Our response to lockdown
Throughout the year, we've been working to ensure that you can have the best student experience possible despite the effects of lockdown and COVID-19. Because of that, in January we made this statement which you can read in full if you click here.. This is what we're asking for:
What we are asking from the University
- A clear, and timely published no detriment policy that accurately reflects the turmoil faced by students this year.
- Changes to the current Extenuating Circumstances policy that ensure students know whether they are approved before an exam.
- Introduce a policy that requires all teaching be made available online, and a quality assurance of these recordings.
- Implement a no penalty contract-break for students who will not return to campus alongside the option to defer a contract until in-person teaching resumes.
- An increase in the University Hardship Fund to ensure no student is left struggling.
- The VC to hold a Q+ A with students directly addressing their concerns.
- A statement of support from the University showing their solidarity with SMSU in their requests to the Government
What we are asking for from the UK Government
- To work with universities in reimbursing student rent for accommodation not used during the 20/21 academic year.
- For the Government to reduce tuition fees for the 20/21 academic year.
What we've done so far - 19 February
- Sent parliament petitions that talks about all student fees, not just those paying home fees.
- Attended meetings with the University to work together to ensure policies are in place to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 of students’ grades/degrees.
- Spoken with senior management to clarify when rebates were released to students living in University-owned accommodation and what they consist of. You can find details of the rebates that are being offered here. We are still holding discussions with Senior Management to see how they might be able to improve on this offer for students who are still unable to return to halls.
- Ensured this Accommodation FAQ was clear and easy to understand.
- Met with Student Services to work on making some of their resources more easily accessible to students.
- Met with specific students who feel they have been impacted by COVID-19 during the exam period. Followed up by meeting with relevant lecturers to discuss how these impacts are mitigated.
- The Q&A with the VC will be coming to you soon!
- Additional meetings to discuss how we can ensure no detriment for students. The proposal (now called the COVID Mitigation Package) was approved by the Academic Development Committee on 27th January, and by the Academic Board on 10th February. This Mitigation package has been confirmed and has been sent out to all students (FAQ’s are on SIMMSpace and Niamh will be recording videos explaining this package)
- The University has acknowledged there is an issue surrounding EC's in the current COVID-19 Pandemic, and changes to the current policy were accepted by the Academic Board on 10th February inline with the COVID Mitigation Package.
- We have been in constant conversation with senior management keeping the accommodation refund conversation going – we are applying pressuring for them to change their stance.
- More funding has now been made available to the Hardship Fund for both UK and international students. The University's Hardship fund for international students and UK Postgraduate students is open until the 12th Feb and is available here. The University's Hardship fund for UK students is also still available here.
- St Mary's has been awarded additional funds from the Office for Students (OFS) to support those who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the pandemic - Read more and put in your application here
If you’d like more information on the Hardship Fund, you can contact the Student Funding Service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8240 2389/4386
How you can get involved
If you read our statement in full you'll be able to find more detail, but the list below gives some actions:
- Sign petitions from the statement
- Write to your local MP using this template letter
- Continue to lobby for change via social media. You can make a difference! Make sure you tag us - you'll find our social media accounts linked at the bottom of this page.
- Speak to us about the struggles you are facing so we can continue to advocate on your behalf. You can find the Officer Team's contact details here.