Undergraduate student safety net

What is the safety net?

The safety net is a way of guaranteeing in advance what the lowest your final academic-year average will be, provided you qualify to pass the year.

The safety net takes into account what you have achieved in work submitted up to the 13 March 2020. We then put a peg in place that says given what we know so far this is the ‘safety net score’. You will get to know what this score is prior to the summer assessments and, provided you qualify to pass the year, your academic-year average will not be lower

This will apply to undergraduate students who are in second year or above at this point including integrated masters students, but not including HYMS MBBS students.

The safety net score does not mean you can stop your studies or opt out of summer assessments.

Following the summer term assessments we will apply the rules as normal to calculate your average for the year. If your assessment score takes your mark up higher than your safety net score, then this higher score becomes your new overall score. If, however, the results of your summer assessments would take your mark down below your given safety net score, then we will use your safety net score. In short, we will take whichever overall score is the higher- your end of year score or your safety net score.

Please note: The safety net score does not prevent you from being able to apply for exceptional circumstances. We understand this situation is impacting everyone differently, and that for some students it may not be possible properly to engage with their study or assessment at some points in the coming months. If this is the case for you, please see the information on exceptional circumstances.

Who does the safety net apply to?

The safety net applies to undergraduate students who are in second year or above at this point including integrated masters students, but not including HYMS MBBS students.

The safety net can only be used by students who meet the requirements to progress to the next year or, in final year, to be awarded their degree. This means you still have to pass your modules to progress (by earning a mark of 40 or above or having modules compensated) and, in most cases, that means you still need to complete your summer term assessments. In any case, we expect all students to continue with their studies until the end of the academic year 2019/20.

Integrated masters students will only have to meet the requirements to progress to the next year of the Bachelor’s degree. See the integrated masters question below for more details.

Some students whose degrees are externally accredited, or overseen by Professional Standards Bodies may not be eligible to use a safety net score because of the nature of their qualification. This won’t be the case for most students but may affect those working to get a degree that gives them a professional title of some kind. We are working with these bodies to determine what they will allow: if you are on one of these programmes, your department will be in touch about what this means for you once we know for sure. These details may take some time to determine. So please be patient if you are in this position - it’s important to all of us that you can have your degrees accredited.

How is the safety net score calculated?

The principle we will apply to the calculation of the safety net is that if you have completed 60 credits “worth” of assessments, or more, prior to 13 March 2020, in the current academic year, then the average mark for these assessments is your safety net. If you do not have 60 credits worth of marks available, we will make up the “missing” credits using your previous year’s mark. In this way, we will always have at least 60 credits of assessments on which to base your safety net score. This is the minimum number of credits that we can use to be sure that we’re accurately reflecting your achievements.

The calculation will be done in the following steps for each student:

We will work out the credit value of all the assessments in the 2019/20 academic year with submission dates before 13 March 2020. This will be done for all individual completed assessments, regardless of whether or not there are other assessments for a module that have not been completed. This will take into account both the number of credits for the module and the percentage contribution of each assessment to the module.

  1. We will work out the credit value of all the assessments in the 2019/20 academic year with submission dates before 13 March 2020. This will be done for all individual completed assessments, regardless of whether or not there are other assessments for a module that have not been completed. This will take into account both the number of credits for the module and the percentage contribution of each assessment to the module.
  2. We will calculate a total, credit-weighted, average of all those assessments in step 1.
  3. If the total credit value of the assessments (step 1) is 60 credits or more, then the credit-weighted average of those assessments (step 2) will be the safety net. If this is not the case, then see step 4.
  4. If the total credit value of the assessments in the current academic year (step 1) is less than 60 credits, then the missing credits (i.e. to make up 60) will be assigned a score of the year-average for the previous academic year for which there are numerical marks available. The average across the full 60 credits then forms the safety net score.

For some second-year students, this will mean using an average of their first year marks. We’ll only be using first year marks to fill in the ‘gap’ in available second year marks. We’re doing this because deciding on a whole year’s average based on a tiny amount of assessed work (say, a student who has only done one in-class presentation, or had a series of problem papers that they didn’t take that seriously because they didn’t “count” for much) would mean wildly unpredictable and unfair results.

Similarly, for some third year students, the ‘gap’ will be filled with their second year average, and for fourth year (integrated masters) students, the ‘gap’ will be filled with their third year average. See the integrated masters question below for more details.

Estimate your safety net score

You can use this estimator to give you an approximation of your safety score. Please be aware that the score generated is only as accurate as the information you can provide and should be taken as an indication of your likely safety net score, not a certainty.

We have also prepared a worked through example of what a safety net calculation might look like and how it will appear using the calculator above.

Other sources of academic support

The Maths and Writing Skills Centres are also there to support you with your academic needs. The Library services continue to provide you support with your resources, academic skills, and subject specific enquiries

Questions and answers

How will the safety-net score be used in my degree?

Every stage (year) of your degree generates a credit-weighted stage average. This average is calculated, and stored on your record, once you have passed the year and hence either progressed to the next year of your programme or met the criteria for award (if you're a finalist). Your stage averages are used to determine progression from one year to the next and (apart from your Year-1 average) are eventually combined when you graduate to determine your degree class.

For this year only, as long as you pass/progress as normal, we will calculate your stage average two different ways - either the normal way or using your safety-net score. Whichever is the largest will be stored on your record as your stage average, and this is the number that will be used in future years when we need to use it (e.g. when your degree class is calculated).

For second- or third-year integrated masters students, there are some other progression criteria in addition to the stage average, but the safety net score will still be used. See the question on integrated masters.

How will progression between years of integrated masters be determined, and how will the safety-net work for integrated masters students?

Progression from Year 2 to Year 3, and Year 3 to Year 4 of integrated masters programmes have additional progression requirements. The following explains how this will work, in the context of the safety net.

If you are a year 2 or year 3 integrated masters student, you will be given a safety-net score as long as you meet the progression criteria for the bachelor's degree (which requires a rounded stage average of 40).

Progression from Year 2 to Year 3 requires that students achieve a first-attempt stage average of 55 to progress onto Year 3 of the integrated masters. For this year only, you only need to pass the year with a mark of 40 to progress to Year 3 of the integrated masters.

Progression from Year 3 to Year 4 requires a stage average of 40 in Year 3 to pass the year and also requires that the credit-weighted average of all your marks in Years 2 and 3 is at least 50. For this latter calculation, for Year 3 students, your safety-net score for Year 3 will be used (if it is better than your stage average calculated the normal way).

What if I had resits in the previous academic year? How will this affect the safety-net score?

For many students, we will need to call on your previous year to make up the safety-net calculation, using the previous year's stage average. This will happen if you do not have 60 credits worth of assessment completed before 13 March 2020. The following explains how the stage-average is used in that calculation if you had resits the previous year.

For Year 3 (and Year 4 integrated masters) students, on your most recent progression letter (at the end of last year) you should find a year mark for your last academic year that is specified as the '...stage mark used for classification calculation'. This is the mark that will be used in your safety net calculation. If you had resits, this mark may be lower than the stage-average following resits. This is because at York we use first-attempt marks to determine classification, and this requirement has not changed.

For Year 2 students, the Year 1 mark used in your safety net calculation will be either the stage-average calculated using all your first attempt marks (including any 'sits as if for the first time') or a stage average of 39.5, whichever is the higher. This is equivalent to how it is done for other stages.

I am a direct-entrant to Year 2 of the programme. Can I still have a safety net?

If you were a direct entrant into year 2 of the programme, and you do not have 60 credits of assessments completed by 13 March 2020, then unfortunately we will not be able to offer a safety net score.

I was awarded an extension to an assignment that was due for submission before 13 March, but which was submitted after 13 March. Will this be included in the safety net calculation?

We will not include this in the safety-net calculation, since it was submitted after 13 March. The principle of our safety-net policy is that we define a cut-off point, beyond which we consider there to be increased likelihood of assessments being affected by the circumstances of the pandemic. To treat all students equitably and with consistency, we must apply this cut off to all submitted work for all students.

I have been awarded 'sits as if for the first time' for some assessments that were taken before 13 March 2020 (eg January exams) and I am yet to take these assessments. How will this affect my safety net score?

If you have taken or submitted assessments before 13 March, and you have been awarded a sit 'as if for the first time' (as a result of an upheld ECA claim), which you have not yet taken, then we will not include any first-attempt marks you may have for these assessments in your safety-net calculation. This is because you have already confirmed to us that you believe these assessments may be affected by your circumstances.

Not all of the assessments for the current stage of my programme were completed in 2019/20 - some were completed in the previous academic year. How will my safety net be calculated?

This could happen if, for example, you have been on leave of absence. The safety net score is calculated by first considering all the completed assessments for the stage of the programme on which you are currently registered, as long as they were submitted before 13 March 2020. We will include all of these assessments, regardless of when you completed them, even if that was before this 2019/20 academic year. If 60 credits worth of marks are not available, in total, we will then make up the difference using the stage average for the last completed stage of your programme - again, regardless of when that stage was completed.

Some of my modules, or some components of my modules, are assessed as “pass/fail” (ie the assessment does not carry a numerical mark). How is this handled in the safety net calculation?

Any pass/fail modules, or components of modules that are assessed on pass/fail basis, will not be included in the safety net calculations when considering assessments in your current stage. This is because the university has decided that determination of a stage average, based on the performance so far in your stage, requires a minimum number of credits, with marks attached to them, to be available on which to base that average. Inclusion of pass/fail assessments would reduce further the number of credits on which the stage average is based.

I am currently on (or was about to return from) Leave of Absence from my studies and am due to take exams in the summer assessment period. Will the safety net still apply to me?

Yes. We will take all the assessments you have completed for your stage so far, regardless of when you took them (as long as it was before 13 March 2020) and use these assessments to determine your safety-net score.