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4. What Should Be Monitored

As a guide, the University expects departments to identify appropriate formal “monitoring points” across the year in line with the below table:

 

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Summer

Full-Time Undergraduate

6 points

4 points

1 point (attendance at exams)

None

Full-Time Taught Postgraduate

6 points

4 points

1 point (attendance at exam/completion of assessed work)

2 Points (dissertation related)

Full-Time Postgraduate Research (up until final submission approved by examiner)

Monthly supervisions/ annual review/upgrade/ research skills training sessions

Monthly supervisions/annual review/upgrade / research skills training sessions

Monthly supervisions/annual review/upgrade/ research skills training sessions

Monthly supervisions/annual review/upgrade/ research skills training sessions

Departments are expected to use the template monitoring scheme at Appendix A unless this is not possible given the structure of teaching and assessments on the course. The template monitoring scheme comprises a mix of different sorts of monitoring, including attendance at relevant teaching or similar sessions, meeting with staff (e.g. personal tutor/supervisor) submission of assessed work and/or attendance at examinations. Where the template scheme cannot be used departments must use similar types of monitoring points.

For postgraduate students and undergraduates on work or study abroad placements some of the monitoring points could be via email/online where appropriate (e.g. over the summer months/during work on dissertations/fieldwork/module registration/or electronic submission of work) but a significant proportion (at least 8 monitoring points) should be via face-to-face contact during taught aspects of taught courses or (at least 6 monitoring points) during in-person supervision meetings for research courses. Where research students undertake extended periods of research or fieldwork away from the University face-to-face supervisions may be undertaken online via Skype or similar system. It may be appropriate that during periods of extension more of the monitoring points could be via email exchange. If Tier 4 research students undertake extended periods of fieldwork or research away from the University advice should be sought from the International Office regarding the University’s legal obligations in these situations (see Section 4(e) below).

For undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses, and where taught research skills sessions are used for research degrees, monitoring points should be spread across a term rather than condensed into a short period during the term. They should be based on expected interactions within that term so could take into account breaks from formal teaching such as reading weeks where departments would not expect to interact with students

Where a student misses three of the “monitoring points” the Academic Office will write to the student and the department will receive a copy of this e-mail. The department is required to investigate with the student what problems they may be experiencing, to support their full engagement with the course and to explain the consequences of missing further monitoring points. Departments may decide that they wish to initiate such discussions before three “monitoring points” are missed. Where four "monitoring points" are missed, it is likely that a student's problems are such that they should be encouraged to seek advice and support from the Department or University Senior Tutor. Where a student misses five “monitoring points” it is likely that the student is at risk of imminent withdrawal or failure, so appropriate action should be taken immediately.

Where a student has missed six formal “monitoring points” in one academic year the Academic Office will notify the Director of Graduate/Undergraduate Studies that the student should be referred to the Continuation of Registration Committee as set out in University Regulation 36 - Governing Student registration, attendance and progress. The department will be given an opportunity to present any reasons why such a referral might not be appropriate. The department may wish to seek advice on this from their Faculty Board Secretary or the Academic Office. The Department will receive copies of correspondence sent to the student at this point.

Where a student has missed eight formal “monitoring points” in one academic year the Department or the Academic Registrar will need to invoke the process outlined in University Regulation 36 - Governing Student registration, attendance and progress.

Departments should agree for themselves what constitutes “monitoring points” for their courses. A “monitoring point” should preferably be a single event, such as attendance at a specific taught class or personal tutorial meeting, or submission of a piece of assessed work. Using a single event as a “monitoring point” is more straightforward to record than using attendance across a term, and ensures that absences are identified immediately rather than after a period of weeks. Where departments wish to use attendance over a period of time, this should be divided into shorter intervals than a term (see section 4(a) below).

A department’s Directors of Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies (or equivalent) are likely to play a central role in establishing and operating these arrangements. Many departments operate Student Progress Boards; where this is the case, these Progress Boards are likely to serve as a forum for discussion of any issues which arise.

Formal structures to assess progression, such as end-of-year Exam Boards or processes for considering upgrades from MPhil to PhD also serve as useful occasions for monitoring student engagement and progress.

The following are types of student engagement and activity which departments are expected to monitor. Arrangements for research postgraduates will differ from those for taught courses:

(a) Teaching sessions (e.g. lectures, seminars, tutorials, labs etc)

Good attendance at teaching sessions is a clear indication of student engagement. The template monitoring scheme uses monitoring of attendance at teaching sessions and, where the template scheme cannot be
used, it is recommended that departments include some monitoring of attendance in their approach.

This might include:

  • attendance at lectures
  • attendance at seminars and tutorials
  • attendance at lab sessions
  • attendance at supervisions
  • attendance at meetings with a project supervisor
  • attendance at taught research skills sessions for research students

For the purpose of recording attendance at monitoring points departments are required to keep records of all who have attended. Records should not be kept by exception. However it is good practice to monitor attendance not only for monitoring points but for all teaching sessions, wherever possible, recognising that this is not always viable, for example in some large lectures. Departments are encouraged to review attendance records regularly, to identify any students who may be experiencing difficulties. Being able to review attendance across modules can be useful in identifying patterns of absence which are not apparent from a single module.

The template scheme at Annex A identifies single teaching sessions as monitoring points rather than attendance at a proportion of classes over a given period of time. This approach is recommended. However where this is not appropriate for some courses of study, and attendance is monitored over a period of time, the timescales should be short and should not extend beyond five weeks. This is to ensure that data on attendance is collected regularly and non-attendance can be identified promptly.

In extreme cases, where students are ultimately subject to formal proceedings to terminate their registration under University Regulation 36 - Governing Student registration, attendance and progress - through the Continuation of Registration Committee, a department must have reliable records which indicate the level of a student’s engagement.

(b) Assessment submission, exam attendance

Assessment submission and examination attendance are used as part of monitoring engagement in the template scheme. Departments generally have in place systems for monitoring the submission of coursework (e.g. via the Assignment Management System or Moodle). Attendance at viva voce examinations should be included as a monitoring point for postgraduate research students for Tier 4 students. Where submission of assessed work is used as a monitoring point, the date of submission should fall within the same term as the stated point.

(c) Personal tutorials

Personal tutorials are organised differently across departments but all must conform to the minimum requirements set out in the Guidelines for Personal Tutors. Where students meet their personal tutors individually either termly or twice-termly, these are ideal opportunities for personal tutors and students to reflect
together on progress, as well as serving as a monitoring point. Brief records must be kept. Where a tutor meets groups of tutees weekly, for example to work through module-related problems sets, attendance is likely to be monitored already, and the tutor is likely to be in a good position to identify students who may be experiencing problems or in need of extra support. For students on research degrees, meetings with supervisors or advisers/mentors/Director of Graduate Studies could fulfil the same range of functions. Personal tutors should receive regular reports from their tutees’ module leaders regarding concerns they might have regarding attendance and engagement

(d) Discussion of assessed work and exam marks

Discussion of ongoing work on dissertations, theses, research projects or other forms of assessed work is important in supporting students through this process and should also be used as a monitoring point.

Interim and end-of-year/stage exam boards, upgrade meetings and similar events might serve as opportunities to review students’ engagement.

Monitoring of engagement of research students through supervisory meetings may cease when a student submits their thesis, where those students do not hold a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK. However there is a requirement for the University to continue to monitor the attendance of Tier 4 students and therefore further points of engagement with research students such as the viva examination and resubmission of the thesis, must continue to be monitored until the examiners approve the final thesis submission. However, should Steering Committee determine that the student has failed, any period of further extension granted to the student will necessitate the need for monthly monitoring to resume.

(e) Period of study away from the University

It is recognised that there are instances when students, particularly postgraduate students, will undertake periods of study away from the University. Examples include students undertaking research for a dissertation or PhD away from the University during periods of extension or when fieldwork is being undertaken. In these cases, e-mail contact should demonstrate some form of academic progress which might include, for instance, reports on research undertaken or drafts of written work (within the guidelines set out above on the appropriate proportion of remote monitoring points). However there are specific reporting requirements for students holding Tier 4 visas to study in the UK should they travel overseas to undertake some of their studies, thus changing their principal site of study, and departments would check these legal obligations with the University’s International Office.