An update following the University safety net statement


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University of Nottingham Students’ Union members,

On Friday, the University of Nottingham informed students of its 2021 ‘Safety Net’ in its statement “The 2021 ‘safety net’: ensuring fairness and support for all students during January assessments”.

We, your officers, do not support this and are disappointed with this outcome.

The statement follows the lead given by The Russell Group in their statement, circulated on Thursday evening, “ensuring fair assessment and protecting the integrity of degrees”.

In this The Russell Group clearly state that:

“Our Universities are confident that the steps taken this year will ensure all students are given a fair grade. We therefore do not consider that using the same algorithmic approach to provide individual ‘no detriment’ or ‘safety net’ policies, which were introduced by some institutions as an emergency measure at the end of the last academic year, is necessary or appropriate this year.”

We have co-signed a letter alongside other Russel Group Students’ Unions in response and since then there has been a reply from The Russell Group, which is available here.

The decisions made in the statement from the University of Nottingham are disappointing, yet this will not deter us from continuing to work for our students. We will continue to amplify your voice in meetings and conversations we have with the University, informing them how our members, both students and researchers alike, are being disadvantaged by the pandemic; including limited access to resources, less than ideal working conditions, concerns about mental health and welfare, as well as the anxiety caused by constantly changing restrictions.

We will work to improve the support for our members by doing the following;

  • Asking for the Extenuating Circumstances procedure to be reviewed after students have highlighted how difficult it can be to access and the length of time taken for decisions to be made
  • Pushing for students to have the opportunity to have a free first sit of assessments should they so wish for those taken in the 20/21 academic year that would not override the existing mark should the new mark be lower
  • Asking for clarity on how summer assessments are done and what they include – based on how learning is delivered in Semester 2 following the end of the current lockdown and the potential restrictions in place
  • The Education and Postgraduate Officers will be writing to all Heads of Schools this week urging them to make considerations for students during the current assessment period
  • Asking for considerations as to what resources will be accepted due to the limited access to libraries etc, and pushing for more online resources to be available
  • Pushing for more services to be available to support students with any wellbeing and welfare concerns
  • Working with NUS and other Officers at Students’ Unions, Guilds and Associations to actively put pressure on the sector to implement measures that better support students during their studies
  • Ensuring that there is support implemented for all our students across all courses and levels of study
  • Writing to the Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) that are present at the University of Nottingham, asking them to consider their requirements for students in light of the pandemic and the ongoing restrictions. This is to support those students who have highlighted to us that meeting the needs of these regulatory bodies has been made more difficult due to the impacts of COVID-19

These are our immediate actions going forward, but we will continue to keep putting ideas to the University and we welcome feedback on what we have done so far and what can be done in the future, that we can also take forward on your behalf.

We all know that students will feel as frustrated by these decisions as we do. We want to highlight that this stance from the University doesn’t mean that we’ll be accepting the current measures, it doesn’t mean that we’ll stop working and fighting for our members.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Useful links

Extenuating Circumstances form – Remember if you haven’t heard about your claim before the deadline date to submit whatever work you have done (this does not have to be a finished piece of work – just what you have been able to do up to the deadline). Forms can also be put in for anyone who is ill during an online exam.

SU Advice - our dedicated SU Education Advisors can offer impartial guidance on any academic concerns you may have.

APPG for Students Covid Inquiry – Fill in your responses to this survey (ending on Monday 18 January) to give your experiences during COVID to the APPG for Students, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers who are investigating the impact of the pandemic on students’ tuition and accommodation and the case for compensation.

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