Education, News, Politics & Society

University delays releasing exam results for Biological Science students

The release of exam results for second year Biological Sciences students has been delayed, meaning that they are one of the final groups in the University to receive their exam results.

Students were told in an email that the board of examiners will meet on 29 July or 30 July*, meaning that results must be returned to students no later than 13 August according to the University’s Academic Quality and Standards guidelines.

“We paid our tuition in full, and so we’re owed a certain standard of education, including timely marking, and we haven’t received that,” says a second year Neuroscience student.

The delay is caused by staff marking and assessment boycott during the exam period in response to the 26 members of staff being made redundant. Additionally, an email sent out by the department explained that papers unmarked by staff members on strike would be marked by algorithms, but this was later called an ‘unauthorised communication’ by the University.

An email sent to students on 23 July by the Dean of Education and Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences states that “progress to the third year [is possible] providing you have attempted all assessments and passed sufficient credits from the module marks currently available.”

This comes after a previous email promising to release exam results in the week ending 23 July, which was not fulfilled.

“The second reassessment period has been extended to 20 August (with coursework due at 8am on 16 August.”

The email continues, stating that staff are “sorry that there has been some disruption to the marking process this summer, but look forward to welcoming you back for the new academic year in September”

Screenshot of an email sent by the Dean of Education and Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences to second year Biological Sciences students on Friday 23 July 2021. 

The email reads: Dear Year 2 Students,

We are writing to update you on the actions we are taking in relation to assessment and student progression this year. 

As you will also be aware, some staff have been participating in industrial action over the past few weeks and this has affected marking on some programmes. Although we have taken steps to minimise the impact, on a few programmes it has become necessary to make alternative arrangements to allow you to progress to your next year of study whilst results are pending.

For year two students, the University has taken a decision to allow you to progress to the third year providing you have attempted all assessments and passed sufficient credits from the module marks currently available. Where this is the case, a ‘P’ grade will apply to your record at this stage and your actual mark will replace this as soon as it is available. Once marking has been completed if the mark you achieve is not a pass grade, the decision to allow you to progress into year 3 will remain.  You will be given the opportunity to re-sit failed assessments from year 2 at an appropriate time and be provided with appropriate support to enable you to re-take your assessments before you are due to graduate.  You will be required to pass enough credits overall from years 2 and 3 in line with the Scheme of Assessment in Senate Regulation 5 in order to graduate.

We will publish available results and reassessment requirements as soon as possible and a further update will be sent when we have a clearer indication of when any later results are likely to be released. The second reassessment period has been extended to 20 August (with coursework due at 8am on 16 August) to account for delays in the release of marks and to allow students to have sufficient preparation time. 
 
Where you have deferred your assessments, these will be scheduled within the same second assessment period that runs until 20th August and a schedule will be published shortly. Students who have previously been set a revised coursework deadline of 30 July following mitigating circumstances will now be given until 8am on 16 August to submit.

We are sorry that there has been some disruption to the marking process this summer, but look forward to welcoming you back for the new academic year in September. Please let us know if we can provide any support to you or if you have any questions about the above. 

With best wishes,

Karl Herbert PhD
Dean of Education
t: +44 (0)116 252 3435
e:  keh3@le.ac.uk 
w: www.le.ac.uk
and

Dr Mark Leyland SFHEA, UDTF
Deputy Head, School of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor in Biochemistry
t: 
e:  ml27@le.ac.uk
w: www.le.ac.uk

College of Life Sciences
University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
Image of email sent by the Dean of Education and Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences to second year Biological Sciences students on Friday 23 July 2021.

A subsequent email sent on 29 July reads: “The Board of Examiners are scheduled to meet this week and you will therefore receive your results and progression outcome/reassessment recommendations next week.” The email explains that a schedule of live assessments for the second assessment period will be published after publication of results.

Image of email sent by the Dean of Education and Head of the School of Biological Sciences to second year Biological Sciences students on Thursday 29 July 2021.  

The email reads: Dear students,

Further to the email that was sent to you last Friday, we are pleased to confirm that the Board of Examiners are scheduled to meet this week and you will therefore receive your results and progression outcome/reassessment recommendations next week. Once your results are available, you will receive an email advising you to log into MyStudentRecord.

We are aware that the second assessment period begins on Monday, and are therefore making every effort to ensure that second year assessments are scheduled from the following week to give you time to prepare. Following the publication of your results, a schedule of live assessments (such as end of module assessments) will be circulated via email. The deadline for non-live coursework submissions will be 8am on Monday 16th August as outlined in the email sent to you last week.

If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes,

Professor Colin R.A. Hewitt FRSB SFHEA
Head of School of Biological Sciences
t: +44 (0)116 252 5587
e: crah1@le.ac.uk 

and

Karl Herbert PhD
Dean of Education
t: +44 (0)116 252 3435
e:  keh3@le.ac.uk 
College of Life Sciences
University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
Image of email sent by the Dean of Education and Head of the School of Biological Sciences to second year Biological Sciences students on Thursday 29 July 2021.


Currently, some, but not all, students can see a ‘P’ on My Student Record if they have submitted all coursework on time. Some students are yet to receive marks for assignments that were due in May, such as those for BS2040 Bioinformatics.

Sophie, who studies Medical Genetics, plans to apply for the Scientist Training Programme (STP) after graduating. She says: “I want to apply for work experience next year and nobody is going to take me if I can’t give them a predicted grade.”

Senior tutor Dr Mark Leyland reassured students that: “We will still be able to issue predicted grades for any courses applied for or job applications.”**

A Medical Physiology student explains that she has “bad anxiety, especially surrounding results” and has “struggled meeting deadlines with poor mental health” during the pandemic.

“It’s made me not only seriously reconsider applying for any graduate degrees at Uni of Leicester but feel unstable as someone going into 3rd year too.”

Adam, who studies Neuroscience, says: “I understand that delays are part of education at every level, however the staff and Uni have refused to establish a clear deadline and have consistently been vague in their responses to students.”


When contacted by Leicester Student Magazine for comment, UCU Leicester directed students to this guide to explain why UCU members “decided that they had no alternative but to take industrial action.”

The University of Leicester did not respond to our initial request for comment, but responded after publication of this article on Friday 30 July.

A University of Leicester spokesperson said:

“We are aware that due to ongoing industrial action, some second year students within the School of Biological Sciences are yet to receive their exam results.

“We have been prioritising marking our Finalists exam modules to ensure they can graduate, however we are doing all we can to ensure our second year students can progress onto their third year of study.

“Students can be reassured that staff within the School have been working around the clock to process and verify marks, ensure that standards have been maintained and that outcomes are in accordance with Senate Regulations.”

*An email sent to students after initial publication of the article confirmed that the board of examiners met on Friday 30 July.

**The comment by Dr Mark Leyland was added after initial publication of the article.


If you are affected by the delayed exam results, please see the Students’ Union page for support. You can submit a complaint about industrial action to the University before 20th August 2021 here.

Image: University of Leicester.


Zainab Patel is a second-year Medical Physiology Student from Leicester. She has a passion for all things science and technology, crime novels and plants. Find her on Twitter: @zainabbpatell or Instagram: @zainabb_patell