Yesterday (26/11/2020), our University announced their ‘no detriment’ assessment measures for 2020/21. Since coming into the role as Officers back in July we have been lobbying for measures to be implemented that would mean you are not at a disadvantage due to the impact of Covid-19. We engaged with our student leaders to see what measures and support they would like to see implemented and then continuously raised these in meetings such as the Education Quality Standards Committee, Senate, Faculty / School Learning Teaching Quality Committees and in regular catch ups with the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Learning and Teaching (Peter Lambert) and the Acting Director of Academic Registry (Rachel Sheer). Your voice and your needs have been at the forefront of our activity, and it is incredible to see the impact you have on the decisions that have been made.
We highlighted the need for things such as personal tutor contact to be increased, lecture recordings to be available, extension to be accepted without the requirement for evidence, Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs) claims to be extended and for the removal of evidence and for deferrals to remain with the same conditions as last year. We looked at sector practice and worked with colleagues in other Students’ Unions to make sure our students could be given the best support possible. We must balance and recognise the fact we are going through a major pedagogical shift as the Bath Blend follows a flipped classroom approach, and of course through a pandemic. Equally, the preparations and adjustments Universities across the country have made since March mean that national regulations will not allow the same type of no detriment measures that students benefited throughout the last academic year, such as classification safety nets, at any university.
A considerable amount of work has gone into redesigning this year, we recognise and appreciate this does not mean that for all of you the quality of your education is of the same standard as you may have felt it was pre-Covid. We welcome the cooperation and work that has gone on this year with our Academic Reps and Faculty/School Reps who have been really engaged raising key issues with departments and highlighting them to us to escalate further if needed. Your voice created change and positively impacted the community around you.
It is also worth noting the support we have received from Senior Management in giving us the opportunity to raise emerging issues in meetings ensuring that the student voice was truly represented, listened to, and acted on. We are particularly grateful and proud that the University has listened to students and incorporated the majority of the demands that the Students’ Union has consistently raised in order to alleviate the impact the current crisis is having on student anxiety and mental health. This has ensured that measures, which students were highlighting as crucial, were reintroduced as part of this year’s ‘no detriment’ whilst ensuring the value of their degree from the University of Bath is not impacted.
There is always more that can be done and we will continue to lobby the university to ensure you are fully supported and that measures are in place to mitigate impacts beyond your control on your academic performance. A key issue we will keep lobbying the University to make progress on is self certification for extensions, as the University has fallen short of the expectation from students. The Students’ Union has called for measures that allow students to be able to be granted an extension without the need for evidence as to why that is needed, for seven calendar days. At the moment, to be granted an extension, students may still be asked for evidence of their situation from their Director of Studies, and of this the duration of extension differs across departments. However, our research of over 550 students shows that 56% of respondents do not feel comfortable approaching their Director of Studies to ask for an extension, with a key emphasis on students not wanting to disclose personal issues to academic staff whilst trying to meet deadlines. The call from the student community is clear, and we will continue to push for students to have the possibility to self certify. The need to present evidence to a Director of Studies can add undue stress and anxiety to students who are clearly already in a situation where they require more time to complete an assessment. We firmly believe that students should be treated as adults, and as such, their request should be granted without the need for evidence. We fully recognise the need and the duty of the University to provide adequate support, which is why we are fully understanding of the request for evidence on longer extensions and for IMCs, so that the appropriate support is given. We also recognise the importance of empowering our students so they feel comfortable reaching out and seeking support.
We will continue to lobby the university to implement measures that allow students to be granted an extension of seven calendar days without the need to present any evidence, across all departments of the University, as well as any other issues impacting you and the community of students around you.
We will continue working with the Reps to understand how the measures that have been announced support students and look into any additional ways which are raised to make sure the student body is supported during these challenging times.
Please do get in contact with the Officer Team if there is any way in which we can further support you.
Your SU Officers,
Franci, Annie, Freya, Tom, Fritz