The no-detriment policy will not apply to some first and second year students and it’s not fair

You can’t give it to us one week and take it away the next

Following the events of Covid-19, Cardiff University created a university-wide ‘safety-net’ policy which prevented students’ marks from falling below the average they’d already achieved. However, Business, GeoPlan, Law and ENCAP students in their first and second year are now being notified that this policy no longer applies to them. As an alternative, many schools are opting for ‘scaling’. This basically means that instead of applying an average to students’ grades, they will just makes sure they don’t fall too out of line with expectations.

Is this for real?

Students are already under immense stress over the pandemic, many with a family to care for as well as other obligations. So it’s no wonder we feel as though there is a lack of support and consideration from the university surrounding these circumstances. We need definitive decisions, not to be messed around.

Cardiff University tweeted about the situation, saying that they haven’t removed the safety net policy, but rather made subtle changes:

But in an email to students, The School of Geography and Planning said: “One of the reasons we have not referred to the average mark achieved by March 16 2020 for undergraduate students in years 1 and 2..”. So, in other words, they have removed the safety net aspect of the safety net. Makes sense, right?

For one of my group research projects, the only adaptation that was made was removing face-to-face interviews, which are actually illegal to do now anyways. Lecturers then claimed that doing the group project remotely would actually be beneficial but, as I’m sure most people have worked out, doing group meetings over Zoom isn’t all fun and games. Working remotely, especially for group projects, is extremely tough for students.

I consider myself very lucky that I don’t have a family member who needs care, and am in a home situation that means I can do my university work. However, for some, this is a struggle, and telling students to get on with it and apply for extenuating circumstances is unfair, ignorant and completely goes against all of the values the university supposedly stands for. Stop telling us that it’s a fair policy when there is absolutely nothing fair about giving some students a full safety net, whilst others get little support at all.

GeoPlan told students that the safety net no longer applies to first and second years, as it wouldn’t reflect the upward trend in progression students would normally see. Instead, they’ve told students they will be allowed to resit as many exams as they like. If things were really fair, you wouldn’t be expecting students to fail and have to resit.

As someone who hasn’t been affected by this, it still bothers me that many of my friends in other courses and years are not receiving the same benefits. Everyone has been badly disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic and the previous industrial action. No student should benefit more than another. All students should equally benefit from this policy. I appreciate the efforts the uni has made so far, but there is more that can be done.

Students are understandably aggravated, confused and want to know what is really going on. The Vice-Chancellor released this ‘no detriment’ policy, stating that “no student will be disadvantaged”, but we’re coming to realise that this isn’t really true. It feels like they’ve told us about the safety net to keep us quiet and happy, then little by little are removing it like it’s some sort of game.

Here’s what other students have to say:

“First year grades are a crucial part of applications for placement year”

A first year business student told the Tab: “It’s added so much pressure onto an already stressful time… we are all worried about how our assessments are going to affect our future careers not just our degree”.

“I feel like Cardiff University have left us out to dry”

One second-year Human Geography student is furious after most of the year was disrupted with strikes, and now this. The student told the Tab “It’s a joke that these marks will go towards my final degree, despite the lack of teaching and content delivery because of coronavirus, as well as the weeks and weeks of strikes”. The second-year geography student told us she felt completely unsupported and was let down by the GeoPlan department.

“This could threaten my future”

A first-year student told the Tab that they were worried about securing a placement, as it relied upon first year grades.

“You can’t give us a policy and then take it away a week later”

Another second-year geography student told the Tab that they were extremely worried about the long-term effects of this policy change. “The university aren’t considering the long-term effects of this policy to our futures”.

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