UoM explicitly rule out blanket ‘no disadvantage’ policy for this term
This was announced in response to SAFER’s letter of appeal
The University of Manchester have ruled out a ‘no disadvantage’ policy for this term, as “are running designed, online assessments or making provision for on-campus assessments where necessary”.
Instead, they have updated their ‘Procedure for Protecting the Interests of Students and Postgraduate Researchers during Exceptional Events’ to now explicitly recognise the current pandemic”.
They said: “This, plus our mitigating circumstances arrangements, which now include taking account of IT issues, ensure we do not need any further blanket policy like the ‘no disadvantage’ one.”
The decision comes as a response to student action group SAFER’s appeal to UoM in regards to tuition and accommodation fees, on the 9th November. The University took three weeks to respond.
The university address SAFER’s accommodation pledge to students in halls of residence, which follow news of the agreement for a 30 per cent rent reduction for all students in University halls of residence for semester one. The uni also, “acknowledges that the unavailability of some facilities due to national COVID-19 restrictions has had an impact on the student experience”. As a result of this, they will be meeting with the Students’ Union to try and make improvements.
In relation to study options for students, the uni said, “as far as possible” students were able to chose whether to study in person or remotely in semester one. And that face to face teaching has been put off on the basis of them “following UK Government and Public Health England advice at all times”, but that they hope “we can return to more normal activities soon”.
In the response, UoM have said that they have in place a “comprehensible support package for students who are self-isolating”. However, they do acknowledge that they should have, “responded more quickly to the large numbers of students who were infected or in self-isolation at the start of the semester”.
The uni mention the on-campus safety measures and the provisions put in place for utilising the library facilities. In regards to additional support, they said: “We offer a range of resources for students to access in a way which works for them ” and list two services, of the “counselling and mental health service” and “new 24/7 mental health support line and app”. A Living Cost Support Fund is also available to students who are struggling financially.
Financially, the uni replied to SAFER: “As you outlined in your correspondence, there have been some financial gains as a result of COVID-19 i.e. lower operational costs.
“However there has also been a detrimental impact on our finances, including the cost of COVID-19 safety supplies and resources, loss of income for commercial outlets (e.g. cafés, restaurants, residency bars) and payments in relation to student accommodation refunds.”
The response concludes with the university representative saying: “We have given a commitment to continue to listen to and engage with elected student representatives.
“We will be having further meetings with elected student representatives to get feedback on other things we can do to help improve their time here in Manchester.”
Despite the email response, a SAFER member told the Manchester Tab: “It’s interesting to note how they state they are conducting ‘ongoing student engagement’ whilst they still refuse to meet in person with us”.
Feature images credited to: Eliza Lewis