The ANU’s COVID-19 flexible grading system, in which students could opt-in to change grades to ‘Course Requirements Satisfied’ (CRS) or ‘Course Requirements Not Satisfied’ (CRN), that applied to 2020 will not be extended into 2021. In response, the University’s International Students Department (ISD) is lobbying for the ANU to revert to its flexible grading policies, but is encountering opposition.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, the ANU acknowledged the “extraordinary disruption” the pandemic and University’s subsequent actions had to students’ studies and their learning. In response to COVID-19’s unprecedented disturbance to normal academic operations, the ANU adopted flexible assessment policies, to provide students with breathing room amid the pandemic’s disruption, which required a departure from its existing grading policies.

According to an ANU spokesperson, the University received special dispensation by the relevant regulatory body to use the CRS and CRN grading options for 2020, but has not received similar special dispensation to use these grading options in 2021.

While face-to-face learning remains restricted, students are again seeking CRS and CRN options for 2021. According to the International Students Department (ISD), it is “very disappointed” at the ANU’s decision to discontinue CRS and CRN grading options, because it is “unarguable that COVID-19 continues to disrupt education”, and that “everything is far from normal”.

In response to the University’s decision, the ISD launched a CRS and CRN Feedback Survey, in which 94 percent of respondents want CRS and CRN options extended, with 41 percent stating that the flexible grading options assuaged circumstances around their disability, physical health, and mental health. The ISD launched its ‘#bringbackcrs’ Campaign and its Change.org petition, which has garnered over 1,000 signatures.

ISD has requested the ANU consider the potential consequences of discontinuing the CRS and CRN grading policy, and that the University “carefully rethink” its decision.

At this stage, the ISD’s proposal to return to the CRS and CRN grading policy has been handed to the ANU, and will be discussed in future meetings between ISD and the University. Further updates are expected once such meetings take place.

When approached by Woroni regarding the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ learning, an ANU spokesperson responded that “All students have the opportunity to ask for special consideration”, and that studying remotely, overseas because of border closures is a “legitimate reason to be asking for adjustments such as extended deadlines” for assessments.

The ANU states studying remotely is an appropriate, genuine reason to pursue ‘special consideration’ or assessment extensions, however outcomes of these applications are at the discretion of course convenors. According to the ANU, an application “does not automatically mean that any chances will be made” to assessment outcomes.

Woroni has reached out to TEQSA for comment.