President’s News 26 August 2021

WAMnesty is back for Semester 2, 2021

The President of the Academic Board has resolved that results from Semester 2 2021 will not be included in students’ WAM Calculation if they are below their current WAM benchmark. It is the exact same settings that were in place last year, on the back of UMSU’s initial WAMnesty campaign.

We know that this will be a massive relief to many students who have been facing unprecedented challenges for such a sustained period of time.

See the video announcement from UMSU President, Jack Buksh.

 

 

You can read more about the resolution itself HERE.

WAM FAQ 

We know this might be a bit confusing – we’ll try to make it clearer 🙂 First and foremost the changes are a form of Academic Amnesty — a safety net — that is to protect a student from a poor WAM impact this semester in recognition of disruptions. It’s not designed to help students get the best WAM they can by picking the subjects to be included. As the WAM is a calculated average, being able to pick the subjects would have a major skewing impact which could  create an advantage over students who don’t get to choose, which would be unfair. If you are struggling as a result of the COVID changes in one class, more than another, due to the quality of teaching being provided let us know and we can put you in touch with UMSU Advocacy to assist and explain your options 🙂

 

You can read the full update here: https://students.unimelb.edu.au/your-course/manage-your-course/exams-assessments-and-results/results-and-academic-statements/wam

 

Can we choose to include COVID-19 grades in our WAM? 

Yes – at the end of your course you can choose to include all your COVID-19 grades. By waiting until the end of your course, you will be able to calculate whether including the COVID-19 grades will increase your WAM.

The option to include COVID-19 grades is all or nothing. You can’t pick which ones you wish to include, and those you want excluded. This is because the WAM is an average, so cherry picking subjects by the best mark would potentially massively skew results and provide unfair advantages over those who cannot do that.

The other thing to be aware of is that some course entry requirements may stipulate specific conditions about the inclusion or exclusion of COVID-19 grades in 2020 or second half-year 2021 in determining the WAM to be used for admission. Please continue to check course entry requirements in the Handbook for specific course entry requirements.

 

How does WAM work for first year students in 2021?

If this is your first semester (second semester 2021), your grades will automatically be excluded from your WAM calculation. This is the case for any student who had not completed at least 50 points of study prior to the period the WAM adjustments apply to as there is no previous WAM benchmark to reference. So if you started last year in either semester then you will have had all grades excluded until Summer and Semester 1 2021.  

 

Is this for graduate course work too? 

If your course is no more than 50 credit points in total (as it is for graduate certificate courses) then the revised WAM calculation will not apply to you. The rationale for this is that the WAM adjustment is meant to protect existing WAM scores based on at least 50 credit points of completed study.  A 50 point course  starts and finishes before a student can complete 50 points, there is no previous WAM to protect or the ability to benchmark a WAM in future. Instead, if you are studying a graduate certificate, and if you believe that you have personal circumstances which may affect your performance, it might be worth applying for Special Consideration with SEDS (https://students.unimelb.edu.au/student-support/student-equity-and-disability-support). 

If you have already completed 50 credit points in your degree, the WAM amnesty will apply to this subject in the second half year 2021. This means that although the marks for this subject will be recorded on your statement of results, the subject will appear with a new code that makes it clear it is excluded from the WAM calculation because of COVID-19. At the end of your degree, you can request all of these subjects (with the COVID-19 code) to be included in your final WAM calculation. But, this will remain your choice, the default is that they will be excluded. See other questions on opting to include COVID-19 grades at the end of the course.

 

Is it for semester 1 and 2 of 2021?   

No, at this point the WAM adjustment only applies for the second half year 2021 (Winter and semester 2).

 

Can I choose to include my 2020 WAM even though I chose to waive it originally?

There is no opportunity to make a choice about the WAM adjustment until you have completed your course. That is, at the end of your course you can choose to include all your COVID-19 grades. Bywaiting until the end of your course, you will be able to calculate whether including the COVID-19 grades will increase your WAM.

The option to include COVID-19 grades is all or nothing. You can’t pick which ones you wish to include, and those you want excluded. This is because the WAM is an average, so cherry picking subjects by the best mark would potentially massively skew results and provide unfair advantages over those who cannot do that.

The other thing to be aware of is that some course entry requirements may stipulate specific conditions about the inclusion or exclusion of COVID-19 grades in 2020 or second half-year 2021 in determining the WAM to be used for admission. Please continue to check course entry requirements in the Handbook for specific course entry requirements.

 

Is this for all course work subjects across the entire University?

The 2020 WAM adjustments apply to the entire year, including Summer and Winter subjects. For 2021, the WAM amnesty is applicable for Winter semester and second semester only.

 

If I opt-in to not including this semesters marks in my WAM will it mean last year’s result would be included too? 

There is no opportunity to make a choice about the WAM adjustment until you have completed your course. That is, at the end of your course you can choose to include all your COVID-19 grades. Bywaiting until the end of your course, you will be able to calculate whether including the COVID-19 grades will increase your WAM.

The option to include COVID-19 grades is all or nothing. You can’t pick which ones you wish to include, and those you want excluded. This is because the WAM is an average, so cherry picking subjects by the best mark would potentially massively skew results and provide unfair advantages over those who cannot do that. 

The other thing to be aware of is that some course entry requirements may stipulate specific conditions about the inclusion or exclusion of COVID-19 grades in 2020 or second half-year 2021 in determining the WAM to be used for admission. Please continue to check course entry requirements in the Handbook for specific course entry requirements.

 

Why does the WAMnesty only apply for the second half year in 2021???

Good question – the President, UMSU has written to the President of the Academic Board asking this very thing.

UMSU has been lobbying the university all year for some acknowledgment that the pandemic continues to affect students in the same way it did throughout 2020.

The President of the Academic Board expressly ruled out a WAM adjustment in the first half of the year, despite UMSU presenting a petition signed by over 20 000 people. The reason the University is giving for its decision is as follows:

In 2020, the impacts of the pandemic were sudden and disruptive, with a rapid and unprecedented transition to online teaching and learning for all students, and as such the University of Melbourne introduced a temporary adjustment to the WAM policy.

In first half-year 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemic continued, we did not experience the same level of disruption to teaching and learning activities due to COVID-19 restrictions. The University worked hard to inform students of subject delivery modes and normal WAM arrangements well before the start of semester, giving students increased certainty when planning their studies. 

In second half-year 2021, we once again experienced unanticipated and sudden disruptions in the days before Semester 2 started and this extending throughout semester which impacted teaching and learning activities, meaning the conditions from 2020 are once again applicable in second half-year 2021.

So basically the University is saying that everyone had adjusted to online teaching and learning by the beginning of his year, then we all thought we  might get back to campus in semester 2 and WAM!! (excuse the pun) we’re back in endless rolling lockdowns again – causing a sudden scramble to reorganise teaching and learning activities. 

UMSU remains unconvinced, especially as so many students have also been stuck offshore all year and their circumstances have not been acknowledged in any way. It seems disingenuous. However, that’s all we can tell you for now.

UMSU will continue to put pressure on the University to extend the WAMnesty back to the beginning of the year.

 

As always, if you need support — don’t hesitate to reach out to UMSU. Our COVID Support Resources are HERE, and you can always contact UMSU Advocacy HERE.