Student and Registry Services


In-depth engagement by UCL staff produces refreshed Exam Boards process

4 March 2019

New reports will be available for 2019 Exam Boards as Academic Model Project begins to pay off

A new process for Exam Boards will ensure consistent practice across UCL as well as offering significant efficiencies, freeing up staff to focus on teaching and supporting students.

The changes are the result of sustained collaboration between Academic Services and departments to fix Portico (the Academic Model Project) as well as the recent review of Academic Regulations. Most recently, 230 staff took part in a series of in-depth workshops, run by Academic Services colleagues, resulting in a better understanding of the requirements of Exam Board members as well as designs for a new suite of reports for use by all Exam Boards.

Exam Boards are run by departments for every taught programme. The Boards are a critical stage in the assessment cycle, receiving and confirming marks, progression and awards, considering borderline cases and awarding prizes.  Each Exam Board is attended by at least one External Examiner and a Faculty Representative to ensure academic standards are maintained and UCL’s regulations are appropriately applied.

Exam Board reports have to be prepared to a very tight schedule. Until now, shortcomings in our systems and processes have meant that multiple formats are produced through onerous ‘work-arounds’ in a highly pressurised timeframe. That’s all changing. While marks still need to be entered or uploaded into the system, Portico will now automate the application of regulations, such as automatic capping and use of the highest marks after re-assessment, ensuring the correct outcome while reducing the workload on staff. Staff will also be provided with reports to enable more strategic management of records via the early flagging of anomalies, such as missing credits or outstanding marks.

Intensive testing of the new reports and processes is currently being undertaken by secondees from departments and faculties. If you would like to volunteer to participate in further testing over the next few months, please contact the Academic Model Project to register your interest.

The new Exam Board reports will dramatically standardise and simplify the presentation of data, which can be scrutinised live at the Exam Board meeting, without the need to generate and manipulate data outside Portico in advance. The reports will be available to Exam Boards from June 2019.

Dr Helen Matthews, Deputy Director of Academic Services and Head of Academic Policy and Quality Assurance, said: ‘We’d like to thank all our colleagues in departments for their work. We are edging closer to our vision for producing reports at the touch of a button!’

Next Steps

25 March to 12 April: Academic Services will be holding a series of briefings for Exam Board Chairs, Board Administrators and other staff involved with Exam Boards. These high level briefings will provide an overview of the new regulations, system improvements and the resulting changes to Exam Board processes. Please watch out for the invitation via your faculty.

More technical training will be provided during the third term for staff involved with processing marks and running the reports. In addition, supported drop-in sessions will also be held to assist staff as they prepare for their Exam Boards. Further details about these events and how to book a place will be provided soon.

Further information: 

Contact email for further information: academic.services@ucl.ac.uk