Durham University, implement a no detriment policy for the academic year 2020/2021

Durham University, implement a no detriment policy for the academic year 2020/2021

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Joe McGarry started this petition to Durham University

*This petition is based on the previous successful petition submitted here on 26/03/2020 by Jack Filer*

Student morale is at an all-time low. The COVID19 pandemic has affected every student at Durham, and the effects of repeated prolonged isolation, uncertainty and disruption have culminated in a student mental health crisis. Gym closures, lack of sports and societies, and restricted access to facilities such as books, study space and a stable and productive working environment have compounded this. Access to face-to-face student support has also been limited.

Notwithstanding the response from Durham University, the pandemic has also affected our academic experience, and ultimately, our collective academic performance. Although considerable effort has been made to maintain teaching provisions throughout this academic year, learning has been disrupted for a number of reasons; many students do not have access to an adequate learning space, to a desk, a chair, a quiet individual room in which to study, stable Wi-Fi and access to technology.

Online learning cannot act as a substitute for practical experience; Durham’s outstanding academic reputation is largely based on unique provisions for hands on experience, which just can’t happen this year. This means the learning experience has been worse this year than in previous years here.

The lack of quality learning spaces has disproportionately affected estranged students and students from lower income backgrounds, and the university should fulfil a responsibility to better protect these students, especially in light of the recent reports in the national news about the lack of diversity and social inclusion in Durham.

In a normal year, if any student had experienced the stress and lack of social connection which has been collectively imposed by the pandemic, they would be considered for academic mitigation through an SAC form at the very least. Last year, the no detriment policy gave students confidence that their degree was not hanging in the balance, and this lack of pressure led to many of them improving on their previous grades. This year has undoubtedly been more disrupted than last year.

We propose that the university adopts a “no detriment” policy, meaning:

·         An unexpected low grade this year cannot reduce any student’s degree classification.

·         Only summative assignments can count towards a student’s degree (so a degree can’t be awarded solely on the basis of someone’s first year).

This would mean:

·         For current 4th years (integrated masters) the university would discount  academic years 2020/21 and/or 2019/20, unless these grades would improve their overall degree classification.

·         For current 3rd years their degree will be based off either this academic year, or academic year 2019/2020, whichever they performed best in.

·         For current 2nd years, this year will be discounted unless it would improve their overall degree classification.

·         For current 1st years, this would have no effect on their degree classification as this year would still be formative, although the university will have to acknowledge the disruption this year has caused, especially for predictive purposes.

We acknowledge that this year has been exceptionally hard for all members of the Durham community, including teaching staff, and understand that they have done their best to provide academically for students in incredibly difficult circumstances. Through no fault of theirs, the quality of learning and the quality of student life has decreased, and the only way the university can mitigate this is to have a no detriment policy. Despite everyone’s best efforts this year has been significantly more disrupted than last year, and this should be reflected by a decision from Durham University to continue the no detriment policy.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!