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COVID-19 Access to HE

On 3 April, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) announced that Students who planned to complete their Access to HE Diploma by 31 July 2020 would now receive calculated grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. The standard QAA grading scheme applies for all assessments with a planned submission date of 20 March or before.

In line with current DfE guidance, teaching and learning should continue in some form wherever possible.

 

It is important that all Access to HE students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition to higher education; making use of the resources prepared by Access to HE tutors is one way to achieve this. While understanding the many challenges facing Access to HE students during these difficult times, providers should support their students to engage with virtual teaching and tutorials, where possible, to maximise their learning.

To view the most up to date statement from QAA, please click here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/access-to-he/covid-19-support-and-information-Access

It is important that all Access to HE students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition to higher education; making use of the resources prepared by Access to HE tutors is one way to achieve this. While understanding the many challenges facing Access to HE students during these difficult times, students should be encouraged to engage with virtual teaching and tutorials, where possible, to maximise their learning.

However, students do not need to submit assignments to inform grades.

All Access to HE providers will estimate grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. The calculated grade will take account of tutors’ assessment of the likely grade, as well as other factors such as prior attainment on course.

To view the most up to date statement from QAA, please click here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/access-to-he/covid-19-support-and-information-Access

Each Access to HE provider will estimate grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. Grades will take account of tutors’ assessment of the likely grade, as well as other factors such as prior attainment on course.

If students have completed/ are completing assignments set before 20 March 2020 and want to submit their work, they should be allowed to do so and for it to be assessed by the tutor. Students unable to submit assignments due to COVID-19 must not be disadvantaged by this arrangement and estimated grades should be based on appropriate evidence and judgements.

Estimated assessment grades submitted to Open Awards must be a fair, reasonable and considered judgement of the most likely grades a student would have normally achieved. Judgements can only be made on the evidence that is available.

To view the most up to date statement from QAA, please click here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/access-to-he/covid-19-support-and-information-Access

There is no requirement for students to complete assessments to inform estimated assessment grades.

Students are encouraged to continue learning in order to be as well prepared as they can be for their transition to higher education and providers should use virtual teaching methods where possible. This may involve setting assessments for students to complete as part of their learning processes. These assignments will not be graded although they may be used with other evidence to help determine estimated assessment grades.

To view the most up to date statement from QAA, please click here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/access-to-he/covid-19-support-and-information-Access

Graded units will be awarded at pass, merit, distinction or not achieved. Ungraded units will be awarded as achieved or not achieved.

Judgements must be a holistic professional judgement, balancing the different sources of evidence available to a tutor. They will be objective and will only take account of evidence about student performance.

Estimated assessment grades will be based on a range of evidence including prior attainment on course; formative assessments (assessment for learning); past course profiles and any other records of student performance over the course of study.

Estimated assessment grades must be a fair, reasonable and considered judgement of the most likely grades a student would have normally achieved if they had taken the assessments.

All records of prior attainment (unit and assessment grades, along with grade indicators) must be submitted to Open Awards no later than 8th May 2020. If work needs to be externally moderated, this needs to be submitted by 24th April 2020.

All estimated grades (unit and assessment grades, along with grade indicators) must be submitted to Open Awards no later than 5th June 2020 using a standard grade template to be supplied by QAA.

The use of estimated grades applies to all Access to HE students with planned completion dates by 31 July 2020. It does not apply to Access to HE students with planned completion dates after 31 July 2020, nor does it apply to students that have withdrawn from their Access to HE Diploma.

No. A senior course manager must sign-off all tutors’ estimated grades after they have been internally verified. Open Awards will review a sample of evidence used to estimate grades as part of external moderation and standardisation before grades are determined.

You can keep up to date with QAA via their statement for students here: https://www.accesstohe.ac.uk/news-events/support-and-information-covid-19/access-to-he-students

You can also keep up to date with guidance from UCAS on their website here: https://www.ucas.com/coronavirus-updates-hub

Following the government’s announcement stating ‘universities in England should stop making unconditional offers or amending existing offers to students for up to two weeks’ UCAS has extended May’s decision and reply deadlines for undergraduate applications by two weeks.

These dates have been updated in Track, and applicants have been emailed to let them know if their deadlines have changed.

Learners can continue to follow the progress of their application in Track.

No. There may be some temptation to stop studying if the learner has an agreed progression route, but Open Awards discourage dropping out. The Access to HE Diploma most likely linked to the area of study for the chosen undergraduate course so all learning and assessment completed now will place the learner in good stead for their progression into HE.

We are aware that some universities have changed offers to unconditional, but Michelle Donelan (Universities Minister) stated on 23/03/2020 that universities should act to maintain the stability of the university admissions system to ensure students’ best interests are safeguarded. They are being asked not to change any offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements to maintain stability.

If a centre is concerned about whether they can deliver units in the current climate, they should contact their Lead Quality Reviewer (LQR) to discuss appropriate alternatives.

If your Lead Quality Reviewer agrees that the unit cannot be delivered effectively, you would need to find an alternative unit in the relevant pathway that could be achieved. We will be able to change units in the Diploma in these circumstances. Please note that all learners on the course run will need to change to the same amended unit. Open Awards will advise QAA and UCAS of unit changes and the number of learners affected to support the results process.

QAA is currently working with Open Awards and other organisations to consider a model that will ensure fairness for learners and that quality and standards of the qualification can be maintained.

On 03/04/2020, QAA released a statement which confirms that Access to HE Diplomas for all students due to complete their Access to HE studies by 31 July this year, will be graded based on:

· Actual grades from assessments with submission dates up to and including 20 March 2020

and

· Calculated grades for all remaining assessments that have submission dates after 20 March 2020.

To view the most up to date statement from QAA, please click here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/access-to-he/covid-19-support-and-information-Access

QAA will be producing guidance on how to calculate grades. This will be shared with Access to HE providers as soon as it is made available.

Each instance is likely to be very different so Open Awards will manage this on a case by case basis. If you are experiencing this issue please contact your LQR to discuss alternative arrangements. We will work with you to mitigate any risk to learners’ study.

If a centre is unable to provide suitable teaching and delivery materials, they must contact Open Awards to discuss alternative arrangements. Centres will need to draw on their existing contingency plans to minimise the impact on teaching and delivery. If teaching materials cannot be developed then the centre may need to apply for special considerations for all their learners.

It is important that assessed and internally quality assured work submitted by 20th March 2020 is available for Open Awards to moderate in order to confirm actual grades for those units. If we are not able to confirm actual grades, we will not be able to accept estimations and will not be able to award Access to HE Diplomas.

Access to HE providers must make every effort to make student work available to their Pathway Moderators to avoid disadvantaging their students.

In order to comply with government guidelines on social distancing, we are not undertaking any visits to centre sites. However, we do have a regulatory requirement to moderate learner work for assignments with a submission deadline no later than 20th March 2020.

Wherever possible, we will be encouraging all centres to use electronic systems of learner evidence. If you use an online system such as Turnitin or Moodle we will need access to review evidence of marked (and IQAd) learner work

If your centre does not use such online tools, we have developed a SharePoint site for you to upload electronic evidence (please contact your LQR for access to this). Failing this, we will continue to accept hard copies of learner work posted to the Open Awards office. Please note that the moderation of hard copies posted to Open Awards may be subject to a delay while all our staff are working remotely.

Further to QAA’s statement to providers on 03/04/2020, Open Awards has contacted all Access to HE Administrators. If you have any further questions, please contact your Lead Quality Reviewer or quality@openawards.org.uk

The latest statement from QAA can be viewed here

We know that there are many, many Access to HE learners that are feeling left out on a limb at the moment as we wait for definitive answers to questions regarding the Access to HE Diplomas.

Open Awards have been working closely with providers and regulators over the last few weeks to try and get you the answers you need but this is still work in progress. We appreciate that these are uncertain times and that many of you have conflicting priorities as you continue to look after your family and household; make alternative arrangements for employment; juggle caring responsibilities; and continue to study remotely from your Access to HE provider. Please be assured that we at Open Awards are working hard to provide the assurances you need that you will not be adversely affected by COVID-19 in relation to your Access to HE Diplomas.

Access to HE Diplomas are regulated by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). All awarding organisations that offer Access to HE Diplomas (Access Validating Agencies) are working with QAA to ensure that there is a consistent response for all students regardless of where or what you are studying. We will ensure that your college/provider is kept up to date so that they, in turn, can keep you up to date on what this means for you. 

Your college/provider will be contingency planning for any necessary changes to the delivery and assessment arrangements for your programme of study. They will be best placed to answer specific questions relating to teaching and assessments.

Answers to questions we have received from learners so far can be found on this FAQ page. We are updating this page of our website daily and continue to speak to our providers to keep them updated on any changes.

All work submitted on or before 20th March 2020 should be assessed and internally verified as per the standard Access to HE grading scheme. Developmental feedback should be given to students as normal.

Under normal grading rules, the provider would normally set a second deadline to allow the student to resubmit to cover the missing criteria only. However, under the extraordinary grading scheme students should not be expected to complete any summative assessments with submission dates after 20th March 2020. Therefore, the student should not be expected to resubmit any additional work after 20th March 2020. In such cases, the provider must estimate grades for this student using available evidence to make a realistic judgement of the most likely grades the student would have achieved if they had resubmitted.

If a student hands work in late without a good reason, it can be marked against the learning outcomes and assessment criteria but will be capped at a pass. Late submissions include:

• Work handed in later than the first submission deadline without an agreed extension

• Work handed in after an agreed extension date

• Work handed in later than a resubmission deadline

• Incomplete work (if you have a clear policy relating to this eventuality) If a late submission does not meet the learning outcomes there is no opportunity for resubmission except via the referrals process.

If the student was unable to meet the submission deadline of 20th March or before, due to circumstances outside of their control (whether or not related to COVID-19), the provider should consider an application for special considerations. If you wish to apply for special considerations please contact your LQR.

The provider should find out why the student missed the deadline and this reason would need to be shared with Open Awards. If the student was unable to meet the submission deadline due to circumstances outside of their control (whether or not related to COVID-19) before 20th March 2020, the provider should consider an application for special considerations. 

If there is no reason for why the student missed the deadline for a submission due in by 20th March 2020, the assessment would normally be capped at a pass once submitted.

However, as the student is no longer required to submit assessments after 20th March 2020, the tutor can only refer to evidence presented to them when judging the ‘likely’ grade of that student if they had handed it in after the due date. In this case, the tutor would need to consider, based on the evidence presented, whether the student would have met the learning outcomes. If yes, then what would be the likely grade for a late submission?