessment system

Measures include a COVID-adjusted WAM on students' final transcript.

Photo: The University of Sydney

In an email sent to students by Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence this afternoon, the University has announced that it will move to a ‘no-disadvantage’ assessment system for Semester 1, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. 

Measures implemented under this system include adjustments to special consideration requirements and the use of discontinued and other grades for those students who have been adversely affected by the epidemic. In addition to the existing Weighted Average Mark (WAM) system, the University has also offered to include a COVID-adjusted WAM in current students’ final academic transcript that excludes their Semester 1, 2020 results from the calculation.

This decision comes as a result of pressure from the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and various student groups in recent weeks for an alternative academic arrangement for those negatively impacted by the current situation.

“We have been fighting hard for this specific remedy for the past week, and for broader changes to grading and assessment for the past few months. This announcement is undoubtedly a victory for the SRC, and the entire student body, whose extensive grassroots actions indicated the magnitude of dissatisfaction and urgent need for solutions,” commented SRC President Liam Donohoe.

“There is still significant work to be done, however. We need to clarify whether students can waive their original WAM, and establish remedies for students who fail (for instance, omission of fail results from transcripts and “result incomplete” alternatives). We will also continue to work on improvements to special considerations, Discontinue without failure (DC) deadlines and course refunds.”

Although the announcement may ease some pressure on the wider student body, the University has yet to respond to the demands of research students who have been unable to access the necessary resources or undertake the appropriate fieldwork as a result of campus closure and social distancing.

More to come.

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