This is how students feel about the 2020/21 No Detriment policy

“I can’t believe we waited this long for practically NOTHING”

Students feel disappointed, confused and angry. Many feel like their patience and perseverance throughout the last few, undeniably challenging, months has not been recognised by the mitigation measures announced Monday.

The ‘no detriment’ policy that was announced on Monday does not seem to prevent detriment at all and only benefits a very select few rather than collectively supporting the student body. The Union also raised that UCL made the decision to prioritise protecting “academic integrity” and preventing grade inflation over student wellbeing. For many students who are currently trying their best to keep their heads up, this was a huge breach of trust.

From the name through to the weaknesses of the package combined with the overarching lack of clarity, students are once again disappointed and have been left feeling disrespected by UCL.

The Tab has spoken to students about what the policy means for them and how they are feeling:

Emily, a Classics Finalist has said told us how she doesn’t think the measures warrant the name ‘no detriment’ as many students are still liable to adverse results as a consequence of the circumstances engendered by the pandemic. She said:

“The policy in itself will only achieve no academic detriment for those who are within a fraction of a grade boundary. For anyone else the policy does not take account of the lack of facilities, we’ve had access to or the pressing reality that online teaching IS substandard. Frankly, the policy does not warrant the name ‘no detriment’ at all. UCL this is beyond disappointing, it’s disrespectful.”

Arwen, a final year History undergrad, told us how disappointed she feels that we waited for so long for measures which only seem to assist those who least need a no detriment policy in the first place:

“I can’t believe we waited this long for practically NOTHING: if more than 50% of my modules are above 70 why would I even need the minuscule reduction in grade boundary? (same applies to other grade qualifications) As for the increased amount of ECs, those can be achieved by applying for SORAs and/or having doctors letters of diagnosis. The no detriment package is nothing.”

This sentiment was echoed by a third-year Economics student who expressed how pointless the policy is given that it largely seems to support those least in need of it:

“The general consensus of economic students is that the policy is not very helpful or supportive. The style of assessment has already been very different this year compared to previous years, with a much greater emphasis on essays and coursework, which we haven’t been prepared for. Given this more coursework heavy approach, it is much harder to get a first in any given module, so to achieve a first in 4 modules is already a great feat and means you would most likely get a first anyway.”

A second-year Geography student told us how his request for additional support alongside the new measures was denied by UCL:

“I was told that my request for additional support due to my learning disability was ‘unreasonable’ despite the pandemic. I have never felt so let down, neglected and thrown aside in my life. UCL literally don’t care … as long as they get their money”

Beth, a History student in their final year told us that, while the policy would help her personally, she thinks it fails to provide adequate support for those more seriously affected by grief or challenging studying circumstances as a result of the pandemic:

“As someone who has consistently been getting firsts or high 2:1s the policy has taken a bit of pressure off this year and the EC’s are extremely helpful since its near impossible to speak to a GP at the moment. But I think the policy fails to account for the fact that people are really vulnerable this year. What students needed was to feel reassured and supported but instead the policy is complicated, no one I have spoken to really understands it, and its actually stressing everyone out more because of this. I think the reassurance that dropping your worst 15 or 30 credits would have brought would have been a better solution.”

Similarly, if you have looked at UCLove this week, you will have seen the veritable torrent of posts students have written expressing their distress and disappointment at the policy. Common themes across UCLove posts are frustration and disappointment at the limited extent of the policies, as well as confusion as to how they will operate and affect people’s degrees in practice. Several anonymous posters have taken the time to scrutinise the measures announced on Monday.

While it may yet prove futile to lament the weaknesses of the measures that UCL has opted for, UCLove does prove a valuable tool for students to vent grievances and collectively help one another understand what exactly the implications of the 2020/21 no detriment policy are for different groups of students.

It is also worth emphasising that, despite all these sentiments of confusion and concern, the student body is still incredibly grateful for the Student Union’s intercession on our behalf, since, regardless of your opinion on the measures announced, anything is better than the ‘nothing’ that UCL had initially promised to enforce at the beginning of this year.