It is clear that this year has been unprecedented for both students and staff. Covid restrictions and the University’s restructure have left students stressed and unsure about what will happen to their studies and grades in the following months.
We are aware that the University currently has special circumstances to mitigate against the effects of Covid. However, it has become apparent that this system does not currently inspire confidence in the student body. Furthermore, students and staff may have differing ideas on what constitutes as a covid mitigating circumstance. This system also allows the possibility of a students’ mitigating circumstances being rejected, which would distress a student during an already difficult time. The covid special circumstances form also allows the possibility of an ‘admin overload’ for the University if a lot of students submit requests.
The Students’ Union proposes that the University implements a safety net or no detriment policy for this academic year. We understand that the University decided to suspend previous force majeure regulations, as there was more time to prepare for the implementation of blended learning. However, we as an SU believe that due to various circumstances, students are experiencing a much worse academic experience than usual and that the University should create a policy to reflect this to offer a layer of protection.
This academic year has proved exceptionally challenging for many students. For example, many students who are parents are struggling to complete assignments and exams at the moment, and are considering deferring, due to the fact that schools across the whole nation have closed. Additionally, a large proportion of students are feeling lonely, isolated, and lack confidence that they will perform optimally in their assessments.
We understand that the no detriment policy implemented last year is no longer suitable as it would not be applicable to first year students, and we do not believe it would be fair to judge second year students based on their grades for the first semester of their first year. We believe it is possible to create an innovative policy based on current sector best practice.
In support of above there is currently a live student petition on this topic which has been submitted to the Students’ Union and has reached 450 signatures. It includes the following text:
“As students we need more support and a safety net in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The current situation has had a huge impact on students, and has affected our studies and our mental health - this should be taken into account when marking our work.
We have now experienced nearly a year of almost exclusively online learning and we should be entitled to a safety net as there has been continuous uncertainty and increased pressure, and many students have been struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.”
This further demonstrates the need for the University to act.
Many other Universities have already begun to implement No Detriment or Safety Net policies to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic this year. Therefore, we urge Bangor University to do the same and to ensure that this is communicated clearly to students.
Drawing on some best practice and our own beliefs, we believe that any Bangor University No Detriment or Safety Net policy should include the following: