No detriment policies aren’t ‘necessary’ this year, says the Russell Group

Oh no sweetie

The Russell Group has said it doesn’t think no detriment policies are necessary or appropriate this year.

Instead, it said it believes that individual unis have taken enough steps to ensure students get fair grades, it said this afternoon in a joint statement by its 24 universities.

However, York – a member of the Russell Group – said yesterday it would be implementing a safety net for its students.

Students have been calling for the policies to return after the announcement of lockdown 3.0 this week, which saw most barred from returning to campus for face-to-face teaching.

Petitions at Glasgow, King’s, and Bristol have reached over 2,000 signatures apiece.

However, the Russell Group believes the approach from last year is not needed.

“Our universities are confident that the steps taken this year will ensure all students are given a fair grade. We therefore do not consider that using the same algorithmic approach to provide individual ‘no detriment’ or ‘safety net’ policies, which were introduced by some institutions as an emergency measure at the end of the last academic year, is necessary or appropriate this year,” it said in the statement.

“Indeed, in many cases the use of such algorithms would not be possible given the scarcity of pre-pandemic benchmarking data available for many students.”

It did leave the door open for individual universities to make some adjustments, however, saying: “We will continue to work to mitigate the impact of the pandemic this year, ensuring students are treated fairly with respect to past and future cohorts. We will also of course be taking their individual circumstances into account – in line with current approaches taken in all our universities, but with an enhanced focus on the COVID impacts.

“Such measures are being tailored by universities to their particular structures and assessment systems, but examples include dedicated and streamlined processes for students requesting deadline extensions or Special Consideration/Extenuating Circumstances and removing requirements for written supporting evidence. Exam Boards will also ensure that all students, as individuals and as a cohort, receive fair outcomes that are comparable with those in previous years.”

Outside of the Russell Group, Leeds Beckett became the first UK university to introduce a safety net, while unis including Lancaster and Bristol are understood to be discussing reviving the policy.

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