By Joshua Hurn
The distinguished ‘Russell Group’ of research-led British universities, including Durham, have confirmed they will not be offering a “no detriment” policy or other safety nets to students affected by the COVID crisis.
This means over 446,000 students, including those in Durham, will not be able to secure the same academic result guarantees seen in 2020.
The statement was released days after Boris Johnson confirmed all in-person teaching except for key subjects such as dentistry will be suspended until at least mid-February. The Russell Group described the measures put in place for the 2020 period as “emergency measures” which would not be “appropriate” for the current academic year.
The ‘safety net’ policy in place in 2020 meant academic examinations taken after April 1st could only improve the overall outcomes of students’ degrees. This was put in place after a petition reached over 3,500 signatures demanding the implementation of such policies as seen in other universities.
The statement went on to say that the group would “continue to work in partnership with our students to review our approach to mitigation measures” and that any updates would be as “compassionate and empathetic as they can be”.
The statement also sought to explain why such action has been taken this year. The lack of “pre-pandemic benchmarking data” for most students would render any such algorithms of grading useless as they may not reflect the realistic attainment of students. The need to “protect academic standards and the integrity of our degrees” is also cited as a major cause of the move.
The statement did seek to reaffirm a commitment to helping students particularly impacted by the new lockdown. “We will also of course be taking their individual circumstances into account”. Additionally, it confirmed that it would be easier to seek help where needed. Written evidence needed to support SAC forms and deadline extensions will not be waived for the rest of the year.
Leeds Beckett University was the first in the U.K. to confirm a continued implementation of a safety net policy for their students this year. No other universities have so far confirmed the adoption of the same approach. Around 70% introduced such measures last year, with far fewer expected to do the same following this announcement.
Image: Beatrice Law