King’s rules out safety-net policy for postgraduates

Postgrads were informed yesterday the policy would not apply to them


Postgrad students at King’s College London will not be included in the safety-net policy that will apply to undergraduates.

Postgrads were informed in the university-wide email sent on April 3rd that “where possible” the safety-net policy applied to undergraduates would be applied to them also.

Yesterday, however, postgrads were informed that this policy would no longer apply to them, their grade would only be boosted if it were within 2 percent of the grade boundary.

Postgraduates had received no further information since the initial email on April 3rd so many assumed that the policy would, therefore, apply to them.

Masters students have written an open letter to the university which allows postgraduate students, undergraduate students, staff, and alumni to sign the letter.

The Tab King’s spoke to Master’s student Evie Aspinall, who created an open letter about the new changes. Evie said:

“Students would undoubtedly have approached assignments differently if they’d known the safety net they’d been promised didn’t actually exist. The University has completely misled postgraduates and their indecisiveness and failure to communicate will have a significant impact on many students results.

“It’s incredibly disappointing and I can only hope the University acknowledges its mistakes and overturns the decision in the interests of fairness.”

The letter explains this disappointment and anxiety postgraduate students at King’s are now facing with these new set of arrangements.

The letter said:

“On the 4th April, KCL students received an email from the university stating that ‘where possible’ a postgraduate taught safety net would be introduced and that they would ‘apply the same safety net averaging rules’ as exist for undergraduates to all postgraduate taught modules. The policy for undergraduates is that all completed modules and summative grades submitted before the 15th March will be used to create a ‘safety-net average’. Results for modules completed after the 15th March will be adjusted to ensure that the average for the year is at least as high as the safety-net average.

“A substantial amount of Term 2 work has been submitted since then, on the understanding that any marks would be adjusted and that students would achieve at least the same grades as the average for their previous modules. 

“However, the University has quietly changed its mind on the safety-net policy without properly notifying students. According to the University’s website, the Academic Standards Sub Committee replaced the safety net with a policy where students within 2% of a different grade boundary will now receive a higher grade.

“The University updated its website but unlike when it announced the original policy it has not notified students of the change. Departments have slowly started to email students today (18th May) but communication has been patchy and comes after students have submitted work under the belief that the safety net was in place.”

Whilst the letter acknowledge’s the original email did state this policy will be applied “where possible” it claims that postgraduates were misled into thinking this policy applied to them. The letter continued:

“Misleading students and switching policy after work has been submitted and without notifying students is grossly unfair and will undoubtedly have a negative impact on many students’ results. We believe a 2% grade adjustment for a minority of students does not fairly reflect the level of disruption postgraduate students have faced and will unfairly affect our future prospects. The University has stated repeatedly that it wants to ensure fairness for all students and to support student wellbeing during this difficult time. Adopting a much less generous policy last minute and without properly notifying students does not reflect this ethos.

“We, the undersigned, believe the University has misled postgraduates at the cost of our final grades and call on the University to immediately bring the safety-net for postgraduate taught students back in line with the safety-net for undergraduates.”

The letter has now been signed by 98 students at King’s as well as a number of student representatives including Claire Sosienski Smith, the NUS Vice President (Higher Education), and Piers Wilkinson, the NUS Disabled Students Officer, on behalf of NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign.

A King’s College London spokesperson has said:

“We remain committed to and have worked to provide a fair and equitable arrangement for all current postgraduate taught students. We are confident that we have all the mitigation measures in place to reflect this and to ensure that no student is disadvantaged.”

You can sign the open letter here.

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