Our letter to the University and the Government “We believe in better. And this is not good enough.”


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UoNSU have written a letter to the VC and Executive Board and the Government in response to the pandemic. "We believe in better. And this is not good enough."

Dear Vice-Chancellor and Executive Board of the University of Nottingham,

We believe in better. And this is not good enough.

We are writing to express our fears, and to seek your support and leadership, as the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic takes a grip nationally, locally and within the University community.

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union is led by our membership, those 34,000 students of the University of Nottingham. Our mission statement is to believe in better, and we aim to be leaders for our student community in shaping an inspiring and rewarding student experience.

We are grateful for the efforts of our colleagues in the University, who have worked so very hard for the past 6 months to mitigate the risks of infection and to create a student experience offer worthy of those who have earned the right to attend this prestigious institution. We have been in the (virtual) board rooms with you as decisions have been made. We have challenged, supported and created solutions with you. We have been inspired by the University’s efforts to creatively and proactively support the local and national efforts for test and trace. We know just how difficult, fast-paced and demanding this has been on the University team. We too have tried our utmost to provide a Welcome to the University and the Students’ Union community which is supportive and reassuring, which adds value, and which makes people feel a part of this great community. We have shared in the pain of the situation both with you, and our members.

It is time to be honest, with ourselves, with each other, with our students and with Government. It has not been possible to contain the infection within the student community, and it has not been possible to consistently provide a student experience that meets the most basic of expectations.

This is not good enough.

Already, our members are telling us;

  • We are scared, with many of us more vulnerable than others to this dreadful virus 
  • Our mental health is suffering, with confinement, increased anxiety and deprivation of human contact
  • Our learning experience is severely compromised, with some of us struggling to access the online learning effectively, and others on specific courses not able to access the face to face learning we need
  • Our physical health is suffering, with households increasingly isolated and being confined to small rooms with no access to outdoor spaces, and recreational activities limited
  • We are being disproportionately and unfairly targeted for the enforcement of rules, compromising our civil liberties
  • Our social experience is severely compromised, and we are struggling to meet with those people who add value to our lives and support our wellbeing
  • We are unable to access and benefit from stretched university support
  • We are being denied the opportunity to explore our authentic selves and find our place in the diverse university community
  • We are angry with those who blame us for what we see as a predicted and avoidable scenario
  • We are concerned for our friends, peers and those staff who are supporting and teaching us, who are all experiencing this pandemic with their own burdens and challenges, and who we can see are straining to get through each day
  • We are being demonised by a government seeking to blame others for their poor management of the pandemic, and a national press over-eager to find the negative stories
  • We do not feel like we are receiving value for money however are considerate that this issue sits with Government
  • We do not feel that University communication systems are effective in allowing for us to obtain sufficient, timely information and guidance to help us through the current difficulties. Furthermore, there are inconsistencies between the realities at the top and bottom meaning that internal conversations must be improved

And we know things are going to get worse.

We do not blame you or the University for this situation. This is clearly a national issue, and the solutions sit within the powers of the Government. We are asking for your help. 

We ask that you take a leadership role within your sector networks, including Universities UK and the Russell Group, to present an honest disposition of the situation that students at the University of Nottingham and across the UK are faced with. That you consider and re-open discussion on the role of the Government in the creation of this predicted and avoidable situation. And that you seek to influence the national policy and funding response aligned with NUS’ demands;

That students;

  • Be empowered to make their own choices; to remain on an online only course, to defer to a future year, or to leave their course entirely
  • Suffer no financial detriment, including in relation to private accommodation
  • Be treated fairly and proportionately as members of a civil society

We, like the University, are a values-led organisation and it is through the exploration of our values that we have come to these unfortunate conclusions on which we seek your intervention. We ask, in considering our requests, that you explore the University’s values: to what degree does the present situation represent the inclusivity, ambition, openness, fairness and respect the university purports to uphold?

Yours in brave and responsible collaboration,

The Full-Time Officer Committee on behalf of the University of Nottingham Students’ Union

Madeleine Fox | Sam Hawkins | Becca Craven 

Union Development Officer | Liberation Officer | Education Officer

Denis Lelin | Sofia Thomas | Josie Jessop 

Activities Officer | Community Officer | Sports Officer  

Emily Coleman | Abdi Ahmed

Welfare and Wellbeing Officer | Postgraduate Officer

***

Dear Minister of State for Universities and Secretary of State for Education,

We believe in better. And this is not good enough.

We are writing to express our fears, and to seek your immediate support and leadership, as the reality of this second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic takes a grip nationally, locally and within our university community.

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union is led by our membership, those 34,000 students of the University of Nottingham. Our mission statement is to believe in better, and we aim to be leaders for our student community in shaping an inspiring and rewarding student experience.

We have been in the (virtual) Board rooms with university colleagues since the pandemic began; supporting, scrutinising and creating solutions to the Covid challenge. We are inspired by and grateful for their ongoing efforts to provide a safe and equitable on-campus experience for our members and continue to work with them to find new solutions as the local situation worsens.

It is time to be honest, with ourselves, with the students and with you, the Government. It has not been possible to contain the infection within our national student communities, and it has not been possible to provide a student experience that meets the most basic of expectations. You said that you would “lead from the front”; you have advised and encouraged universities to reopen; but now you offer no support to our sector, and renege on the promise you made to provide clear and strong leadership.

This isn’t good enough.

Already, our members are telling us:

  • We are scared, with many of us more vulnerable than others to this dreadful virus 
  • Our mental health is suffering, with confinement, increased anxiety and deprivation of human contact, and with no way of knowing if we’ll see loved ones at key times this year
  • Our learning experience is severely compromised, with universities forced to prepare for the beginning of this academic year with insufficient support and a lack of timely and clear advice from Government
  • Our physical health is suffering, with households increasingly isolated and being confined to small rooms with no access to outdoor spaces, and recreational activities limited
  • We are being disproportionately and unfairly targeted for the enforcement of rules, compromising our civil liberties
  • We are unable to access and benefit from already stretched university support and resource
  • We are angry, with those who blame us for what we see as a predicted and avoidable scenario
  • We are concerned for our friends, peers and those staff who are supporting and teaching us, who are all experiencing this pandemic with their own burdens and challenges, and who we can see are straining to get through each day
  • We are being demonised by a Government seeking to blame others for their poor management of the pandemic, and a national press over-eager to find the negative stories wholly centered around students
  • We do not feel like we are receiving value for money. This issue sits with the Government, not our University which would cripple under such immense financial pressure should they be required to give refunds

And we know things are going to get worse.

It is clear that you have not acted as you should to avoid the terrible situation in which our students find themselves. This is evidently a national issue, and the solutions sit within the powers of the Government. We are asking for your help. 

We demand that you take strong and responsible leadership, to present an honest disposition of the extremely difficult situation that students across the UK are faced with. We ask that you acknowledge your role in the creation of this predicted and avoidable situation. And we strongly urge you to review national policy and provide a funding response aligned with NUS’ demands;

That students:

  • Be empowered to make their own choices; to remain on an online only course, to defer to a future year, or to leave their course entirely
  • Suffer no financial detriment, including in relation to private accommodation
  • Be treated fairly and proportionately as members of a civil society

Our Students’ Union will continue to support students to look after themselves and those around them. It is now time for the government to show what they plan to do to support students now and in the future. We hope to hear from you in regard to the demands above and what steps the Government will be taking.

Yours sincerely,

The Full-Time Officer Committee on behalf of the University of Nottingham Students’ Union

Madeleine Fox | Sam Hawkins | Becca Craven

Union Development Officer | Liberation Officer | Education Officer

Denis Lelin | Sofia Thomas | Josie Jessop

Activities Officer | Community Officer | Sports Officer

Emily Coleman | Abdi Ahmed

Welfare and Wellbeing Officer | Postgraduate Officer

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