English students outraged after department loses exam papers

Second year English students have been left outraged after their Department managed to lose a dozen exam papers.

The Department has told the affected students they must submit an additional 2500 word essay over the summer to compensate for the loss of their exam.

A batch of 12 Critical Questions exam papers was sent from York to an examiner who had been called away to London due to a family medical emergency, but the scripts never arrived.

In an email to the affected students, Chair of the Board of Examiners Dr Victoria Coulson said “the examiner, the administrative staff in the department, and Royal Mail have made repeated efforts to track it down, but we have not been successful.

“Over the past two weeks we have done everything we could, in the hope that we would not have to send you this message, but it has now become clear that we have to accept that the scripts are lost.

“I am very sorry that we have to do this, but we have been advised by the university that there is no option other than to ask you to submit an additional piece of work. The University’s Standing Committee on Assessment, which sets university policy on all assessment related issues, requires a mark that relates specifically to the module in question.

On behalf of the department, I want to offer you my apology for inconveniencing you in this way.”

Understandably, some students whose papers were lost are furious with the department.

Affected student Emma Claydon told York Vision: “So basically, we got told in a lecture before our exam not to stress about the exam format, and to look at it as beneficial for real life contexts, as it is a way of stimulating more unique concepts and arguments – there are things I know I wrote that I didn’t even realise I knew, and now I’m being asked to write an essay on something that won’t be in any way near as original as what I wrote in the exam – I can’t remember what I wrote so I can’t even try to replicate it in an essay context.

“The email off the Chair of Examiners was pretty understanding, however there is an obvious attempt to cover up the real issue here: the papers should have been photocopied or scanned. I also don’t feel comfortable knowing that the department willingly sent my papers to be marked by someone who, if they were in our situation, would have got mitigating circumstances due to family medical emergencies; clearly, they were not in the frame of mind to seriously mark our papers if they were having to rush to London.

“I keep trying to rationalise it and think I’m becoming irrationally angry, however this is not GCSE or A level any longer, this is university and I’m paying £9000 a year. People are talking about compensation and legal advice because this is not our fault at all, but to be honest, I just want my mark back and a full explanation of why these papers were not photocopied.

“Even if it had meant they’d be a little late compared to others’ results, I wouldn’t have cared, so if this is due to rushing and carelessness by the department, then I’m going to be so much angrier than I am now.”

Another student caught up in the incident, Becky Welch, added: “Even though we’ve been told they will make it as easy as possible for us to redo I think it’s unacceptable that post wasn’t tracked and they were lost in the first place and that we’ve been told 2 weeks after the problem arose.

“All the revision that I did has now gone to waste and I feel like an excessive amount of my own time has been wasted.”

When asked by Vision for comment, the University Registrar & Secretary David Duncan said: “Twelve second year English Literature exam scripts which were in the care of an examiner have gone missing in the post.  The exam relates to a specific module and constitutes 11% of the students’ marks for the ​year.  The Standing Committee on Assessment, which oversees the integrity and fairness of the assessment system, has determined that the students must be asked to complete a further, take-home exam of equivalent difficulty.  The students will be required to complete this by 11 August so that the scripts can be assessed and the students can continue their studies without interruption in the autumn.

“The loss of exam scripts, while a very rare occurrence, is deeply regrettable.  The University has unreservedly apologised to the students affected; in addition, we will give careful consideration to an appropriate level of compensation.”
Update: The Head of the English Department has issued a statement on the incident.

8 Comments

  1. Uncle Joe
    10 June 2015 - 17:00 BST

    The students in question should be given serious monetary compensation.

    Asking them to do additional work over summer when they might be working or, God forbid, having a social life is unacceptable.

  2. Sophie
    10 June 2015 - 18:25 BST

    This is completely unacceptable, and the students involved should not take this without a fight.

    1. Submit a formal complaint setting out what you want – financial compensation, a mark based upon the average from your year’s marks, a free pass on another piece of work from later in the year, changes to the policy, etc etc

    https://www.york.ac.uk/about/departments/support-and-admin/academic-registry/complaints/

    2. If you are unhappy with their response, get in touch with the Office of the Adjucator for Higher Education http://www.oiahe.org.uk . They have the power to make binding orders on the Uni and the service is free for students.

    3. Get YUSU involved. Tron may be many things but you can’t deny he is an excellent campaigner for students. Get him fighting your corner.

    4. Make a bigger fuss. Get in touch with national media, contact your MP, whatever, put pressure on the department and don’t let them get away with this easily.

    5. Consider that legal advice. If one of you can reach out to friends or relatives who can advise, don’t hesitate to bring the law in to this. The uni has clearly neglected to photocopy these scripts or even bother to send them special delivery.

    Don’t think that because David Duncan quotes you the ‘university regulations’ that they can’t/wont do anything about it. Don’t let them get away with it by throwing you £50 and some bullshit apology, dont take anything less than the hours you will spend having to do it (let’s say 100) paid at the living wage.This is completely unacceptable and I have total sympathy for you. Fight this hard, I bet the 15,000 students of York will back you up.

  3. SOYLENT GREEN IS LOST EXAM PAPERS!!
    10 June 2015 - 20:17 BST

    I’d take £50 personally

  4. Beckie
    10 June 2015 - 21:08 BST

    Fight for this! Youre not in the wrong! Don’t be talked at! Stick up for yourselves!

  5. Uncle Joe
    11 June 2015 - 01:51 BST

    Everything about this story is unbelievable.

    The fact that the English Department expects a member of staff to mark exam papers at a time of personal distress or family emergency is disgusting. In most jobs you would be given reasonable time off for something like this. As was said in the article, if this had happened to a student, they would be well within their right to apply for mitigating circumstances. Apparently, though, universities have the same amount of regard for the well-being and mental health of their staff as they do their students and expect them to just get on with it. The examiner in question is a victim of a farcical cock by their Department here too.

    And how the bloody hell does nobody think to photocopy these exam scripts or, God forbid take, spend the extra bit of money on sending them by recorded delivery? Was the department rushing to send these papers off to a member of staff who shouldn’t even have been asked to mark them from London so badly that they didn’t think any of this through?
    Is it not standard procedure to back up exam scripts anyway? When students give essays in, they’re expected to provide two copies at their own cost; apparently the English Department can’t be bothered to make copies of pieces of work that aren’t backed-up on a PC and are being sent over 200 miles down the M1. It beggars belief on so many levels.

    This stinks. This is a major PR disaster not just for the English department but for the entire University, especially after the Computer Sciences fiasco. Are decent structural guidelines are not in place across the board and in all Departments at this uni to prevent such easily avoidable issues like these happening to begin with?
    The arrogance of the uni, too, to think that they could demand that their students write additional essays over the summer (for something that they are entirely blameless for) is astounding: did they not think that they would come up against some form of opposition? Do they have such a total disregard for the ability of students to have an enjoyable holiday?

    All the students who have been affected should take legal action and fight the university every step of the way until a fair deal is reached. A blatant error, that a year seven student could have avoided, has been made and the University are using their own internal bodies to set the goalposts to cover their tracks.

  6. Simon
    11 June 2015 - 07:06 BST

    Totally unacceptable, students should be given a compensation mark or else seek legal advice. I for example am working in America and would not be able to write an essay were I in this situation. Pathetic from the English department. They should be ashamed.

  7. charlotte
    11 June 2015 - 12:30 BST

    So the students are also fucked over if they have arranged internships and work for the summer? I thought the uni was here to help students, not make their lives worse.

  8. MJ
    11 June 2015 - 13:18 BST

    I completely agree with Sophie’s comment above, If you are one of these students, please comment and I will get in touch with you. I have kicked up shit storms so large in my time here over much smaller matters and got the results I wanted.

    The entire population of students will stand behind you because it could easily happen to us. Make yourself known and we will make sure you won’t write a single fucking word this summer.

    Stop with your ‘reservedness’ and thinking you are acting irrationally in being angry, legal action is what you need and legal action is what you will take.

Comments are closed.