Establish a “Safety Net” Policy for Students at the Universities in Amsterdam (VU and UvA)

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Lotte and Tara
Lotte and Tara signed this petition

The “Safety Net” policy, also known as the “No Detriment” policy, means that any assessment or exam taken during the COVID-19 period, specifically after the lockdown on March 13th, 2020, will not negatively affect the student academic performance, i.e., all courses should allow students to choose whether they want a pass/fail (which will not affect the average grade of a student), or their actual grade.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the government have affected everyone. In this petition, we are focusing on the heavy effect of the outbreak on all students, who still have to perform under immense stress and different circumstances. Closing the universities has interrupted students’ study habits, especially those that are dependent on university facilities such as the library, computer rooms, or laboratories.

Since the university stopped all in-person operations on March 13th, a large proportion of students are facing difficulties, such as:

  • Lack of a suitable study environment – some students have no proper workspace, no laptop, and poor or no internet connection.
  • Mental health – students might experience stress, anxiety, and isolation. Furthermore, some students have the responsibility of taking care of sick family members.
  • Uncertainty / High workload – some students do still not know when, how, or in what format their exams will take place, causing stress and inability to prepare sufficiently. Moreover, due to COVID-19, exams of the previous period had to be rescheduled to later periods, meaning that students will now face double course work and exam preparation. 
  • Financial stress – students might have lost their income from part-time jobs, causing stress and anxiety because they might not be able to pay rent as well as other expenses.
  • Scholarship issues – students might experience pressure due to having to keep up their grade point average (GPA) needed for their scholarship.
  • Time-zone issues – (international) students living in other time-zones face time management issues, as they might need to take exams or attend lectures/tutorials at different times than they are used to.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, which means the rulebook has to be rewritten – there’s no use pretending that this year’s assessment period has not been irreversibly compromised by the recent events. We’re aware that the conditions are difficult for everyone; however, we would like to remind you our degrees will stay with us until the rest of our lives. The reality is that the situation that students find themselves in has no comparison with any other academic year.

For this reason, we believe it is reasonable to ask the universities in Amsterdam to consider the impact that these extraordinary measures have on students, both in terms of their academic performance but also the toll it is taking on their mental health during this difficult time.

With the above-mentioned difficulties in mind, we are urging Vrije University Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam to implement the “Safety Net” policy in a similar manner to those being deployed across many other universities (such as Implementation "No Detriment" policy in the University of Kent). Implementing such a “Safety Net” would ensure that "no student is disadvantaged" and that each student is given an opportunity to live up to their potential.

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