An audit of first year assessments from last term, organised by Imperial College Union (ICU), has found a large range in how promptly departments provide feedback.

While nearly 90% of assessed feedback last term was returned within the recommended ten working day time-frame, there was a wide range from department to department. Overall the Faculty of Natural Sciences returned the most assessments within the time-frame, with 93% of items coming back to students within ten working days. The Faculty of Medicine, which had the fewest number of assessments, also had the lowest rate of returned work, with 80% of items returned within the time frame.

Broken down by department, there rate of return varied widely: the worst-performing departments were Medical Biosciences and Mechanical Engineering, which had a rate of return of 33% and 50% respectively. A number of departments were completely compliant with the recommendations, with Physics, Chemical Engineering, and Undergraduate Medicine returning all assessments within the time-frame.

“The reasons behind the delay were only communicated in 23% of cases”

However, where feedback was late, the reasons behind the delay were only communicated to students in 23% of cases. Many departments did not provide any information to students regarding late feedback.

The audit, the first College-wide attempt to assess feedback timeliness, was organised by Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education). It follows the recent Policy of Academic Feedback, put in place by the College last year, which stipulates departments should set timelines for feedback delivery, and communicate delays to this feedback as soon as possible. This is the first academic year the policy is in effect.

Burstow told Felix: “It is reassuring to see that feedback is generally reaching first year students within the stipulated time-frame, [but] it is unacceptable that students are not being told when and why their feedback will be late.”

The data for the audit was provided by ICU’s Academic Representatives, and was compared to departmental standards provided by the College. Burstow told Felix: “I would like to offer huge thank you to all the Academic Reps who helped; it would not have been possible without you.”

The audit will be presented at the College’s Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee (QAEC) in April.