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Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about Workstream C.
From September 2020 onwards, progression should be based upon a linear model of progress through discrete levels of study (Levels 4, 5 and 6). As a consequence, we will need to create specific progression stages after each level of study.
At present, we operate a module-to-module prerequisite structure. By moving to a linear progression, we will simplify the requirements making it easier for students and staff to understand.
There will be two main routes of progression. The first route is for students obtaining an honours degree and a second route that allows alternative progression paths for students opting to exit with an interim award.
In this second stream, students would be able to progress to the next level of study with fewer than the required credits for an honours degree (for example, 300 credits for an ordinary degree compared with 360 for an honours degree). However, they would also be required to follow a specific exit award pathway at this point, and would not be eligible to return to an honours pathway again once they had chosen the alternative pathway.
Main components of the progression model for undergraduate honours programmes:
Compensating pass is a widely used practice amongst UK institutions where credit is awarded when a pass mark has been marginally missed, providing other elements of the year have been passed satisfactorily. There will be no award of credit for missing a pass by a large margin, not attempting a module or where other modules across the year have been failed.
Compensation would be defined within regulations as “The practice of allowing marginal failure (ie not more than 10% below the nominal pass mark) of one or more modules, and awarding credit for them, on the basis of good overall academic performance”.
Compensation is a common practice within the sector and considers the achievement of learning outcomes at a whole programme level across a year of study rather than individual module level. It is accepted as a practice by most Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs), who make clear instances in which it will not be accepted. Where it is not accepted by an accrediting body, this requirement will supersede the Brookes allowance.
Compensation eligibility will be determined automatically on the basis of the marks achieved, but the final decision regarding the application of compensation will be based on academic judgement made by an exam committee. Judgements must be reasonable, transparent and may be open to appeal, but will ultimately be made by the appropriate experts.
A student will only be awarded a compensated pass mark for a module once they had completed a first attempt and a resit. A compensated pass will normally be awarded as an alternative to a retake of a module.
Compensation will be applied as follows:
For part-time students, a compensated mark would normally only be awarded at the completion of the level of study at which it is to be applied (ie if it takes two years to complete Level 4, compensation will only be applied at the end of the second year of study). However;the student will know that they may be eligible for compensation on modules from their first year of Level 4 (part-time year 1) if they go on to pass all of the necessary elements in their second year of study to complete Level 4 (part-time year 2) and vice versa.
Compensation should be confirmed by the exam committee and would be subjected to academic judgement and relevant PSRB requirements.
Compensation is a widely used practice amongst UK institutions and professional bodies, eg Engineering Council, Institute of Biomedical Sciences. The table below outlines a few universities that utilise compensation pass marking as part of their progression.
Condonement allows a student to progress from one year to the next and/or to be awarded a qualification where they are carrying a small amount of failure, as long as their overall performance is of a good standard and the requirements of any relevant Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies are met. Students who meet the condonement criteria will not be reassessed.
All modules on a programme should be condonable. Subject to approval by UCL Education Committee or its nominee, a Programme may designate one or more modules as non-condonable (must be passed).
In the current progression scheme, trailing modules is an acceptable practice. Students are allowed to progress to the next stage of their programmes of study, retaking a module they failed during the previous stage alongside their modules from the next stage. The original purpose of this practice was to give students an opportunity to stay on track; where those who retook or who had disregards, would still finish in the same timeframe as those who did not fail any modules.
However, historical data analysis suggests that very few students recovered their original position through trailing. Students who trailed tended not to complete at the same time as their peers, hence this practice doesn’t help students to recover their position in terms of completion time. To the contrary, it has other severe consequences for the students, as it makes the spread of workload very uneven over a longer completion timeframe, overloading a carefully designed programme, increasing the academic workload and impacting the student experience. Also, most of the Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies don’t allow this practice for their accredited programmes.
It was clear that the new progression rules are highly likely to have a positive impact on a wide group of students according to their completion status. For example:
The group formed by students who take longer to complete their degree and those who are still studying (1095 ≈ 15%) will be positively affected by the introduction of the new progression rules, as historically they tend to fail up to two modules during their academic life. The introduction of the new progression model will increase their opportunity to complete their degree on time, reducing the amount of trailing modules and retakes, therefore improving their student experience.
As per the analysis, from UK home students, 32.8% of Asian students, 40.95% of black students and 47.06% students from other ethnic groups will fail at least one module during their academic studies. These numbers combined with statistics regarding completion times, where 19.2% of Asian students and 18.1% of black students take longer time to complete their studies, in comparison with just 8.3% of white students, clearly show that BAME students will most likely have a positive impact from the new scheme through a reduced number of modules they will have to retake and this will have a substantial improvement on their completion times.
Please see Academic Framework modelling: Impact of the new progression rules for the complete progression analysis.
Changing the current programmes’ structure to a model clearly based on distinct levels of study implies that the current degree classification system must be modified, moving to a system that gives specific weight to each level of study.
Also, according to Teaching Excellence Framework metrics for the sector, over the last few years, the proportion of first-class degrees awarded has doubled from 13% to 26% of all classified degrees. The QAA report on degree classification also highlights that the growing percentage of first and upper second-class degrees awarded can’t be fully explained by factors such as entry qualifications representative of the typical student and increased investment in teaching and learning resources. We could only assume that this unexplained increase could be attributed to behavioural changes in the student population, a factor that is complex to determine and quantify.
During the last three years, as an institution, the number of Brookes students awarded a first-class degree has increased by 8%, which is consistent with the aforementioned changes in the overall student attainment. Even where we are below the benchmark, we are taking steps to anticipate and respond appropriately to further changes, maintaining the attainment level of our students and curbing inappropriate increases in the awarding of first-class and upper second-class degrees.
As part of its implementation, the Academic Framework initiative carefully analysed and modelled the impact of five proposals and their changes in the assessment/module structure on student degree outcomes, progression, etc, considering the potential for grade inflation and the impact of these changes in under-represented groups and other student categories with protected characteristics (eg BAME, disabled, mature).
From the wide variety of proposals suggested by ADSEs and the Academic Registrar in the degree classification working group, each one of them exploring different weightings for each level of study, the proposal that most closely resembles our current model with the potential to slightly close the attainment gap amongst under-represented groups and the rest of our student population was chosen.
The analysis was created in a program called STATA. The code starts from raw data. It replicates the stated averages, creates the new grading proposals, classifies the new proposals into 1st, 2nd … 5th. Then a model called an ordered probit runs the predicted proposal grade on covariates. These covariates are: year awarded, gender, ethnicity, domicile, exit mode, and disability. We used the ordered probit models to predict the probability that each group (i.e. ethnic group) gets a #1=1st, #2=2:1, #3=2:2, #4=3rd.
You can access the whole analysis in Academic Framework modelling: Degree classification.
The degree classification of undergraduate programmes will be based on an overall weighted summation of the calculated average from the Level 5 weighted modules (25%) and triple-weighted Level 6 modules (75%).
No additional exit velocity No dropping marks
The overall weighted summation of the calculated average from the Level 5 weighted modules (25%) and triple-weighted Level 6 modules (75%) and the average of the marks obtained in all six Level 7 module credits.
Undergraduate programmes classification = 50%
(overall weighted summation of the calculated average from the Level 5 (25%) + Level 6 modules (75%))
The concept of “exit velocity”, where the final year of study, at the highest level of study, counts more in proportionate terms towards a final degree classification is common practice within the sector.
This recognises that students are progressing towards the most difficult elements of their degree, but have spent time building up the requisite knowledge and skills and should be, by Level 6, able to complete the most challenging aspects. The highest weighting should be applied to the most challenging components and applied when students are best placed to tackle them. To apply an equal weighting to years two and three would not accurately reflect what students will be required to do and could disproportionately benefit students who can excel at Level 5, but fail to perform as well at the level that truly defines the requirements of the degree.
It is perhaps unfair to students to claim that with too low a weighting on Level 5, they will not apply appropriate effort, as by that rationale, no student would achieve more than a pass grade at Level 4. We should start from the position that every student will try their best in everything that they attempt. The rationale for applying 25% to Level 5 is to recognise that by Level 5 students will have studied for sufficient time in order for their work to contribute to their final degree classification and that the year serves as an important building block into the final year.
The proposed degree classification system, according to the results of our data modelling, will maintain a similar level to our current system in the overall results. However, it will have some variations in terms of specific awards.
It will decrease, in a very small proportion, the probability of a student obtaining a first-class degree, distributing this probability amongst the other possible degree outcomes without causing a major variation in any of them. These results would be clearly positive in relation to our contribution to the specific sector concern regarding degree inflation, as the new degree classification system will distance our current position even further from the benchmark inflation rates.
It is also foreseen that the new proposed degree classification system will have a positive impact on the attainment gap of under-represented groups and other student categories with protected characteristics, as it is most likely to reduce in a small proportion the attainment gap between the aforementioned students and the rest of the student population, especially for groups with particular characteristics such as ethnicity.
The calculation of the degree classification is entirely independent of the calculation of the GPA. The GPA calculation won’t change from what we currently have (currently we include marks from all levels (Level 4, 5 and 6) to calculate this average.
In contrast to a degree classification, e.g. 2:1, 2:2, the GPA score is a simple, mean average with each module counting equally according to its credit value, i.e. 1 credit carries equal weighting irrespective of level, subject, when taken, etc.
To find out more about how we calculate and use GPA, see the information on Grade Point Average and honours classification.
The majority of UK universities use a weighting system, the table below highlights a few examples of the weight distribution used by other institutions.
*The best marks achieved for 100 credits.
** Best 120 credits of the 150 studied at Level 5, and the best 105 credits of the 120 studied at Level 6.
***A combined average numeric grade, weighted 75% (Level 6) and 25% (Level 5) of the average numeric grade of the best 90 credits at Level 6 or higher, plus the average numeric grade of the remaining 90 credits at Level 5 or Higher.
Yes. Modules within Modern Language programmes are structured in line with the European Framework. This allows students to enter at different levels, depending on their language level. Other programmes across the University currently use the language modules as “service modules”, accessing them using their current progressive structure. Oxford Brookes Business School has a number of programmes in which accreditation is based on the study of language modules throughout their programme of study.
The undergraduate Academic English support offered by Upgrade Academic Skills Development is designed to develop the language and skills needed to perform specific undergraduate assignment tasks for students whose first language is not English.
These type of modules (Academic English and Modern Languages) can be taken as follows:
Changes to collaborative provision will be minimal, as proven by a structural analysis performed at the end of last year. The analysis showed that current programmes shouldn’t be modified, as they already have a mainly compulsory structure and manage discrete years of study.
It has been proposed that degree classification and progression models should apply just to those BA/BA Hons programmes that are fully taught at the colleges. Top-up and foundation degrees’ progression and degree classification should remain in its current form, due to the variety of students that use this scheme (not just ACPs).
International Collaborative Provision has historically acted as a “mirrored provision”, emulating closely (with one year difference) the development and structure of Faculties’ in-house programmes. It has been proposed that the implementation of structural changes relating to the Academic Framework in these programmes should take into account the mirrored provision factor, allowing the scheme to continue. Therefore, all relevant changes must be implemented a year after our in-house programmes, starting with Level 4 in September 2021.
Regarding module registration, only programmes that require Brookes’ timetabling will be subjected to the new module deadlines. Programmes that are fully timetabled by the colleges will remain outside of this initiative.