The University must retain course work and examination scripts for a specified period in order to meet academic, statutory and regulatory requirements. However, after this period, assessed coursework and examination scripts should be securely destroyed to avoid the build-up of documentation for reasons of health and safety, data protection and business efficiency.
Student work should be retained by Colleges/Schools in accordance with the following requirements:To Provide Evidence in Case of an Appeal or Suspected Case of Academic Misconduct
All assessed material of students (i.e. examination scripts, assessed essays, posters, videotapes, dissertations etc.) which contributes to a final award must be retained for one year after the student has graduated or ceases to be an enrolled student of the University. (While the advice from the JISC is that examinations scripts be retained for 3 years, it is not felt to be practical for issues of storage capacity, plus it is felt by the University that the time limit within the University’s procedures for appeals means that the Limitation Act would not apply (this states a 6 year time limit).This is a minimum period of retention and Colleges/Schools are free to keep assessed material for longer if they so wish (subject to guidelines in the section “Retention of work for longer periods of time”).
Assessed work can be stored in hard copy or electronically (whether submitted electronically or in hard copy) but where a hard-copy piece of assessment is scanned, there should be a statement to the effect that it is a true copy which should be signed, dated and the title of the person signing the authorisation.
Where assessed work is submitted electronically via the Blackboard learning environment, it shall also be retained for one year following student graduation/cessation of enrolled student status.
Where the assessed work is not in the form of a manuscript and storage presents significant practical difficulties, for example models or large portfolios, Colleges/Schools are not required to retain the work. However, particular care should be taken to document the outcomes of the assessment and this documentation should be retained and managed in accordance with the principles contained in these guidelines relating to the assessed work itself. Work should be returned to the student rather than destroyed and students should be clearly instructed to retain the work themselves until the degree outcome has been determined.
Assessed material which does not contribute to the final award but is a required part of completion towards the award, e.g. at FHEQ level 3 or FHEQ 4 for Bachelor or advanced initial degrees must be retained for one year following date of submission to accommodate any requests for the checking of the accuracy of marks, appeals and/or complaints.
(With regard to the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, the University also recognises the volume of material involved and has agreed that retention of assessed materials at FHEQ levels 3 and 4 is not necessary in every case, in particular where this does not explicitly form part of a validated certificate or degree programme.)
Minor pieces of assessment such as routine laboratory reports and ‘weekly exercises’ such as problem classes or language exercises need not be retained.
Any mark proformas or feedback sheets used should be retained for the same period as the work to which they refer.
It would be good practice to retain a sample of anonymised assessed work each year to provide evidence of the maintenance of standards, evidence of moderation practices, for example and as source material for staff training purposes. Question papers and mark sheets should be retained with the work, as should mark proformas and feedback sheets, if used.
In the case of taught postgraduate dissertations, these must be retained for two years following the student’s graduation.
Retention of Work for Longer Periods of Time
- Retaining project work which includes original data and/or analysis;
- Retaining work for longitudinal surveys of trends in student achievement;
- Retaining work to show future students as examples – e.g. of the presentation of a dissertation.
It is recommended that such work be anonymised, wherever possible, unless written consent of the student concerned has been obtained.
Retention of Work in Online Plagiarism Detection Systems
Any student work may be uploaded to an online plagiarism detection system, at the discretion of individual Colleges/Schools. Students are advised of this on their enrolment form. To support the aim of detecting and discouraging plagiarism, work uploaded in this way shall remain in the plagiarism detection system indefinitely.
Turnitin: How Long will the Service Keep my Work?
The service will seek to retain content submitted to it and associated data until the termination of this service or its successor, thus helping to accumulate as large a corpus of knowledge as possible against which to compare submitted content.
Retention of Supervisory Records on Student Progress
All reports on student progress with respect to dissertations or theses (i.e. notes held by supervisors and formal reports submitted to College/School and University committees for all years of study) must be retained by the College/School for a period of one year following graduation.
Retention of Examination Board Decisions
The University retains Progression and Awards Board minutes and associated paperwork, including Report and Results forms for research students for a maximum of 15 years. Student marks and progression decisions are held centrally on electronic systems which are also retained indefinitely.
Storage and Subsequent Disposal of Retained Work
All assessed work which is retained should be kept in a secure location and organised to enable effective management. At the end of the retention period, all retained work should be disposed of as confidential waste unless the College/School wishes to provide students with a reasonably brief window of opportunity to collect it.
Information for Students
The College/School approach to the retention of student work should be made available to students via the Student Handbook or website. The policy and procedures for the retention and disposal of assessment material may form part of a wider Document Retention Schedule, which is prepared in accordance with the University’s Records Management policy.
Colleges/Schools should nominate a member of staff to assume overall responsibility for the systematic operation of these procedures and to ensure that all staff and students are aware of them.