Safety net policy to be implemented at the University of Sheffield

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

The coronavirus has affected every student at the University of Sheffield. All classes are now online meaning students are missing out on being taught to the usual standard and many have missed out on essential practical workshops for their courses. This is on top of many classes being missed due to strikes in term 1 and term 2. Now all university buildings have closed, students can not access library books or other essential learning facilities. Many students mental health will be extremely negatively impacted by the pandemic, many will have to work in unsuitable environments that will not allow them to work to their full potential, and many will be hindered by coronavirus directly affecting them or their loved ones. Thus far, the university has not done enough to support its students, with many being told their assessments will be carried about in the same way despite the lack of proper teaching or support. 


We are asking the University of Sheffield to introduce a mitigation system similar to the one introduced by the University of Exeter in order to bring fairer results for 2nd/3rd year undergraduates and postgraduate students. At 9.40 AM on 25/03/2020, the University of Exeter announced that student assessment would be mitigated through a "safety net" policy. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor wrote that:


"Our commitment to your success


"Given the exceptional circumstances in which you are sitting these examinations and other assessments, we have decided to introduce a ‘safety net’ policy.


"This ‘no-detriment’ approach is as follows: so long as you would qualify to progress/graduate based on your marks obtained this year (including those in the summer assessment period), then we will ensure that your final academic year average is the same as, or higher than, the average you have attained up to Sunday 15th March. Details about how your average to 15th March will be calculated will be provided in the FAQs on our website by the end of Friday 27th March.


"If you achieve higher marks in assessments submitted and examinations undertaken after Sunday 15th March then you will be able to raise your mark for the year. To repeat, as long as you qualify to pass the year, completing the summer assessments can only help not hinder you because we will not let the extraordinary circumstances in which you are completing these assessments leave you with a mark below your current overall mark."


Considering the exceptional and unexpected circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, this type of mitigating system will help to create more equal results for students being assessed at the University. This is because it allows students to achieve a grade which reflects their work under ordinary circumstances, whilst providing an incentive to do well in summer assessments and still giving students who did not achieve their desired grades last term a chance to improve.


It is about time our University did something to protect the welfare of their student body. This year has been rife with difficulties and it is not fair for assessment changes, communicated via email (in some cases, less than a month before the exams are to be sat) to determine our futures. A safety net would alleviate so much pressure and allow us all to focus on what is actually important in our education; learning and bettering ourselves. 


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