Every university should be implementing a no detriment policy this term, no questions asked

What’s the point in withholding this safety net? I just don’t get it

University students have been bullied by our senior leaders and government. We have been neglected and vilified ever since the start of the pandemic. For months, we have endured the silence of our Vice Chancellors as we’re neglected by Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock on the national news, continuously thrown under the bus and ignored by our government. We’ve spent too long convincing ourselves that we will soon be supported or even simply acknowledged. It’s clear this isn’t going to happen. A lot of us are beyond breaking point – we are exhausted.

Despite months of suffering, online classes, uncertainty, rapid testing programmes and being stripped of our youth, we are still faced with the expectation to produce the same quality of work as pre-Covid. How can we solve this? Simple: if our universities employed a no detriment policy, our anxiety would ease. Not employing this policy is evil. Senior leaders and the government have seen the number of student deaths since the beginning of the first term. For months, students have been isolated and alone, facing overwhelming academic stress and the strife caused by the pandemic in general. Students are on their knees and it’s time our universities did something about it.

Back in March, when the pandemic first broke out, students were told to return home and familiarise themselves with a new kind of uni. “Remote learning”. It’s something that we didn’t take lightly but we were granted the no detriment policy due to mitigating circumstances. What has changed between March and now? Apart from tens of thousands of more deaths, multiple student suicides, a lateral testing programme for students that was reportedly not accurate and so much more? Why are we not being protected? How much louder do we have to be?

Every student is facing mental and physical exhaustion, academic burn out is hitting and at the same time we have cripplingly poor mental health. We obeyed the governments testing programme, we changed our train tickets to fit the travel window, we signed our universities pledges and sat through countless Zoom lectures. Our reward for this is simply… paying nine grand and hoping it’s a 2:2 and not a third on that most recent assignment. How about our senior leaders sign a pledge to start protecting and putting us first? I am sick and tired of being pushed around from pillar to post by officials who pocket huge salaries and don’t even know what it’s like being a student now. It’s insulting.

Lecturers and staff are the only people who truly understand our frustrations. Many of them even share our anxieties. Those who are in the classroom with us, virtually or physically, see the impact it’s having on our mental health. We aren’t angry at them, they’re being shown the same amount of non-existent support as us. The government and university management are the reason why we are feeling this way. Those are people who do not have our best interests at heart, they are the reason why our loathing for higher education is rapidly growing.

We know that we cannot rely on the government, they proved that to us recently as their lateral test programme missed students with Covid and gave them a negative result. When they locked down the country after kids spent one (one!) day at primary school, just in time to transmit any virus they had or bring it home. When they U-turned on A-Levels. When they brought us back in September then scrambled to deal with the mess that followed. Students do not deserve to be a second thought. Whilst we aren’t the demographic who has been hit hardest, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been hit. Universities continue to take our money for tuition fees and rent but they’re not easing our anxiety by delaying deadlines, cancelling exams or providing safety nets. Nothing. Where is the fairness in that? What do they have to lose? Seriously, someone tell me because I am not getting it.

Back in March I felt so bad for students who were forced out of University early and had their final year cut short. Now, that pity has turned into jealousy. I want out. These next six months are looking like absolute hell. The diabolical treatment of the government is vile, the one thing I am taking away from my university experience is the burning hatred I have for higher education.

If you are a struggling student, remember that even though we are unappreciated, undervalued and overlooked by our universities – we are in this together. The majority of us feel the same. What our senior leaders are doing is evil and they take us for granted. It’s not unrealistic or unfair of us to want to be acknowledged and supported – those are basic needs. It’s time our senior leaders and managers started leading us properly. They need to listen to our worries and frustrations rather than ignore them. Start petitions, sign them, share them, speak up and don’t stop until they’re listening. We will not go down without a fight.

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