Directorate for the Student Experience

How could SLP improve the delivery of exams?

14 January 2018

The January exam period has seen hundreds of Professional Support Services (PSS) and academic staff across Schools, Faculties and central teams working together to deliver 1,580 exams for 28,293 students at 73 venues across the University’s estate.

This collaborative effort requires the completion of hundreds of processes, through various IT systems, to deliver the key outcomes associated with the delivery of exams. Staff feedback suggests that some of these processes are time consuming, difficult to track and require repetitive manual input.

With this in mind, in 2017 colleagues with expert exams knowledge collaborated through the Student Lifecycle Project’s Design and Discovery phase. They reviewed existing exams processes and proposed new ones where needed, with the aim of improving the student and staff experience and delivering exams as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Some of the key changes proposed as part of this work include:

  • Digitising the exam paper approval process through the use of a modern, responsive staff dashboard, automating associated communications to academic and PSS staff and creating a reliable version history and audit trail for each paper;
  • Recording exam attendance and exam room incidents through a digital application rather than paper based forms, instantly attaching this information to each students record and generating automated communications to absent students to explain the impact on progression and UKVI compliance;
  • Tracking the location of exam papers digitally, in the same way logistic companies track the location of parcels, to further reduce the risk of exam papers going missing;
  • Creating the underlying IT platform to allow the University to begin to deliver exams digitally in the future without the need for significant further systems development.

The Project has now moved to the Integration phase, where proposals from each area of the lifecycle have been brought together and checked for consistencies, overlaps and potential contractions.

Senior colleagues will then review the scope of the SLP and the changes that it will deliver. This Scope Review will inform the SLP Executive Board who will meet on 5th March to approve the scope of the SLP’s Initial Release, which will be delivered in September 2019.

IT systems – including Campus Solutions 9.2 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 – will then enter development and build and the Project will start to look at ways of working. The aim of this phase is to identify which business outcomes should sit where within the University and its Schools, Faculties and central services, or a combination. It will involve significant input from PSS staff, academics and students, and further details of how to get involved will be communicated soon.

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