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Coronavirus: Teaching, learning and assessment FAQs

Written by Communications Team
Published date 06 April 2020

These frequently asked questions (FAQs) cover teaching, learning and assessment. Additional FAQs will be published shortly.

For further information about UAL's response to coronavirus, visit our information page.


Who should I speak to about my concerns?

Please read these FAQs thoroughly. They are frequently updated in line with the questions you are asking us.

If your query is not answered by these FAQs:

Will you extend the deadline for submissions?

We are considering this at University level, as well as on a unit-by-unit basis and course by course. Where the course leader and programme director feel that the new online submission requirements need extra time, then we will extend the deadline. This is likely to be the case for final-year students, where the final submission is the culmination of their study at UAL and where we consider that new working methods may require more time. We are making it an absolute priority that students will have the time and support they need to complete their course so that they can progress or graduate this year.

Why are you requiring us to progress and graduate this year?

Like other UK universities, we are putting in place the right measures to allow fair progression and graduation. It is in every student’s interest to progress or graduate according to the normal calendar for the academic year (taking into account that deadlines may need extending). This is also true for school pupils completing A-levels and GCSEs this year.

Many students would find it difficult to delay completion of their studies because they need to return home or start paid work. Some students would not be able to return to London from where they are now based. Suspending studies indefinitely would increase uncertainty at an already stressful time – we do not know how long the public emergency will last. The government are unlikely to extend student loans beyond the completion date for degrees.

Aren’t we going to lose teaching input?

A large part of this year’s teaching has already been delivered for further education, undergraduate and some postgraduate students. Accordingly, we are confident we can deliver teaching, and ensure you progress and graduate. Staff are looking for ways to present and deliver relevant learning that would facilitate student progression in the context of coronavirus and the impacts of the recent strike. Our academic support for you includes online delivery, and help from technical, library and other digital support staff.

What about postgraduate students?

UAL offers a number of different models for postgraduate courses, from Extended Full Time (at CSM) to 15-month delivery. Each course will have different ways of getting through the next few months. We are confident that we can deliver postgraduate units that will start in the summer.

As with final-year undergraduate students, we will ensure postgraduate students can access facilities later in the year to complete the production of final work.

I am an international student. How will you ensure teaching works across time-zones and in different regions?

A large part of this year’s teaching has already been delivered for further education, undergraduate and some postgraduate students. Accordingly, we are confident we can deliver teaching, and ensure students progress and graduate whether or not they are in London. Our support for students includes online delivery, and help from technical, library and other digital support staff.

We will ensure this is accessible to students wherever they are.

How will reasonable adjustments for disabled students be implemented?

Course teams will take into account the needs of all students and discuss them on a case by case basis. The Student Disability Service is very involved in the whole process. Individual Support Agreements will be reviewed with students and course teams to ensure that remote learning and assessment are accessible.

What if I find it difficult to access the internet and/or basic technology?

Online and physical facilities will vary from student to student. Course teams will advise you on alternative methods, if you find online access difficult. We will take into account individual circumstances in the way we design tasks and assess work, and will guide you through your decisions and production processes.

What if I need to rent additional machinery?

We do not expect students to rent additional machinery and given the closure of non-essential business this may be difficult. Their assessment tasks will take into account the tools they have to hand.  We are ensuring that the Hardship Fund supports those students who are most in need.

How can we make work, which in many cases demands access to technical facilities, if we cannot get in the University?

Students may have very limited access to facilities and equipment at home. We will design the delivery of the curriculum to ensure students can develop work in these circumstances. In many cases this will mean creating work through:

  • low-tech solutions
  • communication of your ideas and concepts
  • your plans for realisation
  • digitised pages from sketchbooks, mock-ups etc

Teaching teams will guide you - they will be flexible and open to different ways of presenting work. They are also expert in understanding the quality of your ideas from your proposals.

Won’t the quality of my work be affected?

In some cases, the type of work you submit may be different. We have the skills and expertise to allow for these differences and apply good academic judgement about the quality of your work. For final-year students, we will strive to offer facilities later in the year, after you graduate, to refine your work for your portfolios and an alternative degree show (see below).

How will you work out my grades? (Final year students)

We will make summer-term units as enriching and exciting as possible for first and second-year students, building anything you missed into next year. Grades for final year students will be based on work to date plus the new submission that your course will set you.  Exam Boards will be encouraged to take a rounded view of your performance including both your past results and your most recent progress.

We will test results against those achieved in previous years and ensure that the whole picture is comparable.

How can you ensure that all students are assessed equally, given the different locations we are all in?

Your course teams are working hard on forms of submission and assessment that do not demand specialist equipment or special access. We are aware that students have differing levels of access to resources (space, internet access, technical equipment) and so will take this into account in our assessment strategies. This will assess the quality of your thinking and your understanding of the context of your work, not your digital submission skills.

Why have you announced the suspension of the summer degree shows?

The public health emergency made it impossible to plan summer degree shows at the usual time, given that public gatherings have been banned in the UK for the foreseeable future.

How will you assess my work without a physical degree show in the summer? (summer graduating students)

Courses are no longer assessed in show. In all courses, we have now separated out your assessment from the degree show, so your final grade is not dependent on showing your work in public.

What are your plans if there is no physical degree shows this summer? (summer graduating undergraduate and postgraduate students)

We are planning for an extensive online platform to show and celebrate your work in June/July. This presents a new creative opportunity for us to show the world how UAL and its students can shift into open digital platforms which will reach much wider audiences.

Can we have a degree show at some other time? (summer graduating students)

In many courses, degree shows matter a lot to individuals and to the course community. Many of you have contacted us to say this, and we have listened to what you said in online petitions.

We aim to provide a public showcase for your graduate work, subject to the course of the pandemic, to students and courses who want it. This would enable you to present your work in a venue and to collectively celebrate your achievements. We will consult you on the best way to achieve this in a way that does not exclude students who are not able to attend in person. Ideally, we would hold the graduation ceremonies at the same time as any showcase.

Will I have access to the workshops and other facilities later in the year to complete my work (2019-20 graduating students)

For final year undergraduate and postgraduate students, we are hoping to provide access to facilities later in the summer, after you have finished your course, to allow you to complete aspects of your work for your portfolio and the showcase, but this is of course dependent on the state of the pandemic and its effects. Please note that this will be after you have been assessed, and so any extra work at that stage will not affect your grade.

Why did you cancel the July graduation ceremony?  

The venue for our graduation, Royal Festival Hall, has been closed due to the public health emergency. We also felt it irresponsible to suggest families should travel to such an event at this time.

What is the position with visas?

Please see this information on visas. This is subject to regular updates because of emerging government guidance and policy.

Where can I turn to for advice and support?

For advice and support on your specific course, you should turn to your stage leader, course leader or programme director as appropriate. If you have other broader questions or concerns, please email your college and the relevant person will respond:

For other forms of support and advice, here are some links:

Academic Support Online

Library online resources

Library Subject Guides

Help and support for students

Can I defer my studies due to the coronavirus outbreak?

Like other UK universities, we are putting in place the right measures to allow fair progression and graduation. It is in every student’s interest to progress or graduate according to the normal calendar for the academic year (taking into account that deadlines may need extending). This is also true for UK students completing A-levels and GCSEs this year.

Many students would find it difficult to delay completion of their studies because they need to return home or start paid work. Some students would not be able to return to London from where they are now based. Suspending studies indefinitely would increase uncertainty at an already stressful time – we do not know how long the public emergency will last.

We will continue to support those students with immigration and financial concerns.

I have left behind work / other personal items, can I collect them?

There is no access to UAL academic buildings at this time, in line with UK government requirements around social distancing.

When it is safe to do so, we will reopen our buildings and students will be able to collect anything left behind.

When will you reopen the university buildings?

This is out of our hands and we will be following government advice. Given the situation elsewhere in the world, we anticipate that the suspension of access will be for some weeks, even months.

What support is available for students?

This is a time of stress for everyone and will continue to be so whilst we adapt to new ways of teaching and learning next term.  The full range of student services continues to be available, including mental health support.

For more information, visit the help and support for students page.

What financial support is available to students?

We have allocated Hardship Funds specifically to support students who experience financial difficulties linked to the Coronavirus pandemic.  We have already provided financial support to a number of students on this basis.

Students experiencing financial difficulties can apply for financial support for costs linked to studying remotely.

Have you made any changes to the system for extenuating circumstances and financial support?

We have relaxed the rules on supporting documentation for Extenuating Circumstances applications, financial support and other processes, in recognition of the approaches being taken to testing during the Coronavirus crisis.

Can I access Adobe CC on a personal device?

As a result of the current disruptions due to the coronavirus outbreak, Adobe has provided temporary at-home access for impacted students, so that they can continue to work remotely. These Creative Cloud desktop app licenses are currently valid until May 31 2020. Find out more.

What plans have been made for students on a UAL Diploma in Professional Studies?

We will be relaxing the placement time requirements for your Diploma in Professional Studies in the coming days and will accept the number of weeks you have been able to complete up to the relevant government's advice to work from home. As quickly as possible we will write again with details of any changes to the Unit Descriptor and Assessment Brief.

You should now focus on completing your academic work to the best of your ability and submitting to deadline. Where you have not been able to collect primary data at your placement provider then discuss alternative strategies with your Diploma in Professional Studies tutor/ year leader or course staff who are always on hand to support you.

If your current Diploma in Professional Studies placement is short term (6 weeks or less) and not in your home country, we would advise you to cancel it now and return home. If you require guidance and assistance in making arrangements to return home please contact Mark Crawley, UAL Dean of Students (m.crawley@arts.ac.uk).

What advice is there for students on Erasmus Funded Traineeships?

As UAL advice is against travel overseas for placements, signing of agreements and payment of Erasmus grants for new placements approved after 12 March is currently suspended. If your placement had been previously agreed or you travelled to your placement host country before 12 March, please contact internationalmobility@arts.ac.uk.

Update: 24 March

If you are currently on an Erasmus-funded traineeship, please respond to the email you will receive from internationalmobility@arts.ac.uk requesting information about your current location and your working status with your placement provider. It is important that we collect this information to review the impact on UAL’s Erasmus grant.

The UK FCO has advised all UK nationals to return to the UK as soon as possible and UAL strongly advises all UK nationals currently abroad to do this. If you require support with your repatriation please contact Katie Britton International Exchange Manager k.britton@arts.ac.uk.

If you have completed your placement in line with your original grant agreement, please submit all necessary documents as normal to receive your second instalment.

What about students who are interested in completing short term placements?

All placement units have an alternative project work brief that can be completed through distance learning.

If you have secured a placement then whilst we cannot stop you taking up the opportunity, we would strongly advise that you put your health and the health of others first, stay at home and take up the alternative project option.

If you have not yet secured a placement then please now take up the safer option of the alternative project. Businesses are unlikely to offer short term placements over the coming weeks while they adjust their working practices.

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