OfS issues further guidance on retaining students’ assessed work

The Office for Students (OfS) has worked with a group of sector representatives to establish new guidance for universities and colleges on the retention of students’ assessed work in relation to OfS conditions B4 and B5.

The OfS’s conditions of registration require universities and colleges to ensure that the way they assess students is effective and that the qualifications awarded to students are credible. The guidance that accompanies the conditions sets out how universities and colleges should approach retaining appropriate records of students’ assessed work. The OfS welcomed feedback from the sector that asked for further information about how to interpret the OfS’s existing guidance on these conditions.

In acknowledgement of this feedback, the OfS set up a working group with sector representatives to draw on the group’s advice to develop supplementary guidance for providers. This group included representatives from Universities UK, the Association of Heads of University Administration, Jisc, and the Academic Registrars’ Council.

The supplementary guidance emphasises the latitude institutions have to make their own judgements about the retention of work and provides further guidance about the types of record that are sufficient for the OfS’s regulatory purposes. It also provides information about the factors institutions should consider when determining and sampling appropriate records of assessments for retention in their particular context.

This new guidance recognises that there are some forms of assessed work that it is not appropriate to retain. For example, it confirms that universities and colleges do not need to store large pieces of artwork and explains how universities and colleges can retain records of this, and other practical work.

Jean Arnold, Deputy Director of Quality for the Office for Students (OfS), said:

'We ask for records of students’ assessed work to be retained so we can judge whether students have been assessed effectively and whether that assessment is valid and reliable. These are important aspects of our approach to quality and standards and our ability to regulate in this area contributes to public confidence in the credibility of degrees.

'We understand that the expectation to retain records for five years was a new one, and that some universities and colleges were concerned about the burden and cost of this approach.

'We have listened to the sector’s concerns about our existing guidance for conditions B4 and B5 and worked closely with a group of sector representatives to develop the new guidance published today. I’m grateful for the input from this group. Informed by their feedback, this new guidance establishes that a representative sample of work may be appropriate, rather than retaining all work. Individual universities and colleges can also decide what assessed work it is appropriate for them to keep.'

Read the guidance


  1. Read more about the OfS’s conditions of registration. 
  2. Universities and colleges are expected to retain appropriate records of students’ assessed work for a period of five years after the end date of a course. Where possible, a provider is expected to retain records of student assessments in an anonymised form by removing students’ personal data from the records. However, in doing so, it should ensure that removal of students’ personal data would not limit the OfS’s ability to assess the provider’s compliance, including by ensuring that all of the work of an individual student can be identified from the records. 

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