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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and information

This page is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice.

 

QAA is in close contact with the Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to ensure we are doing everything possible to support Access to HE students during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. You can find contact details for the AVAs on our website.

 

If you have any further questions or concerns relating to COVID-19, you can email the QAA Access to HE Team at AHE@qaa.ac.uk.

 

Will I receive calculated grades?

There will be no provision for the issue of estimated assessment grades (calculated grades) this academic year. The award of your Access to HE Diploma will be made only on the work you complete during your course of study.


Why can I not receive calculated grades?

This year the arrangements for the award of Access to HE Diplomas were designed to support students while studying during the pandemic. We recognise that for many students, the additional pressures of work, caring responsibilities or illness may make study even more challenging and, in some cases, impossible at the present time. However, we have confidence that there are sufficient measures in place to ensure that these extenuating circumstances can be dealt with under the current arrangements to support students through their studies.


Last academic year, students were eligible for estimated grades if they were due to complete by 31 July 2020. In addition, it was our expectation that such students will have completed a minimum of 50% of planned assessed work by 20 March 2020. Estimated assessment grades were applied to all remaining assessments with a planned submission date after 20 March 2020. These arrangements were developed to ensure students who were due to complete their studies by 31 July 2020 received fair and robust grades, based on the circumstances that students faced in March 2020.


Not all students received estimated assessment grades last academic year. Students who were not due to complete their Diplomas by 31 July 2020 were not eligible for estimated assessment grades. Under certain circumstances, this also included some students who had not completed a minimum of 50% of planned assessed work by 20 March 2020.


At this stage in the year there is not sufficient evidence to support the estimation of grades.


We want to ensure that you have every opportunity to continue your studies (acquire knowledge and apply that knowledge), so that you are prepared as far as it is possible to transition into higher education or other progression routes for higher study. We are confident that the current arrangements based on current circumstances will allow for this.


I am finding it difficult to study where lessons, materials and/or assessments have been adapted and am worried it will affect my grades and completing the Diploma, what should I do?

You should contact your course provider if you are concerned about any adaptations made to your course in year. You may be able to get access to additional support or tools to help you study.


Providers can adapt assessments and delivery, where necessary and appropriate, to:

  • support teaching and learning, and assist in mitigating any possible effects of previous or future disruptions to teaching, learning and assessment relating to the pandemic
  • make assessments as manageable and flexible as possible, for example, to address the impact of compliance with social distancing or other public health guidance
  • safeguard against any future disruptions relating to the pandemic, such as local lockdowns or closure of facilities.

To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by any adaptations, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied.


I am finding it difficult to study because the additional support I received in college to help with my specific learning needs is not available now I am working from home, and I am worried it will affect my grades and completing the Diploma, what should I do?

You should contact your course provider if you are concerned about any adaptations made to your course in year, especially where you previously had additional support, to discuss what additional support or tools are available to help you.


Through quality assurance processes, moderators may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments - upwards or downwards accordingly - to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged as the result of the extenuating circumstances identified.


If there is a further lockdown (local or national) and I feel the work I produce during the lockdown does not reflect my previous performance, what do I do?

If you feel that the work produced during a local or national lockdown does not reflect your previous performance, please speak to your provider. Providers have arrangements in place to deal with such extenuating circumstances.


To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by any adaptations, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied. Through these quality assurance processes moderators may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments - upwards or downwards accordingly - to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged as the result of the extenuating circumstances identified.


I am a continuing student who started my course before 1 August 2020. What do I do if I feel the work I produced during the national lockdown (March to July 2020) does not reflect my current or previous performance?

If you feel that the work produced during the national lockdown does not reflect your current or previous performance, please speak to your provider. Providers have arrangements in place to deal with such extenuating circumstances.


To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by issues relating to the national lockdown, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied. Through these quality assurance processes moderators may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments - upwards or downwards accordingly - to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged as the result of the extenuating circumstances identified.


I am a continuing student who started my course before 1 August 2020 and I was unable to study and submit assessments during the national lockdown (March to July 2020). What should I do?

If you were unable to study and complete your assessments during national lockdown, please talk to your course provider about the best way to continue.


Options include:

  • making an application for extenuating circumstances
  • applying for an extension to assessment submission dates
  • a short pause* of less than four weeks - for example, if you are in self-isolation - this will not necessarily affect the planned end date of your course
  • a formal break or suspension in learning.

If your course is not publicly funded, your course provider will be able to discuss other options that may be available to you.


You should contact your course provider to agree the appropriate steps taken that will be based on both you and your course provider's circumstances.


* relates to publicly funded provision in England


I am a continuing student who started my course before 1 August 2020 and my provider rescheduled my assessments to be submitted at a later date because of the national lockdown (March to July 2020). What do I do if I feel my performance is affected by these changes?

If the work was rescheduled and the volume of work is unmanageable, your provider will be able to advise you about the options available to you, for example, making an application for extenuating circumstances. To make sure that grades are fair and not unduly affected by the rescheduling of your assessments, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied. Through these quality assurance processes moderators may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments - upwards or downwards accordingly - to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged as the result of the extenuating circumstances identified.


If there is a further lockdown which means I am unable to study because I am a key worker/carer or now have additional commitments, what should I do?

Access to HE Diplomas have been designed to be responsive to changes in circumstances, for example, during a period of illness. If you are unable to study, please talk to your course provider about the best way to continue with your Diploma.

  • making an application for extenuating circumstances
  • applying for an extension to assessment submission dates
  • a short pause* of less than four weeks - for example, if you are in self-isolation - this will not necessarily affect the planned end date of your course
  • a formal break or suspension in learning.

If your course is not publicly funded, your course provider will be able to discuss other options that may be available to you.


You should contact your course provider to agree the appropriate steps taken that will be based on both you and your course provider's circumstances.


* relates to publicly funded provision in England


Can I apply for extenuating circumstances?

Yes. Access to HE providers and AVAs already have in place procedures to allow you to identify extenuating circumstances that may affect your academic performance, should the current situation make studying difficult.


To discuss your specific circumstances, please speak directly to your course tutor.


What constitutes extenuating circumstances?

Extenuating circumstances are external to study on your course. These are circumstances that you believe have affected your performance in assessment (or ability to study or engagement with your programme of study) and are usually either unforeseen or unpreventable and outside of your immediate control.


Providers have made adjustments to many aspects of teaching and assessment to account for the impact of the pandemic but if your studies have been affected particularly badly it is worth following the extenuating circumstances process. Please contact your provider to discuss the process of application.


How do I apply for extenuating circumstances?

Please contact your course tutor who will explain how to apply.


What types of adaptations have been made?

Please contact your course tutor who will explain how your course has been adapted and may be adapted in the future.

  • Assessment submission dates are set by course providers. If you are not able to meet the submission date, let your course provider know and request an extension. Records of extensions granted will be held by course providers as part of their normal record keeping processes. This information will not normally be shared with universities.
  • Providers can adapt assessments, delivery and/or changes to units delivered, where necessary and appropriate, to:
    • support teaching and learning, and assist in mitigating any possible effects of previous or future disruptions to teaching, learning and assessment relating to the pandemic
    • make assessments as manageable and flexible as possible, for example, to address the impact of compliance with social distancing or other public health guidance
    • safeguard against any future disruptions relating to the pandemic, such as local lockdowns or closure of facilities.
  • It may mean that any exams planned will be replaced by a different type of assessment under the current arrangements.

Tutors will follow the QAA grading scheme when marking your assignments. Quality assurance processes will take into account extenuating circumstances that may affect your performance. Through these quality assurance processes moderators may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments - upwards or downwards accordingly - to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged as the result of the extenuating circumstances identified.


Can I apply for an extension to an assessment submission deadline?

Yes. Access to HE providers and AVAs already have procedures in place to allow you to apply for an extension, should the current situation make studying difficult.


To discuss your specific circumstances, please speak directly to your course tutor.


How do I apply for an extension to an assessment submission deadline?

Please contact your course tutor who will explain how to apply.


Can I apply for a break in learning?

Yes. Access to HE providers and AVAs already have procedures in place to allow you to take a break in learning should the current situation make studying difficult. You and your course provider can agree to suspend learning while you take a break. This allows you to continue later with the same eligibility that applied when you first started their learning.


Publicly-funded courses in England and Wales already have provision for 'breaks/suspension in learning' or for a range of circumstances.


Guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (for providers in England) and Welsh Government (for providers in Wales) has information about the options available.


To discuss your specific circumstances, please speak directly to your course tutor.


How do I apply for a break in learning?

Please contact your course provider who will explain how to apply.


I am unable to access the online lessons and materials, what should I do?

If you are unable to access online lessons and materials, you should contact your course provider.


I have concerns about the support available to me, what should I do?

If you have concerns about the delivery of your course you should follow your course provider’s complaints process in the first instance. Details of this will be on their website and should be included in your student handbook. You can contact the Access Validating Agency that will issue your Diploma if you are still not satisfied with the outcomes of the complaint investigation.


I feel my well-being and mental health are being affected, what should I do?

We recognise the challenges faced by adult students under the COVID-19 restrictions and want to assure you that all comments, views and feedback received on course experiences are considered as part of our continual assessment of the arrangements.


Colleges have made adjustments to many aspects of teaching and assessment to account for the impact of the pandemic but if your studies have been affected it is worth following the extenuating circumstances process that your course provider has in place. The course provider will have support mechanisms in place to help you - contact your provider to find out more about student support services.


Why has there been no reduction to the content of the course?

Access to HE Diplomas are credit-based qualifications. In order for the Diploma to be awarded all credits must be achieved. It is not possible to reduce the number of credits required to achieve the Diploma.


Under the arrangements for the award of the Diploma in 2020-21 your provider will have been able to adapt assessments, the delivery of the course, and/or make changes to units delivered, where necessary and appropriate, to make assessments more manageable and flexible. Such adaptations may include to the volume of work.


How will you ensure my grades will be fair?

To make sure that grades are fair, AVAs and providers will ensure that effective arrangements for quality assurance will be applied. Your grades go through a process of internal moderation, external moderation and standardisation. These quality assurance processes will take into account any extenuating circumstances identified. As part of the moderation process AVAs may adjust the assessment grades of some assessments upwards or downwards accordingly to ensure that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged.


Can I appeal my grades?

Your provider will have processes in place to support you in appealing your grades. Please speak to your course tutor.


I am worried about my progression to university, what should I do?

If you have any concerns about your progression to university, please speak to your course provider and the universities you have applied to.


Our priority is to support students to meet the challenges to learning and delivery presented by COVID-19 and ensure that all Access to HE students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition to higher education and minimise lost learning as far as possible.


The current arrangements will ensure as far as possible, that quality, standards and student outcomes can be maintained.


When do I get my results?

Confirmed results will be released to students after the Final Awards Board. The results will be released to you no later than the deadline for results to be uploaded to UCAS (it is estimated this will be around 26 July 2021). Please speak to your provider regarding the specific date you will receive your results.


I wasn't due to finish my Diploma until after 31 July 2021, but my circumstances have changed which means I have more time to study - can I finish earlier?

You should speak to your course provider to find out if it is possible for you to complete earlier. In some cases, it may be possible to complete some units of study earlier than planned which may mean you can complete your Diploma before your original end date.


I am not due to complete my studies until after 31 July 2021. What are the arrangements for the award and assessment of the Access to HE Diploma for me?

This year, the current guidance also applies to all students due to complete after 31 July 2021. Students and providers will be supported if advice from DfE or Public Health England means that adaptations need to be continued beyond 31 July 2021.

 

Why are the arrangements designed as they are?

 

The arrangements for the award of the Access to HE Diploma in 2020-21 were designed to ensure that students studying an Access to HE Diploma during the pandemic had every opportunity to be assessed and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to facilitate their progression into HE.

 

The Access to HE Diploma is not only intended to demonstrate that a student has achieved the necessary academic qualification to progress into higher education, but it is also designed to prepare students fully for their HE experience. Giving students every opportunity to be assessed will help them build confidence that they have the necessary tools to succeed. It will also provide assurance to higher education providers that a student is prepared for higher education. Many Access to HE students have been out of study for several years, and the teaching and learning model used on the Diploma is designed to provide them with the best possible foundation for the discipline of higher education study.

 

This is why it is important that teaching and assessment continue whenever possible. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic it is possible that in some exceptional circumstances not all assessments will be able to take place. For students, the additional pressures of work, caring responsibilities or illness may affect their ability to engage with teaching, learning and assessment. For providers, the current circumstances may make the delivery and/or assessment of the Diploma challenging. To ensure fairness, tutors can adapt assessments where these situations arise. The key points are listed below.

  1. Where all assessments for the qualification have taken place as normal or in an adapted form, they will determine the student’s level of attainment.
  2. To ensure grades are fair and robust, effective quality assurance arrangements will be applied. These can take account of extenuating circumstances that may have affected student performance in assessment. Based on evidence presented, a moderator may adjust grades either upwards or downwards to ensure no student is advantaged or disadvantaged in relation to their peers.
  3. In those exceptional cases where a student cannot be assessed, the student may still be awarded unit(s) that make up the Diploma, through extenuation. The tutor/provider will draw upon either further adaptations to assessments or alternate lines of evidence to satisfy the award of unit.

We believe that the approach being taken is fair and ensures students have the best preparation possible to help them transition into higher education.

 

How are you ensuring parity between Access to HE students and A level students?

 

The arrangements for the award of the Access to HE Diploma provide as much parity as we are able to give within the very different cohorts of students studying courses which are intrinsically very different. Our priority is to ensure parity of outcomes for all students.  

 

There are necessary differences in the arrangements between Access to HE Diplomas and other level 3 qualifications that facilitate progression to HE. These differences recognise the variations in the qualifications themselves and the students that study them. 

 

The Access to HE Diploma is: 

  • a credit-based qualification designed for adults wishing to enter higher education. Therefore, in order to achieve the award of the Diploma the student must complete the units that make up the programme of study
  • usually completed by the majority of students over the course of one academic year
  • assessed through continuous assessment. This means students complete assessments throughout their course of study
  • not subject to an overall grade. Access to HE students receive a grade transcript which provides a breakdown of the grades achieved over their course of study.

 

The Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) that was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic allows for providers to adapt the course to meet the needs of students to give them the best opportunity to complete. Adaptations are proposed at provider level because they know their students best and the local issues around the pandemic, and courses can be designed to meet those needs.

 

The ERF has also been designed to allow for adaptations to be made according to students’ personal circumstances. To ensure grades are fair and robust, effective quality assurance arrangements will be applied. These can take account of extenuating circumstances that may have affected student performance in assessment. Based on the evidence presented, a moderator may adjust grades either upwards or downwards to ensure no student is advantaged or disadvantaged in relation to their peers.

 

Why can’t the credit volume be reduced?

 

The Diploma is a credit-based award and, in order for the Diploma to be awarded, evidence must therefore be presented to demonstrate that all credit required for the award of the Diploma has been achieved. There is no overall grade for the Access to HE Diploma as is the case for A levels. Access to HE students will receive a unit transcript that outlines the unit grades awarded. 

 

If the credit volume was reduced, it would not be possible to make the award of the Diploma needed to support progression into higher education. 

 

While it is not possible to reduce the number of credits, other adaptations, such as reducing the volume of assessment needed, are possible.

 

What do the arrangements look like for units where a student cannot submit all of the evidence required for the award of such units?

 

In those exceptional cases where a student has been unable to submit all of the assessments required for the achievement of each unit, through no fault of their own, the tutor/provider will draw upon either further adaptations to assessments or alternate lines of evidence to determine whether the unit can be awarded. 

 

Sufficient evidence will need to be available for tutors/providers to make a judgement on the award of a unit. This means that tutors/providers may need to ensure additional student assessment or alternative evidence is generated. The available evidence must relate to the learning outcomes of each unit being assessed.

 

Continued teaching of the Diploma will be vital to ensure that the most complete sources of evidence are available on which the tutor/provider can base their judgement. 

 

Tutor/provider judgements can only be based on evidence of what the student can do, not what a student has the potential to achieve. 

 

To ensure students have confidence in the results awarded this year, the evidence submitted to support the award of a unit will be subject to moderation and standardisation.

 

On completion of the Diploma, students will continue to receive a unit transcript and it will not be possible to identify from the transcript units awarded through extenuation.

 

What are extenuating circumstances? 

 

Any circumstances or factors likely to impact adversely on student achievement and progression. These circumstances or factors are usually either unforeseen or unpreventable and outside the control of the student.

 

For many students, the pandemic will have impacted their learning experience. The exact nature and severity of that impact will be dependent on a complex interaction of factors at provider (centre), Diploma and student (individual and/or cohort) level.

 

Providers will have procedures for dealing with cases of extenuating circumstances. In most cases, extenuating circumstances that affect achievement on individual units (for example, in relation to requests for extended deadlines) are handled at course level, and appropriate action and decisions taken according to the provider's approved procedures.

 

AVAs will have processes in place to also consider cases where extenuating circumstances have affected performance in more than one area, or in any other way that falls outside the provider's normal processes. This will also include exceptional cases where extenuating circumstances have affected the completion or submission of work for assessment.

 

If extenuating circumstances impact student performance, such circumstances will be taken into account when quality assuring grades, through the process of moderation and standardisation. Tutors, Internal Moderators and External Moderators will ensure decisions are fair, robust and equitable, based upon careful consideration of the extenuating circumstances and student overall performance across their programme of learning.

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?


COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called Coronavirus. For further information on COVID-19, please see the NHS website.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?


Symptoms of Coronavirus include:

  1. feeling tired
  2. difficulty breathing
  3. high temperature
  4. a continuous cough.

For more information about symptoms and about what you should do if you experience any of these, please visit the NHS website.


WHO WILL RECEIVE CALCULATED GRADES?


All students due to complete their QAA-recognised Access to HE Diploma by 31 July 2020 will receive calculated grades.
It does not include students that have:

  • withdrawn
  • an expected completion date after 31 July 2020.

WHICH ACCESS TO HE DIPLOMAS ARE INCLUDED?


It will include all QAA-recognised Access to HE Diplomas that have students who are due to complete by 31 July 2020. For a list of all Diplomas please go to the course search on our website.


I’M A DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENT, WILL I GET A CALCULATED GRADE?


Only if you were expected to complete by 31 July 2020. All students expected to complete their Diploma by 31 July 2020, however they were being taught before the college closures (eg in college, distance learning, fast track etc) will receive a calculated grade for all assessments due to be handed in after 20 March 2020.


If you were expected to complete after 31 July 2020 you will be supported to complete your studies through changes to the delivery of teaching and assessment of your course.


We know that, as Access to HE students, many of you are engaged in a tricky balance between work, family responsibilities and studies. However, it is important that all students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition into higher education, so making use of the resources prepared by Access to HE tutors and participating in continuing virtual teaching and tutorials, where possible, is key to ensure you have covered all the subject knowledge required for your Diploma.


Continuing with learning will help all Access to HE students feel more confident that they are ready to take the next step in their education or career pathway. We expect Access to HE course tutors to continue to deliver teaching and support. Therefore, we encourage you to continue your learning wherever you can.


DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR CALCULATED GRADES?


No. If you are due to complete by 31 July 2020 you will automatically receive calculated grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. 


WHAT IF I AM DUE TO COMPLETE AFTER 31 JULY 2020?


Students who plan to complete their Access to HE Diplomas after 31 July 2020 will be supported to complete their studies through changes to the delivery of teaching and assessment of the course.


Access to HE course tutors are working hard to adapt to new ways of delivery and assessment and are developing materials to help students get the most out of their learning in order to prepare them for higher study.


We know that the current environment is a really challenging one, and we want all students to be supported as effectively as possible during this time. Access to HE providers and AVAs already have in place procedures to allow such students to request extensions to deadlines and to identify where extenuating circumstances may affect their academic performance, should the current situation make studying difficult. These procedures will certainly be available to all students. It is also possible that some assessments may be rescheduled.


The current QAA grading scheme will apply to students who are due to complete after 31 July 2020. Where a student feels their case has not been addressed by this guidance they should speak to their course tutor.
Further guidance will follow in due course.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY TEACHING AND ASSESSMENTS NOW THE COLLEGE/PROVIDER IS CLOSED?


Your college/provider has been 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.


WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M NOT ABLE TO STUDY BECAUSE OF ILLNESS OR BECAUSE OF OTHER COMMITMENTS, INCLUDING ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS A KEY WORKER OR CARER?


If you plan to complete your studies after 31 July 2020, you will be able to use procedures that are already in place to request extensions to deadlines and to identify where extenuating circumstances may affect your academic performance. You should be able to find out about these from your course tutor or student handbook.


If you are due to complete your Access to HE Diploma by 31 July 2020 you will receive calculated grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. We expect Access to HE course tutors to continue to deliver teaching and support during this period. Therefore, we encourage you to continue your learning wherever you can. If you need help or further support, you should contact your course provide.


A student completing their Diploma by 31 July 2020 will now receive estimated assessment grades for all remaining assessments with submission dates after 20 March 2020. The assessment may include exams, or other forms of assessments, for example essays, practical work and presentations.


HOW WILL ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES WORK FOR GRADED UNITS?


We are asking course tutors to use their professional experience to make a fair and objective judgement of the grades assigned to each assessment they believe a student would have been likely to have achieved.


Course tutors should draw on existing records and available evidence as far as possible in the context of current public health advice.


The course tutor will then review all the assessment grades that have been given for a unit and will determine the final grade for the unit using a standard method. The final grade for the unit is arrived at by establishing the midpoint of grades in the unit grade profile.


CAN I FAIL THE COURSE VIA ESTIMATED GRADES?


Estimated assessment grades will be based on a range of evidence, including:

  • prior attainment on course;
  • formative assessments (assessment for learning); and
  • any other records of student performance over the course of study.

Estimated assessment grades may include:

  • Achieved (ungraded units)
  • Pass (graded units)
  • Merit (graded units)
  • Distinction (graded units)
  • Not achieved (graded and ungraded units)

HOW WILL I ACHIEVE UNGRADED UNITS?


As stated above, we are asking course tutors to use their professional experience to make fair and objective judgements of the achievement on each assessment they believe a student would have been likely to have achieved.
Course tutors should draw on existing records and available evidence as far as possible in the context of current public health advice.


WHAT ABOUT STUDENTS WHO HAVE AN AGREED REASONABLE ADJUSTMENT OR ACCESS ARRANGEMENT?


Providers will judge the grades that these students would most likely have achieved if they had been able to complete their assessments with the intended reasonable adjustment or access arrangement in place.


WILL I SEE THE ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES THAT MY PROVIDER SUBMITS?


No. Providers will not share estimated assessment grades with students until final results have been confirmed. This is to protect the integrity of the tutors' judgements, and to avoid tutors feeling under pressure to submit grades that are not supported by the evidence.


DO I HAVE TO CONTINUE TO COMPLETE ASSESSMENTS TO INFORM THE ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES SUBMITTED BY PROVIDERS?


No. There is no requirement for providers to set assessments for the purposes of determining your estimated assessment grade. In addition, providers do not need to ask students to complete any unfinished assessment work and work expected to be resubmitted after 20 March 2020, for the purposes of estimating grades. If you have any questions about late submissions you should speak to your course tutor.


No student should be disadvantaged if they were unable to complete any work set after many providers closed on 20 March 2020.


Where assessments have been completed after 20 March 2020, course tutors and senior course managers will be expected to exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.


We encourage students to continue learning wherever they can and this may include the completion of formative assessments (a piece of work that supports your learning). You should talk to your course provider if you experience difficulties continuing with your learning.


Please note that all assessments completed after 20 March 2020 will not include summative assessments.


I HANDED A PIECE OF WORK BEFORE 20 MARCH THAT NEEDS TO BE RESUBMITTED, WHAT HAPPENS NOW?


Providers do not need to ask students to complete any unfinished assessment work and work expected to be resubmitted after 20 March 2020, for the purposes of estimating grades.


The tutor will use the evidence available to them to estimate your assessment grades for all planned assessments to be submitted after 20 March 2020. This includes work to be resubmitted after 20 March 2020.


I AM DUE TO COMPLETE BY 31 JULY 2020 BUT I HAVE COMPLETED LESS THAN 50% OF PLANNED ASSESSMENTS BY 20 MARCH 2020, WILL I RECEIVE CALCULATED GRADES?


It is our expectation that students will have completed a minimum of 50% of planned assessed work by 20 March 2020. If you have any questions about the amount of planned assessed work you have completed and the possible options for you moving forward, you should contact your provider.


CAN I CONTINUE TO COMPLETE MY ASSESSMENTS?


We know that many Access to HE students are engaged in a tricky balance between work, family responsibilities and studies. However, it is important that all students are as well prepared as they can be for their transition into higher education, so making use of the resources prepared by Access to HE tutors and participating in continuing virtual teaching and tutorials, where possible,
is key to ensure you have covered all the subject knowledge required of your Diploma.


Continuing with learning will help all Access to HE students feel more confident that they are ready to take the next step in their education or career pathway. We expect Access to HE course tutors to continue to deliver teaching and support. Therefore, we encourage you to continue your learning wherever you can. You may wish to continue to complete formative assessments, where possible. Please contact your course provider. Please note that all assessments completed after 20 March 2020 will be considered to be formative assessments. Your tutor may provide you with development feedback on these formative assessments.


Formative assessment refers to a wide variety of methods that course tutors use to conduct
in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during
a lesson, unit, or Diploma. In other words:

  • formative assessments are for learning
  • summative assessments are of learning.

In terms of estimating assessment grades, there is no requirement for course tutors to set assessments for the purposes of determining an estimated assessment grade.


If you need help or further support, you should contact your course provider.


WHEN AND HOW WILL ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES BE SUBMITTED TO AVAS?


AVAs will provide detailed instructions to course providers on how to submit assessment grades and unit grades. In terms of what will be submitted, it will include:

  • record of prior attainment on course (up to and including 20 March 2020)
  • record of estimated grades (21 March 2020 to 31 July 2020).

WILL MY COURSE TUTORS NEED TO SUBMIT THE EVIDENCE THEY HAVE USED FOR ESTIMATING MY GRADES?


Course tutors will retain all the evidence for the purposes of moderation and standardisation exercises. AVAs will contact providers with sample lists to be externally moderated. The senior course manager will be asked to confirm that the estimated assessment grades are a true representation of student performance.


WILL MY ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES BE ACCURATE?


In an extraordinary situation such as this, course tutors are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students had the courses been completed as normal. In the interests of fairness to students, judgements made by course tutors should be consistent. AVAs will therefore quality assure and standardise the judgements once estimated assessment grades have been submitted to ensure grades are fair.


HOW WILL MY ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES BE QUALITY ASSURED AND STANDARDISED?


To make sure that grades are fair, AVAs and providers will ensure estimated assessment grades go through a process of internal moderation, external moderation, and standardisation.


As part of the moderation process, if grading judgements in some providers appear to be more severe or generous compared to national grade outcomes in recent years, AVAs will adjust the assessment grades of some or all of those students upwards or downwards accordingly.


In terms of national standardisation, QAA will consult on the principles of this model shortly,
but we expect it will look at evidence such as the:

  • prior attainment on course of students at each provider, AVA and by subject
  • expected national grade outcomes for this year's students
  • national grade outcomes of the provider, AVA and subject in recent years.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?


Results will be released by AVAs to your providers on Monday 13 July 2020.


Course providers will then release the results to you. Please contact your provider for details on how you will receive your results.

 

WILL MY ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADES CARRY THE SAME WEIGHT AS GRADES ISSUED IN PREVIOUS OR FUTURE YEARS?


The estimated assessment grades awarded to students will have equal status to the grades awarded prior to 20 March 2020 and also in other years and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers.


The grades awarded for each unit will be shown on the achievement transcript that is issued with Access to HE Diplomas. The transcript also shows how many credits were awarded for each successfully completed graded or ungraded unit. Grades will be reported in the same way as in previous years.


CAN I APPEAL MY GRADES?


We recognise that some students may feel disappointed that they haven't been able to complete their assessments.


We are all focused on making sure students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances including to allow for an appeal where appropriate. Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for appeals will not apply. We are considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal and will consult shortly with AVAs and providers on proposals.


If a student does not feel their calculated grades reflect their expected performance, they will have the opportunity to appeal or they may choose to sit their assessments at the earliest reasonable opportunity (when all providers are operating normally). Students should be made aware that taking their assessments later may impact their progression to university in September. In addition, if a student does not believe the correct process of assessment for the award of the Access to HE Diploma has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal.


IF I FELT THAT MY CALCULATED GRADE(S) DID NOT REFLECT MY PERFORMANCE AND I CHOSE TO SIT ASSESSMENT(S) AT THE EARLIEST REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO GO TO UNIVERSITY THIS YEAR?


When all providers are operating normally, students may still choose to take an assessment or assessments even where their university or college place has been confirmed. However, it will take time for the results of these assessments to be issued, so you will need to discuss with your higher and further education institution whether to start your course as planned or to delay your entry.


QAA has spoken to UCAS and was reassured to hear that institutions intend to be flexible wherever possible and will do all they can to support students to progress.


IF I TAKE AN ASSESSMENT AT THE EARLIEST REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY, WHICH WILL STAND – THE ACTUAL OR ESTIMATED ASSESSMENT GRADE?


Where students choose to take an assessment or assessments when all providers are operating normally, the actual assessment grade will stand. Please note that your actual assessment grade may be lower than the estimated assessment grade.


I AM STUDYING GCSE’s OR FUNCTIONAL SKILLS ALONGSIDE MY ACCESS TO HE DIPLOMA, WHAT HAPPENS ABOUT THESE QUALIFICATIONS?


GCSEs and functional skills are regulated by Ofqual and you would need to look at the information produced by Ofqual about them.


WILL I BE ABLE TO PROGRESS TO THE NEXT STAGE OF EDUCATION OR EMPLOYMENT WITH THESE GRADES?


This approach will enable students to move onto the next stage of their education or employment in the autumn as planned, subject to meeting the requirements set by the receiving institution or employer.


I’M DUE TO ATTEND AN OPEN DAY/INTERVIEW FOR A UNIVERSITY PLACE – IS THIS STILL GOING AHEAD?


If you have any concerns around an interview, audition or university open day or taster course, you should contact the university or college directly for advice.


WHAT ABOUT MEETING THE CONDITIONS OF MY UNIVERSITY OFFER?


The UCAS website is updated regularly with information for applicants.   


I AM ON A PRE-ACCESS COURSE, WHAT HAPPENS ABOUT THESE QUALIFICATIONS?


You would need to speak to the organisation that will issue your Pre-Access qualification to find out what will happen to your results. Your course provider will be able to let you know the name of the awarding body.


I WANT TO APPLY TO TAKE AN ACCESS TO HE COURSE. HOW DO I DO THIS IF THE COLLEGE IS CLOSED?


You should visit the course provider website to find out more about their Diplomas and how you can apply. You might find it useful to look at our Career Coach tool to help you find out more about the career path you would like to follow and to find relevant courses.


I AM A PROVIDER AND HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT SUPPORTING MY STUDENTS. WHO SHOULD I CONTACT?


Liaise with your AVA about the situation at your college so that contingencies can be put in place as necessary. Contact details for the AVAs are available on our website.


HOW CAN I KEEP UP-TO-DATE?


 For the latest advice regarding COVID-19, please see:

For travel advice please check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

FAQs for Access to HE providers

 

Frequently asked questions for Access to HE providers are published on the QAA website.