The Radcliffe Camera seen from Carfax Tower
The Radcliffe Camera seen from Carfax Tower

The University has confirmed that it will not adopt a ‘safety net’ for students sitting exams in Trinity of this year.

Following the University’s closure last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, it adopted a safety net for all finalist undergraduates so that they would not receive a class mark lower than that which they had achieved in their preliminary first year examinations. 

However, this year’s finalists will not be receiving a blanket ‘safety net’ policy. Rather, exams will take place on a “new user-friendly and intuitive online assessment platform”.

Martin Williams, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor wrote in an email to the student body this afternoon:

In line with our targeted approach, and the Russell Group’s position, we will not be introducing a blanket ‘safety net’ for all students as was done in Trinity term 2020. This is because teaching and assessment is being structured and delivered in a more established way this year and with more support available. Nevertheless, in consultation with Oxford SU representatives, we are giving careful thought to what additional measures may be needed to support students and achieve fair degree outcomes in this year’s assessments. A further announcement will be made by the middle of Hilary term.

Students will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new system with access to a ‘demo’ version from February, and for students with Trinity exams, a practice exam on the platform.

It has already been announced that Classics Moderations, or ‘mods’ for short, will be replaced by a new Classic Preliminary examination.

This decision comes as Russell Group universities released a statement last Thursday announcing that it would not provide safety nets for its exams this year due to “the scarcity of pre-pandemic benchmarking data available for many students”, and out of “duty to all students to protect academic standards and uphold the integrity of our degrees.”

However, the University of York has defied this by announcing a safety net for its students and petitions for safety nets have been gaining traction across Russell Group Universities, such as this one with the University of Bristol which has gained upwards of 4,000 signatures.

The University of Oxford has been contacted for comment.

Anvee Bhutani

Anvee Bhutani is the former Managing Director of The Oxford Blue, having also held a variety of roles on the editorial and business teams. She is a penultimate year student at Magdalen College reading...