Academic support for students

Monday 20 September 2021

In response to questions from the Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA), the University advises the following decisions and rationale for academic support for students.

We are cognisant of the pressures that students have been under as a result of recent Alert Level changes, and the current period of lockdown for Auckland. All of our staff members including our senior leadership team are also experiencing pressures. The safety of our students and staff remains our priority as we step through a series of decisions, aligning closely with Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) guidance.

Whilst last year’s rapid shift to remote delivery and online exams was a new experience for New Zealand universities, for the University of Auckland, and for our staff and students, this year the landscape is different. The majority of first year undergraduate students will have experienced remote delivery of teaching at school, and returning students will have experienced remote delivery of teaching at university. We have learned from the 2020 experience, meaning we were better prepared for this year’s lockdowns from a student support and a teaching and learning perspective. In addition, the University has invested heavily in ensuring students have the necessary devices to enable online study.

Academic support

  • Universal grade bump: The ‘universal grade bump’ that was adopted in Semester One last year, although well received by students, created a number of unintended consequences which we do not wish to repeat this year. Perhaps the most significant of these was that it resulted in some students progressing into their next level of study without having gained sufficient knowledge and skills. It is important that students can demonstrate they have gained the knowledge and skills from a course in order that they are sufficiently prepared to progress into their next level of study. Therefore this will not be offered in 2021. This is also the decision of all other New Zealand universities.

  • Fees free retake of failed courses: This initiative caused confusion and complaints from domestic students because of the Government’s Fees Free regime for first year students already in place. Therefore this will not be offered in 2021.

  • Failed courses excluded from GPA calculations: The University is happy to support this and will exclude Fail grades for Quarter Four, and Semester Two, 2021 from a student’s GPA if the course is subsequently retaken and passed. Note additional information will be provided to students for whom selection to limited entry programmes is relevant.

  • Fees free late deletions: We will extend the late course deletion date by one week, and the new deadline will coincide with the start of the examination period.

  • Fee free aegrotat or compassionate consideration process: We already have applications in progress and past experience is that such an offer would lead to the service being overwhelmed and outcomes delayed. This often disadvantaged students as delayed responses can impact enrolment opportunities for the next semester etc. Therefore this will not be offered in 2021. However, note students who are in genuine hardship can access financial support through the Student Emergency Fund.

  • Exams: Courses that previously had an exemption for in-person exams in Semester Two (the majority of which were to meet accrediting body requirements for secure assessments) will now be held online with the option of digital invigilation – apart from a very small number of final year courses required for professional registration (only under Alert Levels 1 or 2). All other exams will be held online and will be open book.

  • Fees free extension for postgraduate research (PGR) and doctoral students: As an acknowledgment of the potential impacts of Covid-19 on PGR students’ ability to complete their research component, a fees free extension is now available.

Ngā mihi

Dawn Freshwater
Vice-Chancellor

Bridget Kool
PVC Education

Valerie Linton
Provost