Update on USSU’s response to COVID-19 & next steps: complete our survey about your experiences
We understand that these are difficult times and as your student officer team we are committed to supporting you through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want to give you an update on what we have been working on, and what will be coming next.
What have we done?
We have continued to work proactively with the University to ensure that your interests are at the centre of any decision making. We want to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us, and we’d like to acknowledge the support the University has given to students over the past few months, continuing online learning where possible, offering alternative assessments, extending the PMC regulations and introducing the safety net.
These decisions have allowed the vast majority of students to continue to access the education they are entitled to, albeit in unexpected and less-than-ideal ways. We will continue to be part of these conversations so that your views are always represented when important decisions are made.
In terms of next steps, while the interventions we have worked with the university to put in place have helped to ease concerns for lots of people, this isn’t the case for everyone. Realistically, it was never going to be. As a result, the things students are asking for are different depending on their context.
Some students are calling for tuition fee refunds to compensate for missed teaching, or for other negative outcomes. Others don’t want a refund, just the opportunity to access experiences that they may otherwise miss out on, like displaying work in their degree show, attending graduation or completing a work placement. For some, such as students with caring responsibilities, their home situation means that for however long this goes on, there is no safety net that can truly catch them – a PMC won’t help if their kids are still at home when the next deadline rolls around. For others, the safety net being in place is all they needed to feel supported by the university.
Clearly, everyone is affected differently, the situation is complex, and a blanket position on fees, refunds, or any other ask of the university would only benefit some students and not others. For this reason, we are not going to take a blanket position, but are instead committing to working with you to identify how we can get the best outcomes for you. It might be more work, but there are no simple solutions to a complex situation, so we think it’s the right thing to do.
What do we know already?
From the feedback we’ve already had, it’s clear that there are patterns in terms of what students are asking for, and in these cases, we will be taking the following action:
- Alongside other Students’ Unions, we will support the campaign which asks for any nursing students who have been ‘fast-tracked’ to employment, to have the student debt they have incurred throughout their studies cancelled.
- We have, and will continue, to lobby the University to provide better support and lasting provision to students who study on practical courses, as they have been unable to access onsite facilities which are essential to their degree.
- For those students who have paid their fees up front, i.e. international and self-funding students, we will campaign for partial reimbursements of fees for semester 2.
- We have, and will continue, to lobby the University to provide greater support for international students, in relation to the financial costs and process of applying for extensions to VISAs that have occurred as a result of incomplete academic study.
As we start to move forward, we will continue working in partnership with the University to support you as we come to the end of this academic year and start the next one in September. We will be doing this by ensuring that:
- Our advice centre supports students with individual needs, including complaints where necessary, to take these forwards through the University complaints channel.
- The welfare services that are provided for by the University continue to be accessible remotely
- Teaching is carried out to the best possible standards online
- All staff receive the training and support required to deliver digital teaching provision, across all academic schools
- Students have the appropriate equipment to access their academic courses online
What next? Complete our survey
The safety net has a lifespan. While it will help thousands of students who would otherwise have had their grades impacted, the university has committed to using the time now available to make sure that teaching can go ahead next academic year without the need for a safety net. That means teaching provision and access to resources online that is at least as good as the provision that would be available in person.
It’s our job to ensure that they’re held to that standard. To do that, we need to know as much as we can about your experiences, good or bad, so that we can be clear what your expectations are for excellent teaching next term.
We have launched a survey that helps us to capture some of this. Please take some time today to fill this out, and then share with other Salford students. There are prizes up for grabs, but most of all, it will help us to make sure that we know what you want from your university experience next year, so that we can hold the university to the right standards.
What if I have an issue to resolve now?
As always, we encourage any student who feels they have experienced a significant disruption to their studies to follow the relevant feedback channels: through your Course Representative, Course Leader and/or by directly contacting the Elected Officer for your academic school. You can also contact the Advice Centre at the Students’ Union who can offer support in liaising with your programme team and, if necessary, raising an issue through the University’s Complaints Procedure.
We continue to ask you to be kind, support your community and if you need anything, please do contact us.
Your Sabbatical Officer Team 2019/20