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Mitigating the disruption of studies to Access to Higher Education Diploma students caused by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak - QAA guidance for providers

Date: March 20 - 2020

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is the most significant challenge we’ve faced in at least a generation. The advice from the Government and health officials is fast-moving and we want to ensure that we balance that advice with the needs and concerns of students, providers and our wider communities. The closure of colleges today (Friday 20 March) will certainly affect both teaching and assessment. The following guidance is therefore designed to support Access to HE providers navigating the challenges associated with the disruption of studies to Access to HE students.

In the short term we need to work hard to ensure that our students and colleagues are given good advice, and are supported to remain safe and well. As providers move to cancel face-to-face activity to potentially alternative delivery and assessment methods, QAA will be working closely with Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) to ensure that quality, standards and student outcomes can be maintained.

AVAs and providers will all have regulations and contingencies to cover the eventuality of students missing teaching or assessment through illness; that pathway is well developed and understood. Significant reductions in staff numbers may pose more of a challenge and moving the mode of teaching to an alternate method on a wholesale basis provides fresh challenges again.

During this time, AVAs will work closely with providers to discuss how to mitigate the effects of any provider shutdown on students - drawing on the assessment regulations and policies that would cover such eventualities, including any provision they may have for disruptive circumstances, such as incidents of 'force majeure', or any interim measures laid out to protect the interests of students.

If an AVA and their provider conclude that attempts cannot reasonably be made to assess students and maintain academic standards in the present circumstances, the AVA will put in place 'effective arrangements' and implement them as soon as the current situation is resolved.

QAA is liaising with UCAS to ensure that it can best support the AVAs to meet the requirements for results transfer to minimise the impact of this situation on learners.

As the priority is the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff in their learning community, QAA reiterates the need for providers and their AVAs to follow the instructions of relevant health authorities.

Advice from health authorities

The current English Government advice on COVID-19:

The current Welsh Government advice on COVID-19:

The current Foreign Office advice on COVID-19:

Coronavirus FAQs

QAA have put together a number of FAQs regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Access to HE students and providers. This information will be regularly updated to reflect the latest advice.