Students

Academic Measures in the Wake of COVID-19

This Question and Answer (Q&A) section highlights the main academic issues which you might be concerned about; it serves as a set of instructions aimed to answer the points that might be causing you confusion during the lockdown, such as the P/R Exceptional Grading Policy, distance learning, financial concerns, exams, graduation, etc.
This document does not cover all the questions that you might have in mind; therefore, we believe that it can be further developed and enriched with your feedback and comments.

If you have any inquiry, please don’t hesitate to communicate with us at dpstudents@usek.edu.lb.

P/R Exceptional Grading Policy
1. Does this optional Pass/Repeat grading policy apply to me?
This policy applies to all undergraduate and graduate students, but you are always encouraged to work closely with your academic advisor before making such a decision. Please check the list of courses eligible for P/R grading.

2. When do I have to make the decision about the Pass/Repeat grading?
Your decision should be made after the final grades of the Spring Semester are officially posted. After that, you will have one week to confirm your selection. You will receive a link with the list of courses you are currently enrolled in and you will be able to choose on a course-by-course basis if you opt for the P/R exceptional grading policy or not. Please note that all type of holds will be waived during this week for you to be able to choose the grades. If you don’t notify us of your decision to opt for the P/R grading within the specified deadline, your numeric grade will automatically be considered your final grade.

3. What is the passing grade for P?
- The passing grade for most undergraduate courses is (60/100), but some require (70/100).
- The passing grade for graduate courses is (70/100), but some require (75/100) or (80/100).
- Accordingly, your P grade will depend on the normal passing grade for each course. Please check the list of courses eligible for P/R grading where you can find the passing grade equivalent to each course.

4. Is choosing between the numeric and the Pass/Repeat grades applicable per course, or for all the courses taken in the Spring Semester 2020? Is it possible to have a hybrid grading system on my transcript this semester?
The exceptional grading policy is available on a course-by-course basis; you can choose the numeric or the P/R grade for each course.

5. After opting for the (P) option, will I be able to change to a numeric grade?
If you opt for the (P/R) option, the decision will be final and there will be no opportunity to change back to a regular numeric or vice versa.

6. Are the Pass/Repeat grades for the Spring 2020 courses counted in my GPA calculation?
The P/R courses will not be counted in your GPA; however, the P courses will be counted in the earned credits and the R courses will have to be retaken.

7. Is there some guidance on which courses I should convert to the P/R grading?
If it is to your advantage, you may replace one or more numeric grades with the P/R grading that will not be included in your GPA calculation. The general guidance is that you may want to opt for the P/R grading for any course in which you earned a grade that might lower your current GPA.

8. In the future, I am considering graduate and professional schools. Does this affect how I make this decision?
We do not control how these external agencies recalculate GPAs; students are generally advised to maintain strong letter grades, especially in key courses related to their programs of study. Please speak with your academic advisor about this, as you may consider maintaining letter grades even if they slightly decrease your GPA.

9. What are the potential consequences for choosing the P/R option for a cross-registered course?
If you are a cross-registered student, you are advised to consult with your university administration before choosing the P/R option in order to understand the consequences of such a choice.

10. Does the P/R system put at risk the accreditation for my degree set by the Ministry of Education, or even at USEK when enrolling in a master program?
Opting for the exceptional grading P/R option will not affect the accreditation of your degree or future enrollment at USEK.

11. Does the P/R grading system apply on thesis and FYPs?
The P/R grading policy might be applied to some thesis and FYPs. Please check the list of courses eligible for P/R grading. However, if you need the numeric grade for future purposes (Master or PhD applications), you can request it from the Registrar Office.

12. Does the P/R grading system apply on internships?
The P/R grading policy might be applied to the internship courses. Please check the list of courses eligible for P/R grading.

13. If I opt now for a P grade, will I be able to request a certificate for the numeric grade attributed to my thesis, internship or other courses when applying for a PhD, residency or abroad studies?
Yes. The Registrar Office can provide you with an official document, but not the official grade transcript, that shows the original numerical grade of a course that was changed to P.

14. Will there be a specific mention on my transcript showing that specific measures were taken during the Spring Semester 2020 due to the disruption and crisis?
Yes. An additional remark on your transcript will mention that all academic evaluations for the 2019-2020 Spring Semester were made in exceptional circumstances.

15. What should I do if my academic performance has been impacted?
The University is aware that this is a worrying time for many with friends and family affected by the pandemic. If you feel your academic performance has been impacted, you must contact your advisor and opt for the alternate P/R grading option. On the other hand, and in order to alleviate your anxiety during this Spring Semester only, the final grades will not have any impact on your academic standing (probation or suspension).

16. What does the grade IP mean?
The grade IP (In Progress) will be granted to courses which cannot be entirely delivered online and which will be suspended for the current Spring Semester. These courses will be resumed as soon as face-to-face meetings are permitted. Otherwise you will have to register the courses during the upcoming semester.

17. Should I settle the tuition fees relating to suspended courses?
Noting that penalties and payment deadlines are no longer applicable, students can pay the remaining fees of the suspended courses once the University opens and courses are resumed. No additional charges will be added.
Distance Learning
1. What are the technical requirements I need to be successfully involved in distance learning?
Technical requirements vary from an online course to another, but most students need at least a high-speed Internet connection, a computer capable of running the Learning Management System (Moodle) and specified online learning software (such as Microsoft Teams). Courses using web-conferencing software require mainly microphones, and in particular cases webcams.

2. What if I don’t meet these requirements?
For most of the courses, smartphones and tablets alone may be sufficient.
As for Internet connection, USEK has taken the initiative to request free unlimited mobile data bundles from the Ministry of Telecommunication and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to support student online learning.
Students who do not meet the above requirements should contact the Student Affairs Office (sao@usek.edu.lb) and ask for help.

3. What if I meet the requirements but have limited access to my courses?
In online classes, students learn at their own pace. Although synchronous sessions are conducted, they are recorded, and their related links are made available. As for the other types of learning activities, they are posted on Moodle and you can access them anytime. Regarding the assessment activities, they are announced ahead of time so that you can manage your access accordingly. In case the timing is not suitable, you should inform your instructor asap, so that he/she can reschedule the assessment or provide you with another opportunity to undertake it at a different time.

4. Are my instructors taking into consideration these issues while developing online learning and assessment activities?
Instructors know that not all of their students meet the above-mentioned requirements; they also know about the internet connectivity issues as they are dealing with them too and are designing their courses accordingly.
Please trust that USEK’s administration, instructors and staff are doing their best to provide you with the needed support during the nationwide knockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, as your interests are our main goal.

5. What if a learning or assessment activity requires a specific computer or software that I don’t have?
Inform your instructor about your case for him/her to provide you with an alternative mean to undertake the activity.

6. What if I have technological difficulties?
You may contact the IT Office by sending an email to servicedesk@usek.edu.lb.

7. How will the lab courses, studio-based courses, clinical courses, internships, senior projects, and other particular types of courses be delivered and graded?
Instructors, with the support of the USEK Learning and Teaching Excellence Center (LTEC), are working on developing innovative methods of delivering lab, studio, clinical and other hands-on classes. While successfully adopted in some courses, some other courses still require face-to-face teaching. In the latter case, an In Progress (IP) grade will be delivered awaiting the course to be delivered during the next semester with no additional fees.
In case you are graduating and need the course to be delivered completely by the end of the current semester, reach out to your instructor to agree with him/her on an alternative mean of taking the course.

8. Will the final exams be scheduled online?
The courses that have been fully taught online will be also assessed online from Monday, May 11 to Friday, May 29, 2020 (with few exceptions in some Schools). Depending on the design of the course, some online exams will be proctored by the automated proctoring tool: Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor (Guides were sent to you by email).
Courses that require face-to-face contact will take place on campus and with be proctored in the usual way by faculty and staff.
The exam schedule will be shared with you soon, along with procedures related to the on-campus finals.
For more information, please reach out to your instructors.

9. When will the current Spring Semester end?
No specific date is actually set, as our outmost goal is the achievement of the learning outcomes. The semester will practically end once USEK’s administration makes sure, through both instructors and students’ feedback, that the courses outcomes have been covered, and all learning and assessment activities have been successfully performed.

10. If the final exams will take place on campus, can we meet our instructors to get answers to our questions and clarifications for unclear topics?
If the final exams will take place on campus, students will be allowed a reading period along with the opportunity to meet their instructors.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
1. Can I get my tuition fees reimbursed?
The University fully understands that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to everyone; however, the University is doing everything possible to ensure delivering course material and attaining defined learning outcomes. This includes arrangements for the continued delivery of teaching online as well as alternative assessment methods with additional contingency measures for students unable to complete those alternative methods. Thus, students will not be academically disadvantaged by the impact of Covid-19 and will be able to continue the semester at stake. However, the Financial Aid Office is always ready to provide you with all the help you need and address your concerns by email.

2. I am facing unexpected financial hardships because of COVID-19. Are there any resources available to help me?
You may contact the Financial Aid Office and ask about the possibility of spreading and/or postponing your payments.

3. Will switching to the optional Pass/Repeat grades negatively impact my financial aid eligibility?
Your financial aid is maintained irrespective of your GPA and the grading policy you opt for during the Spring Semester.

4. If we haven't applied for a financial aid before, how can we submit the social file for next year since the University is closed?
The Financial Aid Office is operating remotely; please send an email to the social worker responsible of your department. The name of the person you need to contact is in the email previously addressed to you on Saturday, 28 March. However, students will be allowed campus access according to the Government’s de-confinement decision.

5. If I regularly benefit from a USEK scholarship, do I need to opt for a numeric grade for this semester, or a hybrid choice, or can I keep this privilege by choosing the P/R option?
Merit Scholarships and Protocol Scholarships will be reserved during the upcoming Fall semester only to students opting for a numeric grade for all the courses they are enrolled in during the Spring Semester. Scholarships cannot be granted to students opting for a hybrid choice. (For more details on the requirements of the Merit Scholarship, please click here and for the requirements of the Protocol Scholarship, please click here).

6. If I opt now during the Spring Semester to a hybrid choice (by choosing the P/R option), how can I regain my privilege to the Merit Scholarship?
If you decide to currently choose the exceptional grading policy (P/R) to any of your courses; you will be eligible to the Merit Scholarship during the upcoming Spring 2020-2021 if you keep a minimum of 12 credits (for Undergraduate studies) and 6 credits (for Graduate studies) graded numerically during the current Spring Semester. (While meeting all other academic conditions of the Merit Scholarship and academic rules).
Graduation
1. When do we graduate if we have incomplete grades (IP) for this semester?
The courses required for your graduation and which are currently suspended will be resumed as soon as we have an opportunity for face-to-face meeting (ultimately during the summer session).

2. Will the Graduation Ceremony be cancelled?
The University will provide updates regarding the Graduation Ceremony at the appropriate time and in accordance with the Covid-19 situation and evolvement. Currently, the decision is to postpone the ceremony until it is possible to celebrate your achievements.

3. If the graduation ceremony will not be held, will degrees still be conferred?
Yes, degrees will be conferred on time and you will be able to request official papers from the Registrar Office (registrar@usek.edu.lb).
Miscellaneous
1. Is there support available for students experiencing stress or anxiety as a result of the coronavirus outbreak?
The University continuously seeks to ensure the well-being of all its students. You can schedule remote counseling support services with the University Counseling Center (UCC) by sending an email to ucc@usek.edu.lb

2. What precautions is USEK taking to protect the community against Covid-19?
The University Council and the Crisis Management Committee are meeting regularly to oversee and monitor the situation while closely coordinating with the Ministry of Public Health and following the guidelines set by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
• Noting that all USEK campuses are closed, very limited access is given to staff and faculty on duty with very high precaution measures.
i. Access is limited to the main gate.
ii. Special equipment used at the main gate to sanitize all cars and individuals accessing the campus.
iii. Sanitizer dispensers have been placed across the campus along with the necessary signage.

3. I am a prospective student. How can I apply to USEK with the pandemic closure?
You can apply through the online admission application form on USEK website and assist to the Zoom meetings held by the head of the recruitment division. For more details, you can follow our official social media platforms or address all your concerns to admissions@usek.edu.lb.

4. Are there any classes offered during the Summer Session?
We will not offer a full Summer Session; however, specific classes will open only to students who are expected to graduate, and the students of the School of Law and Political Sciences can benefit from a 2nd session (Any additional updates regarding the Summer Session will be communicated to you at the appropriate time).

5. Do we pay summer registration fees if some courses are not fully completed online this semester?
No registration fees will be charged for resuming courses during the Summer Session.

6. Is the Withdraw date postponed?
The Withdraw date has been postponed till April 27. We will inform you by email about any modifications in the academic calendar.

7. I am a graduate student working on my thesis. How will this situation affect my thesis deadlines?
All graduate students conducting research for their thesis/dissertation are expected to continue their research activities remotely. Consult regularly your research supervisor/advisor about your progress, concerns and needs. In order to help you manage your expectations, the following have been created to offer you some flexibility. You may either:
a. make your thesis defense remotely through video conferencing; or
b. postpone your thesis defense and re-enroll in the next semester as you see fit ( if you are already in third and last registration, please check question 8), especially in the case of research that requires extra time to conduct surveys in hospitals, schools, industries, etc.

8. What if I am on my third and last registration of thesis, and I am not able to present my work before the deadline, would I have to pay again the full due amount for a new registration in 6XX A, or could I benefit from an amended payment?
Students will be granted a special authorization for an additional registration in the module 6XX B (for the third time) during the summer session.

9. Can I extend the submission date for my thesis to be able to physically defend my thesis without having to pay for an additional semester?
Yes, the submission and defense of the thesis can be extended for the summer session without any additional charges.

10. Are the fifth-year medical students going to have shadowing (doublage) in the summer?
Yes, depending on how the medical activities will resume in NDS hospital and in respect to the applied COVID-19 crisis security measures.

11. For the internship, are the past few months going to be counted as normal or is there going to be a delay in the program and in the graduation later?
The SMMS council will evaluate the amount of your duties either in NDS or in the other partner hospitals to adapt them and will start a new online strategy next week to consolidate the clinical and practical skills.
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