UBC faculties offer Credit/D/Fail and W grading options during COVID-19 outbreak

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news cycle, UBC faculties have announced changes to grading schemes to ease the academic requirements for students.

On March 23, the faculties of science, commerce, applied science and arts announced changes to end-of-term grading in emails to students. Under the changes, students will be able to withdraw from their courses with a W standing or change their registration in a course to Credit/D/Fail.

“We recognize that the past days and weeks have been particularly stressful for you as you have transitioned to online learning, adjusted to social distancing, and perhaps moved home. To support you in this exceptional time, there is need for more flexibility related to your courses,” reads a statement from Dr. Ian Cavers, associate dean students for the faculty of science on the faculty’s website.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, UBC Media Relations Director Matthew Ramsey said decisions about grading options are happening at the faculty and department levels.

“This is a complex issue for the university to articulate in one broad communication as faculties and departments may differ,” wrote Ramsey.We know these are challenging times for our students and really appreciate the patience they’ve shown as we plan for what are truly unprecedented changes to UBC academics and operations.”

In his email to arts students, Dean Gage Averill acknowledged that COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions are hurting some students more than others.

“The abrupt and necessary move to online learning has created inequities amongst students, especially around how well you are able to focus and study from home,” he wrote.

“… Students are facing a pandemic that affects you, your families, and everyone you know. In some cases, it has completely uprooted the fabric of daily life including the reassuring companionship of friends or the rituals used to assist in your studies …”

The option to withdraw will result in a W on a student’s transcript with no credits or tuition refunds available.

Credit/D/Fail allows a student to receive credits from a course, but no percentage grade will be administered and it will not affect grade point average. A “credit” will be assigned for a grade over 55 per cent. A “D” will be assigned for a grade between 54.9 and 50 per cent, and a “fail” for a grade below 50 per cent.

Other universities across Canada have also made the decision to extend course add/drop deadlines for their students including the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto and University of Alberta.

UBC student Sina Younesi also started a petition to encourage UBC to follow suit, which has gained over 2,000 signatures at the time of publication.

Arts Academic Advising said in the same email that they are currently working to create a website that will outline grading options clearly. Academic advising for most faculties has moved online.

In his email, Averill emphasized that UBC is working to support students as they prioritize taking care during the pandemic.

“Please do everything you can to assure your health and wellbeing and that of your family, friends and communities,” wrote Averill. “And please know that the work we are doing to re-shape teaching, assessments, and grading is meant to support you in this.”

This is an evolving story and more information will be added as it becomes available.

This article has been updated to include information about Credit/D/Fail and W options for Bachelor of Commerce students and Engineering students.