Covid: USW “recognises student concern” but does not plan to implement a no detriment policy

By Danielle Herbert

Originally published on Dragon Media

The University of South Wales says it does not plan to compensate students who obtain lower grades this year despite claims that the standard of work is suffering because of the pandemic.

The news comes after more than 500 people have signed the online petition in favour of the policy.

Why does USW not have a no detriment policy?

In a statement released to students, USW said: “We want you to be fully supported with your studies during your time at USW, so that you can progress and achieve your full potential.

“This remains a dynamic situation and we recognise that the pandemic impacts people in different ways. We also understand the queries that university students across the UK have about ‘no-detriment’ or ‘safety net’ policies. Therefore, we want to set out what USW is doing to ensure that you are not unfairly disadvantaged by the impacts of Covid-19.

University of South Wales Atrium Campus.

“We also want to reassure you that our overall approach will be a comprehensive one. The measures already in place are outlined below and further discussions are taking place with faculties, departments, and student representatives, to safeguard student achievements from the impacts of the pandemic and the quality and integrity of USW awards.”

The university claim that they have adapted the learning, teaching and assessment methods in the move toward online learning this academic year, arguing students can continue to learn from wherever they are.

Who started the online petition?

Policing student Dan Barrington from the University of South Wales, who started the petition, said: “Someone had to start the conversation.

“University students are struggling and something needs to be done about it.

“I watched the news a lot so I was aware the conversation was happening amongst other universities, so I thought it was important for my own university.”

Dan Barrington from the University of South Wales.

Speaking on the challenge of online learning, the 19-year-old said: “It has been a lot harder to make friends this year.

“Last year you could work with different people and revise together but you can’t really do that anymore.

“At the start of the year I found myself stuck on an assignment so emailed my lecturer for some guidance, so he referred me to the lesson slides.

“I had to explain to him that I struggle to learn that way and needed more assistance, which I’m sure is an issue other students are having.”

What is a no detriment policy?

A ‘no detriment’ policy acts as a safety net to ensure students obtain at least their average grade. This means that the grade students currently have is the lowest they can achieve.

Back in March, a no-detriment policy was put in place across universities for the academic year (2019/2020) due to the sudden impact of coronavirus on students and their studies.
Students across the UK have been campaigning for the policy to be reinstated this academic year.

Extenuating Circumstances

Students can also apply for extenuating circumstances and specifically for disruption as a result of the pandemic. This could include requesting an extension of up to 14 days or requesting to defer an assessment until the next assessment window or the next academic year, depending upon the type of assessment. There is no limit to the number of times you can self-certify for Covid-19-related issues.

Advice Zone

If you require an extension, help or guidance from the university then contact the Advice Zone.
Who to contact if you or someone you know needs help:

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org
  • Papyrus offer support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to pat@papyrus-uk.org
  • Rethink Mental Illness offer practical advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems on a wide range of topics including treatment, support and care. Phone 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm) or visit rethink.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably’s (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, it’s free, anonymous and confidential.

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