Move to a Pass/Fail grading system for USyd during COVID-19

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The students of the University of Sydney propose and demand that the University change the grading of all undergraduate courses being conducted online to a PASS/FAIL basis during this unprecedented crisis.

As a world-class University, we should embrace the necessary changes to our courses but also acknowledge that the academic rigour and integrity typically enjoyed by students has been compromised. The current system not only allows for the possibility of cheating; it maximises such risk.

Furthermore, with an unstable national broadband network that disproportionately disadvantages certain student demographics in more sparsely populated and regional areas, the University must ensure fairness is promoted to its fullest extent. This applies also to our International community, who are being asked to do their best work while using VPNs and lacking any face-to-face contact. It is well known that not all people are visual and auditory learners - the current reliance on Zoom and other technologies greatly undermines their ability to genuinely compete with all students.

We believe that the University would be best to follow the lead of Harvard, Stanford and Columbia as examples of the most prestigious and competitive institutions in the world, in adopting this approach. For students of those Universities, as of ours, the threat of poor or atypical grade performance is a real one for future job prospects. This should be the last worry in the minds of students who face the very real challenges of finding substitute employment, housing or even meals during this war-like period.

We further ask that this measure be announced before 31 March 2020, the time at which it will no longer be possible for students to make an informed choice regarding the continuation of their studies with such unnecessary pressure, without academic and financial penalties.