Teaching after the Easter Break 02/04/21

In recent weeks, Welsh Government provided guidance on teaching beyond Easter, which is that Universities should move towards blended learning, from 12th April. However, the University will continue to offer our curriculum to all students online (please note in certain subject areas, for example many of our health related programmes, teaching has remained in-person across this academic year).  

The University will also be running the examination process through online assessment, as we did in January.

These changes will allow students to have access to the teaching that they need online. Where the University are able to offer it, this will also enable students who would prefer in-person teaching to be able to access this if they want.

 

Statement on University Halls Rent Rebate Announcement 03/03/21

We at Undeb Bangor believe that students' should not be charged for accommodation that they have not and cannot use as a result of Covid-19. We have been working closely with the University to discuss some of our demands of offering rebates to those residents who have not been able to return to Bangor for the weeks that they have not been in residence, and to allow students that have permission to study from home, and have not used their room to apply to be released from their contract with no-penalty. Our discussions have been positive and the University want to ensure that they act fairly for all students in their Halls of Residence.

The University, have kept Halls fee arrangements under review for students who have not returned to Bangor this term, until they were clear about when students were likely to return and once all the facts were known about Welsh Government requirements. We are pleased to announce after our recent discussions the University Executive team has agreed this week to offer a rebate to all residents for the weeks that they have not been in residence during some or all of the period from Monday 11 January - Sunday 28 March 2021. 

Each student will be asked to apply for a rebate based on their occupancy dates. This will be verified using room usage data, and the discount will be applied before the final Halls payment is due. It has also been agreed that, in a small number of exceptional cases, where students have permission to study from home, and have not used their room, that these students can apply to be let out of their contract.

Further details will be sent directly to all eligible student residents in the next week or so, alongside details of how to apply for the rebate.

We are continuing to work to represent the Student Voice in these unprecedented and fast-moving circumstances, and thank the University for listening to what students are calling for.

 

Statement on Covid-19 Higher Education Student Support Fund 03/03/21

As many of you will have been made aware, HEFCW the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales have recently announced £40 million of extra funding for Welsh Universities from Welsh Government to help students who are experiencing any form of financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Bangor has been allocated roughly £3.6 million of the extra funding.

Iwan Evans, UMCB President said “We've been working very closely with the University Executive to ensure that this funding is accessible for as many students as possible. We understand that the pandemic has effected everyone in different ways, but we hope that this news will help to reduce some worries you may have about your finances.

We are thankful to HEFCW and the University for ensuring student hardship is addressed. We, at Undeb Bangor, will continue to listen to your voice and ensure that your concerns are taken seriously by the University as we get to the light at the end of the tunnel."

All Universities in Wales have agreed to take the same approach to how the funding is allocated to ensure consistency, resulting in a slight delay. However, an approach has now been agreed across the sector of a fixed payment of £350 made to the following categories of students (with only one payment being made for students who are in multiple categories).

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Family income

  • Disability

  • Care leavers / estranged students

  • Being the first member of the family to attend university

Eligible students will be contacted individually by the University in the next two weeks with further details.

In the meantime, all students can still contact moneysupport@bangor.ac.uk if they are experiencing financial difficulties. Each student's need will be assessed, and financial support will be made available based on individual circumstances.

 

Statement follwoing Welsh Goverment Announcement on Teaching Delivery 01/02/21

Following the announcement in a statement from Universities Wales on teaching delivery that was released today, we just wanted to explain to you that the news essentially means that teaching will be delivered online, with the exception of on-campus classes that are essential for meeting requirements of Professional and Statutory Regulatory bodies, and on-campus classes that require the use of specialist facilities or for example fieldwork.

We are aware that the updates can be confusing, however the information provided by the University on teaching arrangements until the 22nd February will now effectively apply until Easter. The University will be updating students with further information and detail on this as soon as possible.

As an SU we are very aware of students concerns on issues such as rent, tuition fees and the need for a safety net/no detriment policy. Rest assured we will be continuing to represent you and raise these issues with the University Executive, working towards the best possible outcome for students, and we will update you on any progress.

If you have any questions for the University Executive join our live Q&A session with members of the Executive team this Wednesday the 3rd of February at 5pm, live on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/events/775286269749688 

 

Undeb Bangor response to £40m to support students 18/01/21

The Welsh Government has today announced £40 MILLION to help students deal with the financial impacts of the pandemic - including accommodation costs for students in the private rented sector. The money will be given to universities; it will be prioritised for the most vulnerable students and will also be used to strengthen advice and support services.

We know how COVID-19 has disadvantaged students’ entire university experience, and we realise that many students are experiencing severe situations of hardship. We welcome this additional funding that puts money back into the pockets of students who have struggled throughout the pandemic and are glad that Welsh Government has responded to the national call for student compensation and a financial support package for the sector.

It is particularly vital that this money also reaches students who live in the private rented sector.

We will be involved in discussions with the university on the plans for utilising this additional funding and will be working to get more information on what this announcement means for students.

 

Statement 15/01/21

Your Sabbatical Officer Team calling on Bangor University for Better Support for Students

We as your Sabbatical Officer Team know how COVID-19 has disadvantaged your learning, your social activities and your entire University experience, and we realise that many students are experiencing severe situations of hardship. This is why we’re calling on Bangor University for better support for students’, but our call doesn’t stop at Bangor and we’re joining the national call for student compensation and a financial support package for the sector.

Rent Rebates

Many students have recently been in touch with us about rent rebates. We fully believe that students shouldn’t be charged for accommodation that they have not or cannot use as a direct result from the COVID restrictions and guidance coming from Universities and government. As a Students' Union we have been engaging with and supporting the Bangor rent strike student group and are trying to help them voice their opinions and demands, whilst also offering advice to ensure that students do not put themselves at risk and are aware of the possible consequences and legal implications. We commend the work the group of students have done to fight for change in an effort to secure better material conditions for themselves and their fellow students. We know that what they are campaigning for is the result of lively support from a large part of the student body, which agrees with the principles of the movement.

We continue to keep open dialogue with the group and have explained that we will be using our positions as Sabbatical Officers to take this matter directly to the University Senior Management calling on them to do the right thing.

We have held discussions with many student groups, including Bangor Rent Strike, where we have been able to agree realistic demands that build on the successes we have already achieved. The fact that we were successful prior to Christmas in working with the University to secure a 10% refund for students living in university halls shows how we can ensure that the university listens to what students are calling for. However, the situation has now changed, and we are putting pressure on the University and private accommodation providers to ensure fairness and value for money for all our students.   

No Detriment/Safety Net

We realise that the current situation has left students stressed and unsure about what will happen to their studies and grades in the following months, and a large proportion of students are feeling lonely, isolated, and lack confidence that they will perform optimally in their assessments. We propose that the University implements a safety net or no detriment policy for this academic year. We 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. 

Student Mental Health and Wellbeing

The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact students’ mental health. Every single day has been challenging, and full of so much uncertainty. The effects of social distancing, lockdown and anxiety from the media is having an adverse impact on student mental health, and wellbeing. We have been working hard to ensure that all students are aware of the available mental health support and our wellbeing and peer to peer support projects and activities. Some of these activities include our weekly Connect@Bangor drop-ins with university mental health advisor’s and our volunteers, and weekly yoga sessions. We’re working closely with the university’s student support services and have held discussions with the university about how they’re spending additional funding received from Welsh Government to support student mental health services, which include financial hardship funds, services for self-isolating students and support for vulnerable students. We have also received some funding towards support for students from the Welsh Government and this has supported activities such as our Emotional Resilience Training, and Winter Care packages for student that remained in Bangor over the winter break.

We are here to support all Bangor University students. Having considered all comments and concerns we have heard from you; we want to formally express our expectations to the University, which are:

  1. The SU does not believe any student should be charged for accommodation that they have not/cannot use as a result of covid-19 implications.

  • Adjustment of existing University Halls rebate fee to rise to 25% in line with new guidelines from University/Government on return, as well as the compensating for services that are currently unavailable for students to use. We are also lobbying private accommodation with the same demands to be offered to students.

  • No-penalty contract release for all students unable to return to University or those wishing to move out.

  1. The University to ensure an academic safety net for all students through a no detriment policy. Which we have prepared a proposal to present to the University Executive outlining possible options – see more here

  1. Further promotion/signposting of mental health services and spaces available for students to use.

We feel that by committing to these proposals the University would not only be treating you fairly but would-be taking action to reduce the impact the pandemic has had on students’ entire University experience. It would send out a strong message to the rest of the sector, while also reinforcing the integrity of the university, our students, and Undeb Bangor.

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