UCL, dragging your heels on finalising the no detriment package is damaging students

The longer that UCL waits to confirm the no-detriment policy, the worse things get for us

Since the new national lockdown was announced, there has been a call for the university to support all the students who have been affected by introducing a blanket no-detriment policy to ensure grade safety. There have been petitions, open letters, talks with the union and more to try and get the no-detriment policy in place for all UCL students. And whilst there has been some progress, with the Union and UCL announcing that a no-detriment policy is on the way, we still don’t have the confirmation of what the no-detriment policy will entail that students desperately need.

So far, students have faced unprecedented issues due to the pandemic since teaching has been mostly online for the whole year, and the current lockdown measures mean that resources are even more limited for us. Most of us were told by the government to go home for Christmas, but we have been unable to return to London due to lockdown being enforced in the Christmas break. And for those students lucky enough to be in London, resources and study spaces have been cut down, with only a limited number available.  With the constant disruption to our studies, students are struggling and UCL needs to recognise it by implementing a no-detriment policy ASAP.

The decision to implement a no-detriment policy is an important one, and the Students Union and UCL have been in talks for a while now about it. There have been multiple announcements, but each one has been disappointing. First, the Union announced the ‘principles for an assessment support package’, which UCL then announced a week later and dressed it up as a big announcement for students, despite the fact that we already knew this. This ensured that UCL kept its reputation as they are addressing the subject, but it messes with students’ heads and keeps us stringing along, waiting desperately for a new announcement that doesn’t even tell us anything new.

I now have no faith in the new announcements that UCL makes, as they just keep putting off announcing the actual no-detriment policy and instead try and placate the angry students with empty words instead of answering the simple question: will we be getting a no-detriment policy similar to last years?

After UCL gave staff a full no-detriment policy but left students guessing about what support they would be given, it has become increasingly obvious that UCL is not properly considering the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the students. It feels as though we are being ignored and pushed aside, and it is undeniable that this will have an impact on our studies as well as our wellbeing and mental health. UCL is failing to recognise that it is their own actions and their hesitancy regarding the no-detriment policy that is making life much harder for students in a time that is already taking its toll on mental health.

All we are asking for is some certainty.

By dragging this out, UCL is ignoring the urgency of the situation. A no-detriment policy will provide the assurance we need that our grades will not be negatively affected by the circumstances of the pandemic, and we need it now more than ever in order to move on with our studies with confidence. Exams and essays are still going on, but not knowing what they will truly be worth makes it hard to focus. My motivation is at an all-time low: if I had the reassurance of a no-detriment policy, I think I would be more motivated and not worry if I am struggling as I know that my grades would be safe.

Uni work actually feels like torture in the midst of a pandemic

Every student I know is struggling at this point. Whether its due to family issues, online burnout, boredom, struggling with mental health issues or dealing with self-isolating, COVID-19 is affecting every part of our lives at the moment. However, the no-detriment policy is just another thing that weighs on students’ minds at the moment, and it is an unnecessary one. UCL needs to get its act together and give us a grade-safety net to take one thing off our mind. We deserve to know that our grades will not be negatively affected by the turmoil of the past year, and so far the announcements from UCL haven’t been enough. It is not enough to know that it is being discussed, we need action.

It has been over a month of the national lockdown, and nearly a year since online teaching began. Last year, it took UCL 3 weeks to announce the no-detriment policy; this year it’s been a month and we have only been told about a few details of the no-detriment policy for this year. The Class of 2021 deserves a no-detriment policy just as much as the Class of 2020, and our struggles this year deserve to be recognised just as much as the struggles of last year. The facts are simple: our studies have been disrupted by COVID-19, and a no-detriment policy would alleviate some of the stress of being a student in an unprecedented global pandemic.

Waiting on the announcement of a full no-detriment policy is honestly torturous, and every week that goes by without the full policy is another week of being disillusioned with uni and complaining about UCL. It is damaging to students by hesitating on announcing the policy, especially as student wellbeing is already struggling. After cancelling graduation and confirming that all classes will be online for the rest of term 2, we need some good news from UCL right now.

UCL, we need and deserve a no-detriment policy. And we deserve to know sooner rather than later what support UCL is going to give us after a year of hardships. The longer the wait, the worse things get for students, and we deserve better.