Compensation for University of Birmingham students over missing exam papers
Students at the University of Birmingham have been given hundreds of pounds in compensation after lecturers sent their exam papers to the wrong address.
The 14 final year history students were given £300 each and told they would get a pass mark although their exam papers were never seen again.
Invigilators sent off the papers to be marked but put the wrong address on the package.
A university spokeswoman said the students were sent an apology, paid £300 each in compensation and given letters they could show potential employers to explain why they got a “P” pass instead of a numerical mark.
All of the affected students turned down the chance to re-sit and their final degree classifications were worked out on past performance.
The spokeswoman added “considerable efforts” were taken to return the papers in what it said had been a “regrettable situation”.
She said: “In the very tight turnaround time between the scripts becoming available late afternoon and the need for the scripts to be posted out to the examiner the same day, the address of the examiner was incorrectly assigned to the package.
“After considerable efforts taken by members of history staff to retrieve the scripts failed, contact was made with each of the final year students involved and arrangements were put in place to arrive at a fair degree classification.
"The relevant exam boards at school, college and university level treated each student as an individual case, and the resulting recommendations were discussed with the external examiners and ratified at four different exam boards, to ensure that each individual was treated fairly in terms of the classification of degree awarded.
“The students affected were offered the opportunity to sit the exam again, a sincere apology, and financial compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused.
"The university has, in addition, provided explanatory letters that each student can attach to their transcript when it is sent to potential employers, which explains the presence of a ‘P’ pass rather than a specific numerical mark for that particular module.”
An investigation was launched following the summer exam and the university said changes in the procedures have since been made.
Exam scripts are no longer posted to internal markers and recorded or courier delivery is used for external examiners.
The spokeswoman added: “A full investigation took place at college and university level into this very regrettable situation and there are now tighter controls in place in the offices dealing with all student assessments.”
Prof Susan Hunston, who conducted the college investigation, said: “During exam time, when papers have to go from A to B very quickly and come back very quickly it is difficult to account for every eventuality that might come up.”
The missing scripts had been from a 20-credit module called Living and Writing in Shakespearean England.
Prof Steve Ellis, director of education for the College of Arts and Law, said: “Whenever these mishaps happen it is important that we learn from it and put the systems in place to ensure it does not happen again.”