To all the students out there claiming we don’t need no detriment: This is why you’re wrong

Grow up and realise the world does not just revolve around you and your “mostly unaffected” uni life, people need no detriment

It only takes one glance at the submissions of UCLove, the university’s anonymous confessions page, to know that students are in a state of war over the no detriment policy.

More specifically, there appears to be a vocal minority who feel that universities should not reinstate a blanket no detriment policy as it would devalue their degree.

So, to everyone claiming that the cost of a safety net outweighs the benefit, here are five reasons why you’re wrong:

Mental health is MORE important than you outperforming your classmates

The Tab has already extensively covered how the pandemic and online teaching has impacted the mental health of university students. Not only are students naturally stressed due to the demands of their degree, but many are also now struggling because of: increased financial problems; isolation; the inability to access university facilities; unstable internet connection; differing time zones; and toxic or otherwise impossible learning environments. It would also be a disservice not to acknowledge the additional stresses of students with disabilities and special needs to whom online teaching is less than accommodating.

Considering that there has already been a reported increase in student suicide rates since the start of the pandemic, alleviating stress and anxiety should be our top priority as a community.

In a perfect world, this reason alone would be enough to trump all arguments against the no detriment policy.

Employer bias will not be an issue

The claim that employers will not hire students who have graduated with the help of a no detriment policy is simply absurd (and kind of self-centred). Most employers do not keep track of universities’ internal affairs. Right now, businesses are more preoccupied with trying to stay afloat during a pandemic – just like we are – and it is pretty safe to assume that hiring managers won’t blacklist students graduating in 2021. There is, however, a big likelihood that employers will compare your achievements to that of students from other cohorts who didn’t and won’t have to attend university during a pandemic (this is, after all, an extraordinary circumstance that is unlikely to repeat again in our lifetime).

Besides, those students who are keen to demonstrate their supposed intellectual superiority to their future employer can always make a case for how their grades are amazing irrespective of the policy.

Not having a safety net works against you just as much as your classmate 

For some finalists, there is the concern of increased competition as a result of “grade inflation”. Firstly, it would be naïve to assume that everyone would graduate with a First in the case of a new no detriment policy. More importantly, however, if other universities do provide their students with a safety net, will it not be the students without one that are subsequently disadvantaged?

Similarly, there are also a number of non-finalists who fear that they would be dealing with unfair competition if those before them receive the no detriment policy. The truth is that we don’t know what education will look like in the subsequent years. If it’s anything like it is now, however, then these students should also advocate for some form of insurance when their time comes as finalists; reinstating the policy this year would only help pave the way.

“Targeted policies” do leave too much unaccounted for

Many of those who are gravely concerned about the devaluation of their degree have suggested implanting “targeted policies” – a form of safety net that only applies to the students most affected by the pandemic. However, this prompts a whole new set of issues and unanswered questions: where’s the cut-off point? And how does one prove themselves to be sufficiently affected?

Reputation goes both ways

Lastly, reputation isn’t dependent on grades only. I doubt that the reputation of a “world-leading” university would be positively affected if it turned out to be one of the few universities in the UK that refused to lend a helping hand to students during a destructive pandemic.

Ultimately, the need for a no detriment policy becomes clear once we start to look at the bigger picture, beyond simply ourselves. Of course, it’s good to have differing perspectives on the world – universities are, after all, supposed to be diverse – but when the debate concerns something that impacts the foreseeable future of thousands of people, the answer seems obvious: this is an issue of compassion. For this reason, it is important that others begin to recognise that reinstating the no detriment policy does not seek to give students an “unfair advantage”; on the contrary, it seeks to eliminate the disadvantage thousands are already facing.