Information for the Boards of Examiners for the MCE process

Summary of key adjustments made to MCE process for TT2020

  • One MCE submissions to be made per student for all assessment within 5 working days after the final piece of assessment (be that open-book exam, course work submission or dissertation).This is to ensure that all of the student’s circumstances are taken into consideration.
  • The MCE form is split into 3 sections, section 1 is personal details about the student, section 2 is about the impact of the pandemic on their teaching, revision, exam/coursework submission, section 3 is anything which goes beyond section 2 (i.e. the typical MCE we would expect from a student).
  • Evidence is not required. This is in recognition of the difficulty of obtaining evidence during the pandemic situation, therefore a student with evidence should not be given greater weight than a student without.
  • Severity banding of each MCE (scale of 1 to 3) is not required.
  • MCEs will not go directly to the board administrator as they are received. MCE submissions are being collated by the Proctors Office and will be sent as a batch to the Chair of Examiners and board administrator. A spreadsheet which collates the information provided by the student will be provided with a SharePoint site link to any supporting evidence the student has submitted. This information will be supplied 6 days after the final piece of assessment, if the final exam board date is then some time later any additional MCEs will be supplied at least 2 days before the final board meeting.
  • The safety net policy must be considered before the MCE policy and only after both have been considered should any penalties be applied (e.g. penalty associated with late submission of open-book exam).
  • If the Board is aware of their cohort being impacted by something specific to their course (e.g. a field trip was cancelled so they had to move their course-work to a research piece of work) this should be considered under the stage 1 complaint procedure and the decision to make or not make any adjustments to those impacted will need to be written into the board minutes (as you would if there was an exam disruption reported to you by the Proctors for a face to face exam).
  • Any MCEs received after the final exam board meeting will be sent to the board in batches, typically every 5 working days thereafter.

Examiner process for MCE consideration

  1. Chair of Examiner and board administrator receive the MCE documentation supplied by the Proctors Office. This will be (i) a spreadsheet which collates all the information submitted from the students (ii) any supporting documentation supplied via a link to the SharePoint site.
  2. The board administrator will review any supporting documentation and remove any identifying information from the file names (e.g. student’s name).
  3. At the final exam board meeting, the board will need to consider the suite of mitigating options available to them in a particular order (1) the safety net policy (2) any cohort wide circumstances related to COVID-19 (3) the MCE submitted by student (4) any penalties that need to be applied.  
  • Firstly, the board needs to consider the safety net policy. This is about reducing the risk that students may be disadvantaged by the conditions in which they revised for and sat their exams during the COVID-19 pandemic. A statement should be added in the minutes explaining how the safety net policy was applied and what actions were taken. 
  • Secondly, the board needs to consider any known impact COVID-19 had on its students, for example if exam papers had to be significantly adjusted to move into an open-book exam format or if a field trip was cancelled so the coursework submission associated with it was adjusted to a research based piece etc. These known impacts should be considered under a cohort wide review whereby the board uses its academic judgement to determine (i) the likely impact any identified circumstances had on the cohort, (ii) if any mitigation should be applied, and (iii) what this mitigation should be. A statement should be added in the minutes explaining (i) to (iii).

Please note the exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what has been identified as part of the cohort wide consideration, or that additional action should be taken as the safety net policy did not quite mitigate the impact of what has been identified as part of the cohort wide consideration.

  • Thirdly, the board needs to consider any MCE which has been submitted by an individual student. The board should systematically work through the spreadsheet provided, considering for each student information they have supplied under section 2 (student assessment of practical arrangements during their assessments) and under section 3 (individual circumstances for which they may have submitted evidence). Any column which has a title in red text will need to be filled out by the board. Action taken under the safety net policy and any cohort wide considerations will need to be noted, followed by the decision of whether further action is required as a result of the MCE. Any actions taken will need to be in line with what is possible under the MCE policy and should be noted in the spreadsheet. However if no action is taken the reasons for this also need to be noted in the spreadsheet.
  • Fourthly, the board needs to consider any penalties the student might be awarded, for example late submission of an open-book exam.

Please note after the consideration of mitigating circumstances the exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy and/or under the cohort wide consideration is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what has been identified in the mitigating circumstances consideration, or that additional action should be taken as neither the safety net policy nor the cohort wide consideration quite mitigated the impact of what has been identified as part of the mitigating circumstances consideration.

  1. The board will need to consider any borderline candidates in line with their policies after considering the suite of mitigating options available to them and applying any penalties.

Frequency Asked Questions

The volume of MCE submissions expected this year is predicted to be significantly higher than normal. The concern was raised that if the standard process was kept in place this could significantly overwhelm colleges and departments who would need to process the volume whilst also supporting students as they took their assessments during the pandemic. The MCE process was reviewed and adjustments proposed which were then consulted on through varying education groups. It was determined some key changes to the administrative portions of the process could help manage the volume this year, whilst ensuring the academic judgement of the examiners could still be consistently applied.

Students are asked to complete three sections.

  • Section one is their personal details
  • Section two is their assessment of the impact of the pandemic on their teaching, revision and assessments.
  • Section three is any other individual circumstances they believe impacted on their assessments which needs to be brought to the board’s attention. It is only for section three that supporting evidence can be supplied.

You should ask the student to ensure they have carried out the following steps:

  • The form will not work in Safari, therefore please use Chrome, Firefox or MS Edge.
  • When on the login page they will need to enter their Oxford Single Sign On (SSO) and @OX.AC.UK. They should not use their college or departmental (e.g. @said.oxford.edu) email address. For example if their SSO is proc0000 they will need to enter the following in the login box: proc0000@OX.AC.UK not: proc000@said.oxford.edu or proc000@college.ox.ac.uk
  • When they are on the University WebAuth page they will need to enter their SSO details and password to access the form.
  • If they are logged into any Microsoft Office products with their departmental email (e.g. proc000@said.oxford.edu) they will need to have logged out before they can log in and complete the form.
  • If they have previously submitted a form they will not be able to submit another one and their access will be denied.

Students have been asked to submit their MCE forms within 5 working days of their final assessment, this includes their dissertation/thesis. This is to ensure that all of the student’s circumstances are taken into consideration at the final exam board. The MCE documentation is being collated by the Proctors Office and will be supplied on the 6th working day after the final piece of assessment.

A spreadsheet will be provided which captures all the information a student has supplied on their MCE. In addition a SharePoint link will be provided to any supporting evidence which has been supplied by the student. This will be sent to the Chair of Board and administrator 6 days after the final assessment. Any MCEs which are supplied to the Proctors Office after this date and before the final exam board will be forwarded to the Chair and administrator in batches with the last forward date being 2 days before the final exam board meeting date.

The Proctors will consider all MCEs received after the final exam board meeting in line with the late MCE process as detailed in the EAF. If it is determined the student has a valid reason for the late submission this will then be passed to the Chair and administrator. It is expected these will be passed in batches every fortnight after the final exam board meeting.

Given the strain on doctors and nurses due to COVID-19, students have been advised they do not need to submit medical evidence with their MCE. Students have been asked to provide a statement which explicitly details the way(s) in which their circumstances affected their examination performance, e.g. fatigue, poor concentration, panic attacks, etc. and submit (i) any evidence they already have or which is easily accessible such as previous diagnostic letter of a long-term health condition, proof of travel disruption etc. (ii)  any contemporaneous evidence such as a copy of an email they sent to the designated college officer following the affected exam(s) etc.

Exam boards should treat all cases equitably no matter the form or degree of evidence provided.

Part of the banding process is an assessment of the strength of the evidence provided by the students. As the evidence standards have been relaxed this academic year it was deemed unreasonable for this banding process to occur.

In a typical year during an invigilated exam the Board of Examiners may be notified of a disruption during the exam. This could be anything from a correction to the paper to unexpected noise outside the exam school. The board would have this reported to them under stage one of the complaints procedure and would be expected to consider what impact this had on the students, and then decide whether and what adjustment should be made to mitigate this impact. This would then be captured in the minutes of the board. The expectation of the systematic assessment is that the board should consider any known impact COVID-19 had on its students, for example if exam papers had to be significantly adjusted to move into an open-book exam format, if a field trip was cancelled so the coursework submission associated with it was adjusted to a research based piece etc. They should assess the impact this is likely to have had on the students and then determine if any mitigation should be applied, and what this mitigation should be. This should then be recorded into the minutes as normal.

No. The exam board may determine that in their academic judgement action taken under the safety net policy is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what the student has brought to their attention in the MCE. Or that action taken under the safety net policy and the cohort wide assessment is sufficient to mitigate the impact of what the student has brought to their attention in the MCE. In addition it is possible for there to be clear evidence of impact on a student but for there to be no appropriate action which the examiners can take, and therefore for no adjustment to be made.

The exam board will need to use their academic judgement to determine if (i) any mitigating action is required, and (ii) what that mitigating action should be. The application of the mitigation is not a mechanistic process and therefore advice cannot be provided on this. 

In circumstances where there has clearly been serious impact on a student but there is no action which the board can take, the board may wish to consider whether to recommend that an application is made to Education Committee for appropriate dispensation. For example, examiners are not able to decide that an attempt should be set aside, but in some circumstances an exam board may be unable to pass the candidate at resit but be sympathetic to a candidate being given an exceptional third attempt at an assessment.

For both the cohort-wide action and the individual circumstances actions the exam board should confirm that (i) information about mitigating circumstances has been considered by the examiners, (ii) how that information has been considered (i.e. the information that has been taken into account, and the conclusions that have been drawn from that information), and (iii) the outcome of the consideration with the reasons for the decisions reached. For the cohort consideration this will need to be captured in separate sections within the minutes, for the MCE considerations this should be captured within the supplied spreadsheet. The outcome should be entered onto eVision for publication to students with results via Student Self Service. Further guidance on recording the outcome on eVision is available at https://examshandbook.admin.ox.ac.uk/home 

 

Yes, if all assessments for the course are complete (including dissertations and theses). If the Board wishes to consider the MCEs at an interim meeting they will need to contact Sarah Ashley, Senior Assistant Clerk in order to arrange for this to happen. Boards must bear in mind that student may submit MCEs after this date and must be prepared to consider these submissions via confidential correspondence.

No. Students have 5 working days after their final assessment to submit an MCE and may only submit one MCE, therefore to consider any MCEs prior to this would be unfair to other students. However, if the interim Board are finalising marks and a student has failed a paper the department can email Sarah Ashley, Senior Assistant Clerk for advice. The Exam Board administrator on behalf of the Exam Board may contact the student to explain that they have failed a paper, to ask whether there are any mitigating circumstances that affected the paper, and to provide information on the resit options. Resit options can include delaying a resit where the resit would usually take place before the final exam board meeting. Where an interim board makes progression decisions, any additional information provided by the student in response to the Exam Board administrator query can be taken into account in the progression decision.

Board MCE consideration spreadsheet


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