STUDENTS have been ordered to resit an exam after “irregularities” were uncovered by an exam board.

An investigation has been launched at South Essex College, Luker Road, Southend, after concerns were raised about staff and the exam.

About 20 art and design students at South Essex College were given the devastating news their hard work must be repeated after their final assessments were called into question.

A college spokesman said: “The college is aware of an issue with one exam within the art and design department which has regrettably resulted in a small number of students having to retake this part of their assessment.

“We would like to apologise unreservedly to all of those affected for the inconvenience and distress this has caused.”

The college has declined to give further information on the nature of the irregularities but confirmed it involved a one year course - Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design.

Students who wished to progress on to a subsequent course have been able to do so “in light of the issue”. Students are also being supported through a number of evening and weekend sessions to enable them to prepare for the assessment re-sit when it becomes available.

The spokesman added: “Our current priority is to work closely with the students involved to ensure they are able to retake the assessment and receive their correct results as soon as possible.

“We have carried out an investigation alongside the awarding body to ensure we implement any recommendations so any similar mistakes do not happen in the future.”

The college offers a wide range of specialist creative areas in its courses.

Work is assessed through a mixture of practical tasks and supporting written material.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Council for Further Education exam board said: “We’re aware of this issue and as indicated by the college we’re currently working with them to support them to rectify their issue and put appropriate mitigation in place.”