Our Academic Registrar, Richard Stock, tells us more about all the support we can offer our students to help them to prepare and to succeed.

I hope you are settling into the new term after the Easter vacation. I know this remains a difficult time for everyone, and especially for our students. We have all had to adapt very quickly to working remotely. I know that for you this has meant new ways of learning at the same time as managing significant upheaval in your day-to-day lives. I understand how difficult this is. Our primary concern has and will always be the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. Everything we are doing is designed to enable you to continue and complete your programme of study while staying safe.

As we prepare for the start of our main summer exam period next week, I am keen to share with you information on how to access all the support we can offer to help you prepare and to succeed. In the run up to the exam period, please remember to:

In my previous updates to you, I have explained why we are continuing with the exams during the summer term. We are committed to safeguarding your success and we believe it is important that we provide you with opportunities to demonstrate your learning. Our alternative assessments have been adapted to the circumstances of the pandemic and will enable you to continue and complete your programmes of study through this uncertain time.

Our aim is to support you to undertake the assessment set out in your timetable in the same way that you would have been expected to sit the exams that were planned before the COVID-19 pandemic started. At the same time, we do recognise the difficult circumstances that you may be facing and that this means you might not be able to give of your best.

We understand that you may have caring or childcare responsibilities, other personal commitments, or may find it difficult to access IT facilities, all of which might affect your academic performance. The pandemic itself may be causing you to worry as you continue to deal with the implications of social distancing and protecting yourself and your family and friends.

Our approach to alternative assessment takes these factors into account, to ensure that you have a fair opportunity to demonstrate your learning. You will only be assessed on the content of your modules that you have been taught, and the methods of assessment have been adapted to recognise the disruption in your learning as well as the new circumstances in which you are completing them.

How we can support you
If you have any questions about your assessment or your course or modules, please contact the professional services team in your Department or School. They are there for you so please do make the most of them. They have a wealth of knowledge on all the support available in your Department or School and can help if you’re not sure how to contact somebody in the Department.

Please remember to contact your Personal Tutor if you need them. You can talk to them if you have any questions about your course or if you’re having any difficulties with your studies.

We provide a wide range of academic skills support. There are webinars and individual support sessions provided by the Skills for Success team. Events are bookable via CareerHub and more information about the support available can be found on our academic skills pages. Please book a place, or if you have a specific inquiry, please ask: we are here to help.

The Library team is also available to provide you with additional advice and help. The team are working hard every day, responding to emails and providing advice through live chats. Subject Librarians are providing one to one support via Zoom. Please remember to access our online Library resources, you can find information on these pages about how to book a session with your Subject Librarian. The Library team can live chat via the website or you can email them enquiries at libline@essex.ac.uk.

Whatever your circumstances, you will not be disadvantaged
We have taken a number of actions to support you to succeed so that you can progress to the next stage of your studies or graduate this summer. I want to stress that, whatever your circumstances, you will not be disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I wrote to you on 16 April to set out the main elements of our ‘No Detriment’ approach. We have responded to the exceptional circumstances we are all facing together, while recognising your needs as individual students and the different requirements of your modules and courses. The full details of our no detriment approach are available on our website, which will continue to be updated. Our approach will be applied for all taught students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, and all assessment you have or will undertake in this academic year, including coursework and dissertations, as well as the alternative assessment.

We have streamlined the extenuating circumstances and exam absence notification processes to ensure that we capture and support all students who have experienced difficulties in successfully completing assessments. More information and guidance is now available online so please do take time to read it.

If you can’t take your alternative assessment right now, for whatever reason, we will offer you another opportunity with no penalty. All decisions by the Board of Examiners will take into account the impact of the pandemic and you will not be disadvantaged by the difficulties created by COVID-19.

Student Support Services
Your academic success matters to us as does your wider experience and wellbeing as a member of the Essex community, whichever campus you are on and wherever you are studying now.

Our Student Services Hubs for Colchester, Southend and Loughton are operating phone, email and live chat facilities and can provide information on our range of mental health and emotional support services.

We are offering online activities to help our community to continue to come together, even if we can’t meet in person. We know some of you are facing financial hardship. We have adapted our student hardship fund, opening it up to all students experiencing hardship and making it as easy and straightforward as possible to apply for support. We are working hard to increase the total amount of funding available through this route.

The Students’ Union Advice service is available and operating remotely. They are able to book Zoom or telephone appointments and can be contacted using the following details:

Or via telephone between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday:

  • 07395 955656
  • 07511 303169

For specific queries relating to COVID-19, please email our dedicated team at covid19@essex.ac.uk. Our COVID-19 webpages continue to provide a wealth of information on support available.

I understand that this continues to be a tough time for you and I want you to remember that we are always here to help. Please keep an eye on your Essex email but also Facebook, Twitter, Moodle and MyEssex for updates and support. I wish you all the best as you prepare for the summer assessment period and remainder of this academic year. Stay safe and keep in touch. We are here to support you in any way we can.