Image: The Boar / Nick Alford

Warwick students petition for reintroduction of safety net

A petition has been launched by Warwick’s liberation societies, calling for the implementation of a safety net policy after it was announced one would not be included in the University’s ‘Mitigation Package of Education Measures’. 

The petition expresses dissatisfaction over the policy announced by the University on 12 January, calling it “wholly inadequate” and fails to take into account the “significant detriment faced by students this academic year”.

The University had also previously confirmed that the Library would be remaining open, but yesterday’s measures came with the announcement that the Library will be closing from 13 January. The Rootes Learning Grid and Postgraduate Hub are set to remain open. 

“We call upon the university to reintroduce, as a minimum, the safety net provided by the graduation benchmark that was available to students in the 2019/20 academic year,” the petition said. 

“There is now an opportunity for the university to become a leader for all the right reasons, demonstrating that this is a university that sees students not merely as cash cows, but also humans, by acknowledging the impact of the pandemic upon us all and be the first of the Russell Group to implement a robust and adequate safety net.” 

The petition says that as all teaching has been moved online until at least February, students have been disadvantaged in numerous ways, due to “issues related to lack of quiet study space, insufficient internet connections, disability/long-term health conditions and a general impact on overall student wellbeing due to the isolation online learning can cause”. 

It is completely illogical and unfair to offer only the inadequate measures that have so far been announced when students still need a real safety net as much, if not more than, they did last year

– Petition by Warwick’s liberation societies

“Full safety net measures were implemented for the last academic year. We are working under just the same conditions (a national lockdown), as well as experiencing the burnout and fatigue of almost a year living with Covid and the associated safety measures,” the petition continued. 

“It is completely illogical and unfair to offer only the inadequate measures that have so far been announced when students still need a real safety net as much, if not more than, they did last year.”

The petition has provided three suggestions for a new safety net, which include “this year’s grade is calculated from only the top 50% scoring CATS”; “your highest grade from a qualifying year becomes your final grade” or “your final grade cannot be below the score achieved in the 2019/20 academic year”. 

In Term 3 of the 2019/2020 academic year, the University confirmed that intermediate and final-year students would not be adversely affected by the move to online assessments. Students were guaranteed that their final academic year average would be “the same as or higher than the average you have attained so far”. 

However, the Russell Group, which Warwick is a part of, said there would be no need for a safety net policy this academic year. 

Yesterday, Students’ Union (SU) Education Officer, Megan Clarke said the SU were told a new safety net policy could not be implemented as “students do not have enough pre-COVID grades to base an algorithm on”. 

The challenge this year is that this lockdown has come a full academic  term earlier than in the one in mid March 2020 in the last academic year, meaning that many students simply do not yet have enough marks in 2020/21 to benchmark their performance or create an algorithm that would use such marks

– University of Warwick

In a Facebook post, President of Warwick SU Luke Mempham urged students to submit mitigating circumstances “if you feel that your education and studies have been impacted in any way whatsoever by COVID”. 

A spokesperson for the University said: “The challenge this year is that this lockdown has come a full academic  term earlier than in the one in mid March 2020 in the last academic year, meaning that many students simply do not yet have enough marks in 2020/21 to benchmark their performance or create an algorithm that would use such marks.

“However the University is well prepared to deal with this, having worked very closely with our own Students’ Union to develop a Covid Mitigation Package of Education Measures for 2020/21.

“In regard to the Library we are continually assessing building opening and service provision on campus during the current lockdown in England, to meet our ongoing commitment to maintaining the safety and wellbeing of staff and students, whilst also ensuring that we can continue to provide as full a service as possible in these difficult circumstances and the library is now moving to a mediated service.

“We have re-introduced a Click and Collect service. This sits alongside the current Scan and Deliver and Postal Loans/Returns functions to provide for those were resources are not available online. The free Postal Loans service will be extended temporarily to all our UK-based students and staff.

“Online access to resources and services, including enquiries and support, will continue unchanged. Study spaces are available in Rootes Grid, the BioMed Grid and the PG Hub.”

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