November 2, 2020

Academic Update: Semester 2 Ungraded Passes

Brehany Shanahan

This afternoon, the Guild President and Education Council President met with the Chair of Academic Board to discuss the re-introduction of Ungraded Pass arrangements for this semester.

This meeting came after discussions with various members of the University education executive over several months to come to a compromise about what could work moving forward. 

We recognise that many students are still experiencing significant disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the experience of online learning. A petition created by students has attracted over 2000 signatures. Many of those who have signed the petition have expressed concern about the quality of their online learning, differing access to appropriate technology, the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing, and the difficulties students have faced in their personal lives, such as losing their casual jobs. We must also acknowledge the plight of international students still stuck abroad, in countries where the COVID-19 continues to have significant impact on day-to-day life.

Across this semester, the Guild has put forward a number of considerations, including the full re-introduction of the Ungraded Pass system, or the inclusion of the Ungraded Pass option as part of the special consideration process for students who can prove they are still being substantially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, the University is not willing to support the reintroduction of the Ungraded Pass. We have outlined their reasoning below:

  • First semester marks at UWA and across most Australian universities were on par with previous years or slightly higher, regardless of whether students took the UP option. These outcomes indicate there is no systemic basis to extend the Ungraded Pass policy to second semester.
  • There is inequity in having the option to apply for an Ungraded Pass. A student aiming for a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of 75% could apply for an Ungraded Pass in any unit where they had a mark below 75%. This would push their WAM up to the disadvantage of students in those cohorts in other years where the option is not available. The first semester policy on UP was adopted in advance of knowing how grades would be affected by the extraordinary measures adopted.
  • UWA is aware that other universities have adopted different policies. Each university takes an approach that they think is best for their students. A policy appropriate and fit for one institution may not be appropriate for another.
  • In saying that, the University recognises that not all students may have experienced slightly higher or on-par marks in first semester. They therefore encourage students to apply for special consideration based on their specific circumstances.

Please note, the above comments do not reflect the views of the Guild. This is simply background information we feel it is important for students to be exposed to in order to understand the university’s reasoning.

While we have been unsuccessful in implementing the Ungraded Pass this semester, the Guild will continue to advocate for measures to ensure no student is left behind. We are investigating other options to ease the burden this semester. If you have any suggestions, we encourage you to get in touch with your Guild President, Bre Shanahan, at [email protected]. It is with your feedback that we are able to fully represent you!

If you are experiencing hardship this semester, you are still able to access certain academic concessions through the special consideration process. If you need help accessing this, you can get in touch with our Student Assist team at [email protected].