A message from Professor Graham Virgo, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) to students about mitigation measures for examinations and assessments 2020-21.

Dear students

Our plans for examinations and assessments: this information applies to undergraduate students and postgraduate students on taught courses

I last wrote to you on 17 January saying that we were working on a package of mitigation measures which will operate as a safety net to safeguard student achievements from the impact of the pandemic. I know that students are naturally concerned about examination and assessment and I want to give you some details about our plans.

Following consultation, including with student representatives, the University has agreed the following package of measures:

  1. A system of cohort equity, which will ensure that the distribution of classes for this year is no less favourable than the average class distribution in the three years before the pandemic.
  2.  Automatic progression for first and second year Tripos students who take all of their required assessments, except for students who need to pass professional qualifications.
  3. Faculties and Departments will be able to give extensions of up to 14 days to essay/dissertation deadlines where this is appropriate. Students will not be expected to provide medical evidence for applications for short-term extensions made on medical grounds. Students should consider the knock-on effect an extension may have on preparation for other assessments.
  4. Students submitting dissertations or coursework may choose to include an impact statement with their work detailing how the lockdown has prevented them from accessing materials or facilities for their research.
  5. Faculties and Departments will consider, in consultation with student representatives, possible adaptations to examination or coursework requirements. If any changes are made these will be communicated to their students as soon as possible and by the end of Term at the latest.

Further details have been posted at the following link: https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/students/guidance-for-all-students/assessment-2020-21/assessment-mitigation-2020-21

In addition to the above special arrangements for this year, a number of measures continue to be available to support students who consider that their performance in examinations and coursework has been adversely affected, either by the pandemic or other issues. Information on these existing measures can be found here: https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/mitigation  

Your Faculty and Department will be reviewing the arrangements for your exams in the coming weeks and you should expect to hear from your Faculty or Department about this before the end of this term.

I hope these measures will help to ease concerns about assessments this academic year, and provide reassurance that you will be assessed fairly, taking into account disruption brought about by the pandemic.   If you have other questions or concerns, you should contact your Tutor or your Director of Studies or your course director. 

As I said in my email of 17 January, while your studies and examinations are of course really important, it is even more important that you take care of yourself and seek help if you need it. There are many people in the Colleges and the University who are able to help and advise you, so do please reach out if you need support. Information on University services is available on this page: https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/stay-safe-cambridge-uni/help-and-support and your College remains there for you, even if you are not yourself in Cambridge. Later today you will receive also an email providing new information about applying for hardship funding. If you feel you need additional financial support, I encourage you to read this carefully and note the application deadlines.

The continued lockdown is hard on everybody, so, wherever you are, please make sure that you look after yourself.

Best wishes, and take care.


Professor Graham Virgo

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)