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Concern over late assignments


Statistics obtained by Exeposé have revealed that nearly 30 per cent of Business School assignments submitted over the last year are handed in  by staff later than the three week turnaround that the University has committed to.

Image credit: University of Exeter
Image credit: University of Exeter

Of 3,086 assignments submitted within the college, 29 per cent were returned late. This included 41 per cent of Economics submissions, out of 908 assignments, and 39 per cent of 1,017 Organisation Studies papers. 20 per cent of Management assignments were also returned late.

The statistics do suggest that the 29 per cent figure does drop to 16 per cent when exams are excluded, although, since many Business School modules are assessed using examinations, it is unclear how much this affects the figures.

Tom Carter, a third year Economics student, told Exeposé that he had not even been aware that work was meant to be returned within three weeks, but that with this knowledge, he could confirm that some assignments had been returned “very late”.

He added: “Some modules are just massive and I don’t really mind too much if their results are late back. I’d rather have a lecturer mark them properly rather than rush them. Bigger modules also mean more choice as modules do not fill up as quickly”. He also said that he believed the problem would be alleviated if the number of Economics undergraduates was reduced.

Amit Joshi, another final year student, told Exeposé that in a recent module, he was told by an academic that his paper should have received more marks, but since it was “marked […] too quickly and rushed”, it did not. The academic allegedly added that he “doesn’t want to get into trouble by changing too many people’s marks”, according to Mr. Joshi.

12 per cent of papers marked by the College of Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences were also returned late, although these figures do exclude Physics, for which data was unavailable. 16 per cent of the 340 Maths and Computer Sciences assignments were returned after more than three weeks, with similar treatment afforded to 11 per cent of Engineering submissions.

The next worst offender was Social Sciences and International Studies, which saw 6 per cent of papers returned late. Within this, 12 per cent of assignments from the Graduate School of Education were returned late, as well as 8 per cent of Politics assignments on Streatham campus. Ten per cent of Politics assignments on Penryn were also returned late.

Five per cent of submissions from the College of Humanities were returned outside the three week turnaround, including seven per cent of both English and History assignments, as well as eight per cent of Classics.

Elsewhere, seven per cent of Sport and Health Sciences submissions were not returned on time, as well as five per cent of Modern Foreign Languages courses.

Alex Louch, VP Academic Affairs, said: “The prompt return and quality feedback remains a key priority for the Students’ Guild, following the implementation of the three week turnaround policy three years ago that was a result of our first Vision for the Future of Education. I am working with the University to ensure that staff have the facility to give the best quality feedback within three weeks, and to see that the number of exceptions to this rule are reduced.”

A University spokesperson said: “With the exception of the Business School, almost 90 per cent of assignments are returned to students within the three week deadline. This is why the percentage of Exeter students agreeing with the NSS question ‘Feedback on my work has been prompt’ has risen from 63 per cent in 2006 to 72 per cent in 2013.

“Within the Business School, the average turnaround time for non-exam assessments is 12.7 days, well inside the three week timescale. In addition, much of the ‘late’ feedback is only one or two days overdue.

“However, we take the concerns highlighted very seriously and we will work even harder to make improvements”.

Owen Keating, News Editor

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