This student has created a campaign for a nationwide no detriment policy

‘I think the lack of support from the government is absolutely contemptible’

An Exeter third year has created a campaign urging the government to introduce a nationwide no detriment policy for students.

“So many people’s grades are at risk” with the announcement of a third lockdown, says Bella Enoizi, “as well as our entire futures”.

With A-level and GCSE exams now cancelled, uni students have been left wondering why not a peep has been said about how uni students – now forbidden from returning to campus until February – are meant to achieve as normal.

Determined to organise, Bella believes the lack of support on offer for students right now could have dire consequences and has launched a campaign, with a petition already reaching nearly 4,700 signatures.

“University exams determine the rest of our lives – our opportunities for further study, for grad jobs. If we don’t receive the support we deserve, and that we’re actually paying for, this has repercussions for years to come,” she told The Tab.

The Students for Academic Mitigation campaign has actually been going since November, but Bella’s petition exploded in the wake of the lockdown announcement, gaining nearly 4,000 signatures overnight.

After her contact hours were cut in half and her year abroad to Australia cancelled, Bella was left wondering how she could possibly analyse Chaucer and Dickens as well as she could have done without the pandemic, despite the best efforts of her lecturers to adapt.

“If the content is not being discussed in face-to-face time, are we expected to be able to teach ourselves to the same standard as experts in the field? That’s completely impossible, and is undeniably going to lead to impacted marks,” she says.

Illustrating the bind students are in, she also asks: “If we are capable of teaching ourselves that missed content to a good enough standard to achieve marks that we deserve, why are we paying the same as before?”

She wrote an open letter to Exeter Uni, which got 1,000 signatures and landed her a meeting with the uni’s Deputy Vice Chancellor – which she says didn’t really go anywhere. However, Bella is hopeful that students banding together nationally will push the issue beyond a single uni’s reluctance.

While unis are addressing calls for no detriment policies in their own ways – Bristol, for instance, says it is “discussing” a policy – Bella believes the government, or university regulators, should act to make sure all students are treated fairly.

“If we enter a job market on an unequal footing with students at universities who have received more support, that’s going to create such a mess,” she told The Tab.

Universities are constantly worrying about their reputations and their ability to attract students to pay rent and fees. To Bella, a reluctance to put no detriment policies is guided by this same concern. “The academic standards upon which unis’ reputations rest are only applicable in normal times – adjusting standards of assessment now does not jeopardise anybody’s reputation,” she argues. And, of course, how universities treat their students also forms a large part of a reputation now.

“I think the fact that these things aren’t being taken into account and that the universities are just sort of signing off and saying that it’s not their problem is not good enough,” she says.

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