At Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union, we support students calling for additional mitigation to protect their grades in light of the new national lockdown, in the form of a “No Detriment Policy” or a suitable equivalent. We believe that it is unfair to expect students to produce the same quality of work as in a normal year when they find themselves in such abnormal circumstances.
Due to the national lockdown, many students will be unable to access necessary resources to complete their assessments, unable to study in their preferred work environment, unable to have face to face conversations with their lecturers and tutors, and may be suffering with additional implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as mental health struggles, financial difficulties, and increased caring responsibilities - this is not an exhaustive list of the ways in which students may be affected by the current situation. We respect that the Universities are unable to provide the expected quality and service of education in the midst of a pandemic and strict social distancing regulations, therefore we ask Universities to respect that students may be unable to produce the same quality of assessments.
We are campaigning, using your feedback, for the Universities to protect students’ grades with a “No Detriment Policy”, or a suitable equivalent.
All the best,
Charlotte Agnew (SU President Welfare & Inclusivity)
Amelia Banton (SU President Experience)
Cara Chittenden (SU President Exeter)
Lizzy Marshall (SU President Falmouth)
University of Exeter Cornwall Campuses Update
Last updated 9 March 2021
In February, Cara collated all the feedback on the No Disadvantage Guarantee from Reps, ROS, direct messages, emails, and our Big Student Survey. She passed it all on to the DVC Education and the Academic Dean for Students, highlighting students’ lack of trust in the institution to protect their outcomes, and the need for students to feel more control over their futures.
On 24 February, Cara, Jack (UG Education Officer), and Marz (PG Education Officer), alongside some other Exeter and Falmouth University students/reps, attended a meeting with Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, where they questioned her on a number of things, including the lack of a nationwide No Detriment Policy (especially considering the nationwide allowances that have been made for GCSE and A-Level students this year). Ms Donelan responded that, while the Government would not mandate universities on this matter, they expected universities to understand the challenges facing students and help mitigate these – she would continue to reiterate this if necessary.
Finally, following feedback from student representatives, Tim Quine, DVC Education, agreed to hold a live Q&A event with students to answer questions and address concerns around the No Disadvantage Guarantee. Cara co-chaired this event on 25 February and posed questions from students around how “scaling” would work in practice, how the policies affected PGT students, and when details of the policy will be finalised. Tim Quine has produced a video of him explaining the No Disadvantage Guarantee and why he believes it is robust enough to support students this year. If you still have questions, or missed the event on the 25th, please watch this video and/or get in touch with Cara so she can pass them on.
25 January 2021
Cara (SU President Exeter), Marz Najeeb (Exeter Postgraduate Education Officer), and Jack Wilkins (Exeter Undergraduate Education Officer) have written a statement alongside representatives from Exeter Guild and UCU regarding Exeter's policy on protecting student outcomes this year.
Click here to read it in full.
20 January 2021
On Wednesday 13 January, Save Our Grades day occurred in which many students, alongside the campaign group Students For Academic Mitigation, created a media storm to make their concerns around the quality of their education and outcomes clear. This increased pressure on Exeter to provide more substantial mitigation for students.
On Thursday 14 January, an APACs meeting took place in which student representatives (including the President Exeter, UG Education Officer, PG Education Officer, and Politics Subject Chair) once again pushed the University of Exeter to provide more protection for student outcomes. The university explained how APACs (Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees) would have more powers to consider students' individual circumstances when awarding outcomes at the end of this academic year. Student representatives argued that this wasn’t enough. Some progress was made as the university brought forward a new possible policy, which allowed more generosity in awarding students a higher degree classification if they sit near a degree class boundary (e.g. if they’re at 67.5 they could be considered eligible for a First-Class degree).
On Friday 15 January, following the small but positive progress in this meeting, Cara agreed to co-sign an email from Tim Quine, DVC Education, to students, outlining the current agreed-upon policies for how their outcomes would be protected. This wasn’t necessarily the finalised set of policies, with acknowledgement in the e-mail that conversations would be ongoing.
Since the communications on Friday, Cara has received lots of feedback from students dissatisfied with the policies outlined. She is currently gathering this feedback to share with the university at the next opportunity. If you have feedback, please either pass it on to your Course Reps, Cara herself, or ROS (our anonymous feedback system).
On Tuesday 19 January, Cara co-signed a statement seeking support from UCU, one of the key staff unions at the university. It’s hoped that academic staff at Exeter can support students in their calls for a more substantial No Detriment Policy, increasing the pressure on the university to provide one.
11 January 2021
Following the meeting on Friday, Cara has co-signed a letter to the Russell Group, from sabbatical officers across the country, asking for a reconsideration of the blanket statement rejecting No Detriment policies this year.
Cara has also co-signed a letter to APAC (Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committees), expressing the many reasons a No Detriment Policy is needed this year. This precedes a meeting on Thursday which will consider adjusting APACs to better protect students in light of the pandemic.
Finally, Cara is encouraging students who are upset, angry, or feel abandoned by their university to get involved with #SaveOurGrades day on Wednesday 13 September. Across the University of Exeter’s campuses, students will be creating a media storm by flooding the University's Instagram comments, DMs, Facebook page, and emails, asking for more protection for their grades. Please see Students For Academic Mitigation’s social media pages for more details on the event.
8 January 2021
Cara (President Exeter) and Jack Wilkins (UG Education Officer – Exeter) sent a letter to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education at Exeter, urgently calling for a No Detriment Policy, or a suitable equivalent, to be implemented in light of January’s national lockdown. The letter was formulated with feedback from Subject Chairs and the online Make A Change petition included. Please see below for a copy of the letter.
SU letter to DVC for Education at Exeter
Cara, Jack and Marz (PG Education Officer – Exeter) have now been invited to a meeting with the DVC Education, other senior education staff at the University of Exeter, and student representatives from the Streatham Campus, to discuss implementing a new mitigation policy to meet these demands from students.
In this meeting the University aligned itself with the Russell Group’s stance that individual “no detriment” or “safety net” policies are not necessary or appropriate this year, and explained fully the range of mitigation policies that have been put in place to protect students in the absence of “no detriment”, including scaling and self-certification mitigation. Cara, Jack and Marz argued for the need to rethink this blanket stance against “no detriment”, providing ideas for equivalent alternatives, as they will continue to do over the coming weeks. Keep making your voices heard: this is not the end! Students should expect communications from the University around mitigation soon.
University of Falmouth Update (from Lizzy, President Falmouth):
Last updated 19 January 2021
Falmouth have agreed to a No Detriment Policy for Falmouth Study Block 2. They sent out an F Word email on 14 January stating they will “ensure there is no detriment to your progress and achievement” and have also looked at your assessments, teaching and limitations to adapt them appropriately. You will not be disadvantaged by the pandemic conditions.
15 January 2021
I’ve further been in a meeting with Head of Quality Assurance and have read over the comms statement on 'no detriment' they are sending out soon. This is a great update as it really drives home that Falmouth are supporting and protecting our students' grades.
8 January 2021
Through the Falmouth Reps (shout out to SOFT Reps and their petition) and many other students expressing their concerns to me regarding their grades, I was able to voice these concerns directly to the Director of Learning and Teaching. We discussed a strategy to ensure students’ grades would not be unfairly disadvantaged by the impacts of Covid which, also discussed with the Head of Quality Assurance (who manages assessments) I was able to speak with Provost and Chief Operations Officer. We all agreed that, above all, students should receive no disadvantage to their grades.
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