Re-introduce the safety net policy at the University of Sheffield for the year 2020-2021

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*This petition is adapted from similar petitions circling other universities*

As per government guidance, students are being encouraged to still attend university. We are paying FULL FEES for a compromised education (100% online)

Despite the majority of the country having now been placed under Tier 4 restrictions and after a second national lockdown this year, the government has still advised that university students return to their education after the Christmas break.

From early October until the start of our Christmas break, students had already experienced another strike that had effected the small amount of teaching time we were still able to receive. With this, came the reduced amount of resources that were provided to us, including reduced hours and capacity in the library. Although we understand that measures have to be taken for the safety of the students, we have been left with little option and most students now having to study at home. 

The mental health of students is a topic I find overlooked by many universities and we often feel neglected by the extreme expectations of completing our assessments, essentially by ourselves. The Christmas break has left students studying, revising for exams and searching for a work life balance that we just simply cannot find. Without reassurances from our university as well as the lack of proper teaching and support, the mental health of our students is suffering.

This alone is enough to effect the performance of a student, but it doesn’t stop there. There are students that for the last month have spent the majority of their time in a bedroom, in the same environment day in day out, forcing themselves to get their work done. The library is a place that for most students brings formality, an environment that provides a suitable space for them to study. Some student’s home environments may be unsuitable to study or complete exams, (such as noise and being confined to a small working space), which will not allow students to work to their full potential.

The workload and expectations for this academic year, despite the strikes and Coronavirus pandemic have remained the same. And although the teaching that has been provided so far has been greatly appreciated, it is simply not enough for a student to feel confident in their studies. Last year, the University of Sheffield introduced a no detriment scheme to alleviate the worries and pressure students had felt from the newly online teaching. Almost a year into the Coronavirus pandemic, students have been expected to carry out this entire academic year, mostly online. But as of yet, the university has failed to offer any sort of mitigation system as they previously did for students in 2019-2020. 

Students are grateful for the teaching that they have already received and we are aware of the hard work that has gone into the planning of online lectures and seminars. For that reason, this petition does not discredit the actions the university has already taken, nor is it directed at individual lecturers or members of staff. Whilst we understand that this is more the fault of the governments than anyone else’s, we are urging our university to act and help us in whatever ways they can.  

Therefore, we are asking the University of Sheffield to reintroduce the safety net policy for the students of 2020-2021, in order to bring fairer results for both undergraduates and postgraduates.