Sussex University: Progress reports were 'inadequate'

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AT SUSSEX University, students told the auditors that 'formal assessment of undergraduates and taught postgraduates was infrequent, and that this was a source of concern'.

Students who had been abroad for a year, say on language placements, said they did not know the results of their second year work until the end of the fourth year.

Many students following arts courses and social studies said that 'informal feedback from course and personal tutors was inadequate compensation for ignorance of actual achievements'. Science students, however, were regularly told about their progress.

Across the university, students complained about 'the not-infrequent disparity' between what personal tutors told them about their progress and their subsequent degree classification.

The university told the auditors that a new assessment and feedback procedure had now been begun, which gave students immediate information about how they were doing.

The auditors said there was a need for teachers to be trained in new methods to be able to cope with larger class sizes, yet some probationary teachers were not aware that the university had organised training events targeted specially at them.

Sussex said assessment needs had been ironed out. Each student would know by the end of each year how they were progressing. He said there was always a risk of a gap between the advice given by a personal tutor and a subsequent degree classification.