22 Russell Group SU executives demand no detriment policy

The Russell Group has said safety net policies are not ‘necessary’ this year

22 Russell Group Students’ Unions, Associations, and Guilds are calling on Russell Group Vice-Chancellors to address the no detriment policy.

Last week, the Russell Group said it doesn’t think no detriment policies were “necessary” this year. The letter, signed today by SU executives at 22 Russell Group universities, urges the Russell Group to “take immediate action to address the challenges faced by our members”.

It calls on the Russell Group “to recognise that all students continue to be affected by the pandemic”, saying the circumstances that caused the no detriment policies to be created last year are still “impacting students, which is why mitigating policies are still necessary”.

“No student should be disadvantaged by the impacts of Covid-19,” the letter says.

It says: “In your statement to students, the ruling out of a safety net caused unnecessary anxiety the students who we represent, and it is our responsibility to address this”.

The letter asks for “universities to individually and clearly publish what mitigations they are putting in place for students” and says “one policy does not automatically address the needs of students and therefore any mitigations would have to benefit students no matter their level of study, and also cater for the needs of students from different marginalised backgrounds”.

It also asks for universities to “allow for students to self-certify for mitigating circumstances and remove the burden of proof from students”.

The SU executives say universities should use “best practice across the sector”, such as giving less weight to this academic year in classification calculations (such as York has done), or the removal of penalties for late submissions (similar to Leeds).

It says any policies should be co-developed with Student Officers and academic representatives.

York is the only Russell Group university that has confirmed it will offer safety net measures to students this year. Whilst Leeds Beckett, which is not in the Russell Group, became the first UK university to introduce a safety net policy. UEA, another non-Russell Group, announced it has launched a “No Detriment approach and Safety Net use” for this year.

King’s said its Students’ Union no detriment policy will be finalised next week.

But other universities, such as Southampton and Bristol, have rejected demands for safety nets this year.

The University of Durham and the University of Glasgow are the only Russell Group universities where SU executives did not sign the letter.

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