When is a change not a change?

When it’s to do with Open University cut off times for TMAs.

There has been a well publicised change to TMA cut off times in the works for some time now from 12 midnight to 12 noon. Clear so far. However, the following message has been posted to StudentHome this morning (my italics):

Reminder – Change to cut off time for TMAs, CMAs, and iCMAs

With effect from tomorrow, 25 December 2009, the cut off time for tutor marked assignments (TMAs) and computer marked assignments (CMAs and iCMAs) will change to 12 noon. This means that you should ensure that your assignment is submitted to arrive by noon on the cut off date. This brings the policy for all assignments into line with end of course assessments (ECAs). However, there will be a 12 hour grace period so any assignments received up until midnight on the cut off date will still be accepted. Any assignments received on or after midnight will not be accepted unless an extension has previously been agreed. No extensions are permitted for CMAs or iCMAs.

So, I read that as saying that the effective cut off time is still 12 midnight for TMAs, unless you’ve agreed an extension with your tutor beforehand. The same as it currently is. Is anyone else as bemused as me by all of this?

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Reader Comments

  1. Alex

    Yes, I’m confused.

    If there’s a 12 hour grace period, then really nothing has changed (unless in the past that same grace period meant you had until 12 noon the following day).

    In the short 15 point course I’m doing (D171), my tutor tried to suggest that the cut off was 12 noon for the TMA that was due early December (this coming about 2 days from the deadline on a TMA everyone was struggling with). After a small uprising, she decided the noon deadline would not be in effect until January.

    I think I’ll make sure all my TMAs are submitted by 12 noon from now on, just to avoid any of this nonsense.

    • timholyoake

      Hi Alex,

      Definitely looks like a change to a change (meaning no real change) as far as I can work out. The article linked to below was posted in the ‘news’ section of the OU platform website at the end of October, making it very clear that the original intent was to enforce a 12 noon cut off time for TMAs: http://www.open.ac.uk/platform/news/ou-news/tma-cut-time

      Why can’t the OU just be straight about this and say something like “We’ve changed our minds on this one due to …” rather than pretending that a real change has been made?

      Happy Christmas to you – and all the best for your OU studies in 2010.

  2. Arnold

    I gather that it’s down to some technical issues that had arisen when everyone was shooting for midnight. Basically anything that went wrong at that point wasn’t going to get sorted out as the IT support people were tucked up in bed.

    What they hadn’t thought about was that an awful lot of people at the OU are working and therefore probably can’t run with a noon cutoff.

    Hence, the daft situation of a noon cutoff with 12 hours grace.

    Still, could be worse… my human biology course is back in the dark ages of postal submission which lops off at least two days from the deadline.

  3. Alex

    Sorry, only just saw your reply. I hope you and your family had a great Christmas too, and that you recharged your batteries for DD303, which looks to be a beast of a course!

  4. Louisa

    Hi Tim

    I laughed when I saw “the change” and had exactly the same response as yourself. Ludicrous! Might see you in Bath – wonder if we were there the same time last year together as it rained on my Wed afternoon off too!

    And Arnold – I too am studying the biology and have found the postal system a hideous step backwards – in particular the 2 and a half weeks wait for feedback for TMA01. My ED209 tutor was too good (eTMA sent Fri 9pm, mark received Sat 12pm!).

    Hope you all have a lovely NYE and good luck with your CITP(?) studies, Tim!


    • timholyoake

      Hi Louisa,

      A Happy New Year to you as well. I did the DXR222 residential school during w/c 4th August 2008 and while I don’t think the weather was particularly good all week, it simply poured and poured with rain on the Wednesday afternoon off. That’s another good reason for choosing Bath – at least the halls aren’t too far away from the work rooms and once you’re in the central bit of the campus there’s shelter from the elements!


  5. Sarra

    Found this page when I googled for ‘eTMA grace period’ trying to clarify the process. The official wording is quite tricksy and I wondered if it was deliberately so! Only in this sense: assignments can be *submitted* till noon but any *received* till midnight will still be considered… i.e. was it still possible to *submit* using the eTMA system?

    So after a lovely, sunny phone call to the helpline I can advise: yes, the eTMA system still accepts user submissions AFTER 12 noon on the cut-off date!

    (Of course, the only way for me – as this is my first assignment – to know 100% for sure is to wait and see what happens after noon…)

    This is for anyone who lands on this page while searching for the same information as I was.

    The system is due to change to do away with the grace period, but it’s not been decided how soon.

Your thoughts?