King’s respond to anger over lack of postgraduate ‘safety net’ policy

They say they are “fully committed to mitigating the negative impact of Covid-19” but the policy “will not now change”.

King’s have today responded to an open letter asking for the undergraduate ‘safety net policy’ to apply also to postgraduate students.

The policy would ensure that any work submitted after the start of the Covid-19 crisis could not negatively impact a student’s overall grade, with students receiving their first-semester average if it’s higher than their end of year result.

Following the announcement on the 20th May that the King’s safety net policy would not apply postgraduate students, an open letter was written asking the university to change their decision.

In the letter, students said it was “incredibly unfair” to inform students about this change after most had already submitted their coursework, believing it would be included in the safety net policy.

Despite gaining nearly 400 signatures from concerned postgraduate students, King’s have announced that they will not change their decision. In an email sent to postgraduate students they say:

“We recognise the ongoing pandemic has been unsettling for everyone, particularly in relation to exams and assessments. We want to assure you that we remain fully committed to mitigating the negative impact of Covid-19 for all of you, and have worked to design fair, equitable and proportionate arrangements to reflect this commitment.”

However,  the “overall approach to mitigation [was] approved by the Academic Standards Sub-Committee, as part of a range of mitigation measures, and will not now change.”

They also state that this does not “represent a change of policy” as the initial announcement said a safety net would only be put in place “where possible”. They argue that this policy can not be put into place for postgraduates “without compromising academic outcomes, fairness, and equity of consideration for all postgraduate taught students.”

In addressing the different measures for undergraduates and postgraduates, they said that:

“We understand that concerns are about a seemingly different approach to undergraduates and postgraduates. The vast majority of postgraduate taught (Masters) students have not yet accumulated enough marks this year to apply a reliable safety net average for the year as a whole without unacceptably compromising academic standards.

“Whereas at undergraduate level we had the option to consider marks from previous years, this is not available at postgraduate taught (Masters) level. Applying this specific element was therefore just not possible. So we collectively took the decision to apply the elements of the safety net policy which could feasibly and appropriately be applied at Postgraduate taught (Masters) level – a new rule governing borderline cases, to ensure that you have a strong chance of being awarded a higher classification if you are sitting at the borderline between classifications.”

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