Meet the Cardiff student who’s demanding a ‘safety net’ for Cardiff Uni summer grades

She has created a petition to get the University’s attention

A Cardiff University student, Sarah Walmsley has set up a petition calling for Cardiff University to adopt a policy of ‘no detriment’ to safeguard student grades, in light of the current remote teaching situation and global health crisis.

With teaching at UK universities being hit hard this term, both by industrial action and the Covid-19 pandemic, some students have lost up to 75 per cent of their face-to-face contact hours.

Fourth-year Physics with Astronomy student, Sarah has called on Cardiff students to sign the petition in order to safeguard their grades and said this policy “is simply the most empathetic and ethical response for universities to propose during this crisis.”

The ‘no detriment’ policy is currently in place at Exeter University and the University of Southhampton and it provides students with a ‘safety net’, ensuring that their current average grade would not go down as a result of assessments completed during the coronavirus pandemic. So far, Sarah’s petition currently has over 2,700 signatures and we wanted to find out what she hopes the petition will achieve.

Why did you start the petition?

“A ‘safety net’ or ‘no detriment’ policy is crucial for the wellbeing of students during this time. The coronavirus pandemic has already proved to be incredibly far-reaching and disruptive in such a short length of time; this will only intensify as we approach exam season. We must pre-empt the effects of the pandemic intensifying by allowing students to balance their studying and families. I believe this is simply the most empathetic and ethical response for universities to propose during this crisis.”

What does the petition mean to you?

“I already have friends and family members who have caught the virus. I call my family every day, but of course, this distracts from the amount of work that I would normally put in during a typical revision season. I also speak most days to my friends from home and university. I can see the stresses brought on that many of my peers don’t normally have to consider at university. Especially with some homes which can be unstable, being in quarantine there, with responsibilities for younger siblings, family members who may be ill, or even domestic abuse situations, we cannot treat this as a normal working environment for students.”

What do you hope the uni will do in response to this petition?

“Introduce a blanket ‘no detriment’ policy for all schools, and all courses. This is truly unprecedented; I do certainly appreciate how wonderful all Cardiff University staff are for trying to bring forward effective policies which support students to be able to achieve their deserved grades. However, this measure is what I believe to be the most effective.”

How will this impact Cardiff uni students?

“All students would still work their best to achieve the grade they deserve. With this measure, students wouldn’t become as stressed trying to revise whilst potentially caring for family members, and their own mental health at the same time. It would also allow for students to be supported during such a long term crisis, whereas typically extenuating circumstances cases involve a single event over a shorter period of time.”

Those graduating are perhaps most worried about the effect the pandemic will have

The Cardiff Tab contacted Cardiff University regarding their stance on implementing a policy of ‘no-detriment’. A spokesperson said:

“We recognise the concern of our students and are seeking to do everything possible to support them during these extremely difficult and unprecedented times. The principle that no student should be disadvantaged in terms of their achievement as a result of the crisis is an important one. We will be producing further guidance shortly but we can assure our students that we will be implementing a no-detriment approach.”

You can sign the petition here.

Have you been directly affected by coronavirus? Email tips to [email protected] 

If you suspect you have coronavirus, you should phone NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or 111 for advice. 

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