LSSJ Industrial Action, Reserve Powers and Extensions – Important Update

Please note that what follows is a copy of the email sent to all LSSJ UG Students on 29th March 2022 (a follow up will be sent for PG)


We appreciate big emails aren’t always easy to digest, so this email starts with a brief summary, or TLDR (too long; didn’t read)


Brief Summary (or TLDR)


  • There are no issues or concerns with the validity, value or the professional accreditation of your programmes.
  • Exam Boards will take place as usual, with External Examiners in attendance.
  • Final module marks and overall degree classifications will proceed with the same rigour as in previous years.
  • The pass mark remains 40%.
  • LSSJ is not offering a blanket extension as this is in effect a shifting of deadlines. Instead we will continue to offer extensions via KentVision in the usual way


Big Email


We hope you are all doing well.


We are aware of some of the rumours and information circulating on WhatsApp groups, social media and elsewhere concerning the action that the University has planned to process marks and degree awards in the face of the UCU marking boycott.


We are therefore writing to you clarify the position for LSSJ and allay fears that many students quite reasonably have.


Firstly, as you are probably aware, the University and the UCU have had very productive discussions in the last few days about the marking boycott and redundancies.  The University has made an offer to the Union which the Kent UCU is considering over the next few days. We will update you as soon as we have further news on this.


Despite this positive news, industrial action at a national level continues this week in the form of a 5-day strike, and with further action possible regardless of the outcome of Kent UCU’s considerations, it is important to address some of the questions that have arisen.



The Reserve Powers discussed in Senate


There are no issues or concerns with the validity, value or the professional accreditation of your programmes. The special provisions that were discussed at the recent University Senate meeting cover as broad a spectrum of potential disruption as possible, to ensure no student be disadvantaged due to no fault of their own, whilst maintaining the processes that ensure our rigorous academic standards. These powers will only be used if they are absolutely required.


These same provisions have been in place in previous years where there has been similar disruption, with no impact on degree outcomes. These provisions are based on types of mitigation that are available already for individual students. Our existing processes for Exam Boards, and our engagement with the professional bodies, will safeguard your degree award and the professional status of your degrees as has been the case in previous periods of industrial action or other disruption.


To address some of the rumours that are circulating:


  • Exam Boards will take place as scheduled and will ensure that standards are met and degree classes awarded strictly in line with our normal practices.
  • External Examiners are in place and are expected to contribute to exam boards as normal. The reserve powers exist in the background for the unlikely event that an exam board does not have an external examiner present in which case an external from outside the division can be brought in to participate in the exam board.
  • Final module marks, the award of credit and assessment of module passes will also proceed with the same rigour as in previous years, ensuring that awards meet all of the requirements for your degree and any professional accreditation bodies for your school/degree programme.
  • The pass mark has not been moved from 40% to 30%. The exam boards have always been able to compensate marks between 30-39%.
  • Graduation ceremonies will take place as scheduled.


We are also aware that many of you have concerns that delayed feedback will impact on your ability to produce subsequent pieces of work. Where this is the case, we would encourage you to contact your seminar leader, module convenor and/or Academic Adviser for guidance.


Blanket Extensions in LSSJ Schools


LSSJ (SSPSSR, Journalism and KLS) has decided not to apply a blanket extension for all student deadlines to mitigate the impact of the UCU action.  We are aware that some other Divisions have done so. This is not being done to penalise students or because we are unsympathetic, but rather from our experience in previous years and as an effort to ensure individual student needs are met in an individual and appropriate way.


We have taken the decision, in close consultation with LSSJ Student Support, that our existing deadline schedule should be maintained in order to help students best organise their work through our schools’ staggered deadlines. Blanket extensions tend to just push everyone’s sense of the deadline back by a week. This impacts on revision time for exams (even if the module in question does not have an exam, pushing the deadline back in that module impacts on other revision and assessments) and can actually make revising and writing assessments more challenging, particularly for students who are struggling.


You are still able to apply for extenuating circumstances through Kent Vision if you need to. The LSSJ Student Support Team will take an overview of your particular circumstances and help put in an appropriate structure for you and take account of your particular position and what would be best for you.  We all remain extremely sympathetic to the difficulties students are facing and want to make sure that the best help is being put in place for you. Blanket extensions just push everything back closer to your exams and can make things very much more challenging.


With all best wishes


Lisa and Eddy

Divisional Directors of Education, LSSJ