Assessment, dropping courses and fee rebates in the second semester

07 August 2020 | DVC A/Prof Lis Lange

Dear students

I hope you and your families are well. We have successfully completed the first semester in remote learning mode. I realise that this has been a huge effort for all concerned, but most of you have succeeded despite the odds stacked against you. So, well done to you and your lecturers.

Now that we are one week into the second semester, I am writing to talk to you about:

  • the approach to marks and assessment during the second semester
  • dropping second semester courses and fee rebates.

The approach to marks and assessment during the second semester

On 3 August the Executive Committee of Senate approved that the extension of remote teaching to the fourth term requires the modality of assessment to be consistent with our approach in the first semester.

All the data at our disposal – from the results of the first semester to the Student Access Survey – supports the continuation of the pass/fail approach for all first semester half (F) courses. Given the extension of remote teaching to the end of the academic year, the following has been decided regarding pass/fail final results in second semester half (S), full year half (H) and full year (W) courses in the second semester for 2020:

  1. Pass/fail results do not apply to exit-level S, H and W courses. These courses will be graded as usual.
  2. For all courses, your continual assessment tasks are graded – so you will get feedback as before and we can see how well you are doing.
  3. The final grade posted on the system at the end of the course is a pass or fail, even though there is an underlying numeric grade (this is akin to what happens with a passed supplementary exam, where only a pass and not the actual grade is entered). The underlying numeric grade can be used in the department for deciding who gets offered a supplementary exam. (The underlying grades will be shared with you on Vula once your work is marked.) Your grades will be captured in the mid-term result field and used for internal purposes. It will not be displayed on your transcripts.
  4. The grade point average (GPA) calculation is amended (on the system) to substitute the course results of the 2020 S, H and W courses with a pass/fail result. All second semester pass/fail results will be ignored by the GPA calculation. Other calculations run as usual, including a distinction in the major or stream/specialisation, a distinction in the degree, and the cumulative GPA. These results will appear on your transcripts and will enable you to compete for jobs, funding or places at other higher education institutions. (The degree GPA needed to be eligible for National Research Foundation funding will still be on your transcripts.)
  5. The transcript note that only a pass/fail result was given (no grades) as a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown will be held in perpetuity for all students who completed a 2020 S, H or W course. This note will remain on your transcripts in perpetuity so that it is part of the record alongside your results.

As in the first semester, it is understood that the structure of the different LLB programmes in the Faculty of Law makes the application of this approach very difficult. It has therefore been agreed that the Faculty of Law will be exempted from this decision. Service courses offered to other faculties which have endorsed the pass/fail principle will have to fall in line with this principle.

Dropping second semester courses and fee rebates

As you remember, during the first semester we moved the deadline for dropping courses, with 100% fee rebate, to allow you, with the benefit of academic advice, to reduce your course load where you felt that you could not cope under remote teaching. With the second semester already having started in remote learning mode, the deadline for dropping courses, with the associated full fee rebate, has moved from 7 August 2020 to 16 August 2020.

Curriculum advisors have been alerted by their respective faculties that those of you who elect to manage your curriculum load by dropping second semester courses for which you are registered have until 16 August 2020 to do so. The 100% fee rebate will apply in such cases.

Please complete this form to drop a course.

I wish you well in your studies this term.

Warm regards

Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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