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Administration of Final Examinations Policy

Category Academic
Type Policy
Approved by  Council, 8 December 1998
Date Policy Took Effect 1 January 1999
Last Approved Revision 26 February 2016
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Responsible Officer Manager, Policy and Compliance
Review Date 26 February 2021

Purpose

This policy is designed to ensure that the integrity of the examining process is preserved and that final examinations are conducted efficiently, with absolute accuracy and rigour, and in a manner which provides a consistent and appropriate examination environment for all students.

The policy details the responsibility of Student Administration and academic departments in administering final examinations, and highlights special provisions which are available to students in particular circumstances.

Organisational Scope

This policy applies to all staff and students involved with final examinations.

Definitions

Aegrotat Pass  - An ungraded pass result where, on the basis of Special Consideration for impairment, the examiners certify that the candidate’s performance and competence in the paper were well above the minimum standard required to pass the paper (normally taken as a C+ standard or better).

Alternative Arrangements  - Permission to sit an examination at a different time and/or a different location from that originally scheduled, or for other alternative arrangements to be allowed (e.g. the use of a reader/writer).

Blind Marking - Where the marker does not know the identity of the student whose work is being marked.

Examination Paper - The document containing examination questions and instructions which is prepared by the University for a particular paper.

Examination Period  - The period at the end of each semester during which final examinations are standardly scheduled.

Examination Script - The paperwork containing a student’s responses to a final examination.

Group Leader, Examinations – for the purposes of this policy, the Group Leader(s) within Student Administration tasked with oversight of the Examinations process.

Policy Content

1. General

(a) This policy should be read in conjunction with the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014, which govern the conduct of examinations at the University.

(b) The academic principles of assessment are detailed in the Guidelines for the Assessment of Student Performance.

(c) Primary responsibility for ensuring that the departmental responsibilities highlighted in this policy are observed rests with the Head of Department concerned.

(d) Breaches of this policy by staff will be viewed very seriously by the University. Breaches will be reported to, and dealt with by, the Head of Department, Dean or Pro-Vice-    Chancellor depending upon the seriousness. Any instance of repeated serious breaches will always be reported to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and will normally be included in the Performance Review of the staff member concerned.

(e) Any Report on Examinations submitted by the Group Leader, Examinations shall draw attention to any problems with, or need for amendment to, this policy.

2. Provision of General Examination Information

(a) The Senate shall approve Examination Rules governing student conduct in relation to final examinations. These rules shall be publicised by Student Administration.

(b) Student Administration will make information available on the University website, clearly setting out the purposes, provisions and procedures relating to alternative arrangements for final examinations, special consideration in final examinations, and examinations missed through preventable circumstances.

3. Examination Timetable

(a) In order to support examination timetabling, Student Administration will request that departments provide summary examination information for each relevant paper by:

  • early January for Summer School examinations;
  • early March for first semester examinations;
  • mid-July for second semester examinations.

(b) As per the Guidelines for the Assessment of Student Performance, in setting internal assessment tasks departments should be aware that:

i. All internal assessment must be marked and available to students before the day of the final examination.
ii. Any feedback on internal assessment tasks which is at all relevant to preparation for the final examination should be provided at least one week before the final examination (variations to this guideline may apply for Summer School).

(c) Within examination periods all Sundays, and Labour Day (the fourth Monday in October) and the Saturday before Labour Day, shall be examination-free days.

(d) The examination period at the end of first semester is restricted to a period of 13 days. The examinations should not start until the Wednesday of the week following the last day of teaching. Once the examinations begin, the only examination-free days within the first semester examining period shall be the Sunday(s).

(e) The Examinations Timetable will be published no later than:

  • three weeks before the first day of final examinations for Summer School (normally late January);
  • six weeks before the first day of final examinations for first semester (normally late April);
  • seven weeks before the first day of final examinations for second semester (normally late August).

(f) The organisation of written final examinations outside the normal examining period will only be permitted with the written approval of the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor and only if this is provided before the time when information about the timetabling of examinations is requested. In such cases, the Head of Department concerned shall be responsible for:

i. sending a copy of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor's approval to the Group Leader, Examinations;
ii. setting the date and time of the examination;
iii. arranging the examination venue;
iv. informing the candidates of these details;
v. arranging for supervisors and their payment where members of the Department's staff are not used;
vi. printing the examination paper in the prescribed format; and,
vii. lodging a copy of the examination paper with the Student Administration for inclusion in Library sets of examination papers.

4. Preparation of Examination Papers

(a) Student Administration will send departments detailed instructions and guidelines on the preparation of examination papers in:

  • mid-January for Summer School examinations;
  • early April for first semester examinations;
  • early August for second semester examinations.

(b) Master copies of each examination paper must be received by the Student Administration before:

  • the first working day in February for Summer School examinations;
  • the first working day in May for first semester examinations;
  • the first working day in September for second semester examinations.

(c) In delivering examination papers to Student Administration for printing, departments are responsible for:

i. ensuring the complete accuracy of the examination paper, in presentation and content (two signatures are required to verify this, normally those of one examiner and the Head of Department);
ii. providing final confirmation of the duration of the examination;
iii. indicating any materials which candidates are permitted to bring into the examination, such as calculators, texts, etc.;
iv. indicating whether the examination paper may be published afterwards by the Library;
v. providing the name and contact details of an examiner who may be contacted on the day of the examination, and at any time during the examination; and,
vi. delivering the paper in person if the department is in Dunedin (papers from departments outside Dunedin should be marked 'Confidential' and sent by courier; the internal mail system must not be used).

(d) The achievement by Departments of accuracy in the content, presentation and instructions of examination papers is fundamental to the University's commitment to quality. 

5. Alternative Arrangements due to Significant Other Commitments

(a) Alternative arrangements for sitting an examination at an alternative time and/or place may be considered where the candidate is prevented from sitting the examination at the prescribed time and/or place by:

i. competing or participating as a national representative; or competing or officiating at an international competition recognised by a fully constituted international governing body; or trialling, as a genuine contender, for selection as a national representative, as verified by a fully constituted national governing body.
ii. a bereavement in their immediate family;
iii. the wedding of a member of their immediate family; or a wedding in which they are to be a member of the wedding party;
iv. serious illness or incapacity (candidate or immediate family);
v. a posting as a member of the New Zealand Armed Forces, NZ Police, or a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and/or
vi. religious commitments.

(b) Requests for alternative arrangements based on the criteria in 5(a) above should be made to Student Administration, by the following deadlines.

  • 1 February for the Summer School examinations;
  • 1 May for first semester examinations;
  • 1 September for second semester examinations.

6. Alternative Arrangements due to Disability or Impairment

(a) Alternative arrangements for sitting an examination may be considered for candidates with disabilities, impairments, medical conditions or injuries. Such arrangements may include:

i. examination material in different formats;
ii. a reader and/or writer;
iii. permission to sit the examination in an alternative venue; and/or
iv. additional time (normally 10 minutes per hour of examination time).

(b) Applications for alternative arrangements for candidates with disabilities should be made online via eVision, and with the required supporting documentation, by:

  • 1 February for Summer School examinations;
  • 7 May for first semester examinations;
  • 7 September for second semester examinations.

7. During the Examination

(a) The examiner, or an appropriate substitute, named as the contact person for a paper must be able to be contacted by telephone at any time during the examination, and have immediate access to a copy of the examination paper.

(b) Other rules and requirements shall be as specified in the Senate-approved Examination Rules, promulgated by Student Administration.

8. Special Consideration (Impaired Performance)

(a) For all University final examinations, other than Special Examinations, a candidate who has been prevented from taking the examination through illness or other circumstances beyond their control or whose performance in the examination or the 14-day period immediately prior to the examination has been seriously impaired by illness or other exceptional circumstances beyond their control, may apply for special consideration.

(b) Provisions and processes for special consideration are laid out in Clause 5 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.

9. Examinations Missed Through Preventable Circumstances

(a) A student who is a finalist (i.e. enrolled for a course of study sufficient to complete a qualification in the semester or year concerned) or a postgraduate student, and who misses a final examination through genuine error, such as mistaking the time or date of the examination, may apply to sit a Special Examination.

(b) Provisions and processes for examinations missed through preventable circumstances are laid out in Clause 7 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.

10. Examination Results

(a) The achievement by Departments of accuracy in the marking and checking of examination scripts, and the subsequent timely and accurate return of results to the Student Records Office is fundamental to the University's commitment to quality.

(b) Where practical blind marking shall be used in final examinations.

(c) Student Administration will formally notify students of their results through the student portal on the eVision Student Management System.

(d) Summer School and first semester results will be made available as early as possible in order to provide students sufficient time to reflect on results, to make any necessary changes to their subsequent course, and for such changes to be taken into account in any streaming and timetable exercises which need to take place before the commencement of the subsequent semester.

(e) Grades and levels of award are laid out in Clause 9 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.

11. Recounts of Marks

(a) Any candidate for a degree, diploma or other qualification may have their marks recounted in any paper or subject. A recount of marks shall cover a careful re-check of the marks recorded by the examiner, and ensure that no answer or any portion of an answer, or work done during the teaching period which counts towards the final result, has been overlooked. Work is not re-marked.

(b) Provisions and processes for the recount of marks are laid out in Clause 11 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.


12. Retention of, and Access to, Examination Scripts and Papers

(a) Departments are required to retain examination scripts for twelve weeks from the date of the official release of confirmed final results for that teaching period.

(b) Further provisions and requirements relating to examination scripts are laid out in Clause 12 of the Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014.

(c) Student Administration will ensure examination papers are retained in accordance with the University’s Records Management Policy and legislative requirements.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

o Examination and Assessment Regulations 2014
o Guidelines for the Assessment of Student Performance
o Guidelines for Alternative Arrangements for Internal Assessment, including Tests and Examinations
o Examination Rules
o Records Management Policy

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, please contact the Manager, Policy and Compliance on chris.stoddart@otago.ac.nz.