As a result of DUSA exhausting its lobbying within Deakin, we are now submitting the below complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman about the treatment of results and the impact on students’ WAMs. We are acting on behalf of students so we need your help.
This is a call out to all of you, read the complaint and sign up to be part of it. We will be providing anonymous case studies to support the complaint. To be part of the complaint you must complete the form with your details, your information will be confidential and only used for this purpose.
Deakin University has not provided students with options to their result outcomes for the Trimester 1 period, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The University has also made significant changes to the result process after the Census Date of the 14th of April. As there will be very little on–campus activity in Trimester 2, we are concerned about the existing treatment of results and the impact on the Weighted Average Marks (WAM) for students.
A large number of students were disadvantaged due to the change in study mode from an on–campus to online format. Many students do not have the basic requirements to engage in online study. These requirements include computers, access to an appropriate study space, access to reliable internet connection, and instead previously relied on using resources at the University. Many students also struggled with mental health issues due to being socially isolated and financially disadvantaged by the loss of employment and income or access to money from their home countries; International Students are not entitled to federal government support.
On the 24th of April, Deakin University announced a change to the grading schema in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The new schema excluded the numerical mark and replaced it with a new range of letter grade bands, meaning that students WAM would not change from the commencement of the Trimester. This created significant difficulty for students who were in their final year and competing against students from other Universities for postgraduate course placements. Essentially, students who were progressing well wanted their marks to be included in their WAM.
Due to backlash on the 8th of May, the University reversed their decision and changed the grading schema to include all marks over 50% in the WAM. Marks below 50% would not be included in the WAM, but the fail grade would be included on the academic transcript.
The second announcement disadvantaged a large number of students who are struggling to deal with the difficulties of the COVID-19 crisis and some, after the first announcement, relaxed their study schedule to deal with changes to their financial security, mental health, living and studying arrangements. There has been a continuous backlash from another cohort of students resulting in the University receiving over 120 complaints from students about the second schema.
DUSA has been advocating to all levels of the University since the commencement of the trimester for an opt in / opt out process; from the Deputy Vice Chancellor Education, Dean of Students and ultimately the Vice Chancellor. The University has been indecisive and as a solution offered that students could withdraw up until the 1st of June. This disadvantages students even further if they have been submitting assignments under duress to have to withdraw to protect their WAM scores; therefore, wasting time and prolonging their studies.
Clearly, there is no one solution that will not disadvantage large groups of students. It is our opinion that after results are released students should have the capacity to decide whether to have their results included in their WAM or not. The other option is that if a score improves the WAM then it should be included, if it doesn’t then exclude it.