5. Information for and Communications with Candidates

5.1. Policy requirements

Supervisory bodies should ensure that all students receive appropriate guidance on the seriousness with which the University views all forms of plagiarism, and on means to avoid it (Annex G: The role of faculties and departments in preventing and dealing with plagiarism provides further guidance).

All students should be reminded that it is their own personal responsibility to ensure that all course work is submitted in the required format (including numbers of copies), by the right day and time, and at the right place (Proctors’ Administrative Regulations for Candidates in Examinations (Proctors’ Regulations 1 of 2005), cl.3, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/253-114.shtml).

Supervisory bodies should ensure that full and appropriate information is made available in good time for all students and academic staff involved in the assessment process and should follow the requirements set out in Annex I: Consistency in examination conventions. Education Committee is particularly concerned to avoid late or incomplete information being circulated to candidates by chairs of examiners. Boards are asked to ensure that any circulars to candidates concerning the fine detail of arrangements should be clear, accurate and timely. Should there be any discrepancy between the Examination Regulations and any other published course material, the Examination Regulations take precedence.

The attention of students should be drawn to the role of the Proctors in ensuring the proper conduct of examinations and in investigating complaints in relation to the assessment of student work. The University places a high priority on the fair and consistent operation of assessment procedures, especially in relation to measures to prevent fraudulent activities; to the detection of any forms of academic misconduct relating to assessment such as plagiarism, collusion, cheating, impersonation and the use of inadmissible material; and to the imposition of appropriate penalties for the late or non-submission of material for assessment. All these matters should be referred to the Proctors (although see also 7.3 below).

Decisions of boards of examiners should be published as speedily as possible, consistent with appropriate rigour in assessment and decision-making and accurate and systematic recording.

5.2. Communications with candidates

Candidates should be sent individual copies of any communications from the chair directed to all candidates (see 4.1 above). While it is good practice to publish such information on the web, this is not a sufficient mode of communication in itself. Such circulars should include or link to examination conventions and the dates reserved for viva voce examinations (as appropriate). Chairs will usually find that there is a standard set of instructions to candidates in their examination, but on occasion a circular may be needed to emphasise additional information, for example, changes to the syllabus or rubric.

Judicial review of examination complaints has concluded that all communications from examiners to candidates may be regarded by a court as providing information on which candidates are entitled to rely. Any discrepancy between the chair’s communication and the process actually followed can lead to a complaint. The wording of any circular should therefore be composed with great care. However, there should be no direct communication between those setting examinations and individual candidates.

1. The circular should advise candidates that there will always be an examiner present during the first half-hour of a written examination, to whom questions about the paper can be addressed. It is better to have questions at this stage than complaints after the examination, and it helps to ensure a fair examination if candidates know and can act on this principle. Candidates’ attention may be drawn to the use of script booklets for rough working and the restrictions on which items they may bring with them into the examination room (see 10.9 below for details).

2. If the examination includes provision for the submission of work other than written papers, detailed instructions as to how and where the work is to be submitted should be given to candidates in good time (see section 9 below). It is essential that any submission dates given in communications to candidates or course handbooks be in agreement with those in the Examination Regulations. The examiners should remind candidates that work presented late will not be taken into account unless the Proctors give permission, that a late-presentation fee may be imposed, and that the examiners may be authorised to impose an academic penalty. A scale of penalties should be included in the examination conventions. Failure to submit work without good cause can lead to failure of the entire examination. Chairs are asked strongly to encourage candidates to submit their work themselves, as friends or other agencies (e.g. printing services) often prove unreliable.

3. Chairs may refer candidates to the examinations material in the Student Handbook (previously the Proctors’ and Assessor’s Memorandum), and on the Oxford Students Website (http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/exams) including the material on plagiarism (www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism), and to the provisions regarding the use of calculators and computers in examinations in the Examination Regulations, Part 10, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p10dopatuow-p-ccaominexam.

4. Chairs should remind candidates of the requirement to take University Cards to the examination as a means of identification. Persistent failure to produce a University Card will result in the candidate being summoned to the Proctors’ Office to check that impersonation has not taken place.

Chairs conducting resits or other examinations in the Long Vacation are reminded of the importance of similarly communicating necessary information to candidates and subject-tutors. Chairs will not have vacation addresses for candidates and may ask colleges to forward communications.

Chairs and examiners are reminded that gifts from candidates must not be received or accepted.