RHUL officially adopts ‘safety net’ and ‘best of 90’ policies to help students

But some students feel the SU has not been representative of student opinion through the process

Royal Holloway University has just announced that they will be adopting a ‘Best 90’ policy, College Safety Net and other various policies to support students in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

The policies will provide Final Year Undergraduate Students a ‘Safety Net baseline final degree percentage’ based on all work unaffected by the COVID-19 and strike action which students will not be able to fall below.

The ‘Best 90′ policy will assess final year undergrads’ grades on the best 90 credits out of the 120 credits in the final year allowing students to achieve a higher grade.

Various other measures have been put in place to allow students to resubmit alternative assessments and coursework assessments if they are unable to submit their work on the first deadline (even after extensions). The first sits will be made available as soon as appropriate. The ‘College Safety Net’ and ‘Best of 90’ will also apply to students in other years and more details can be found here.

This decision comes as a response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 over the last couple of weeks. The virus has disrupted much of student life, uni work moving online, graduation’s cancelled and exam’s left in the balance.

RHUL students had  been petitioning for the University to adopt a ‘No Detriment’ Policy after other universities such as Exeter, Southampton and Liverpool adopted the system in March. The petition has gathered over 1,600 signatures and began circulating RHUL in mid to late March, being shared by multiple different students over various platforms.

In response to the petitions circulating the Royal Holloway Student Union posted a blog updating students on their lobbying efforts for the implementation of a ‘no detriment’ policy.

The blog told students that they had been working hard on behalf of the students in response to the emails they had received and what they had read on social media. The blog told students what they had “been discussing ways in which students can be protected from possibly unfair and unseen circumstances”. In response to the petitions circulating, and the mass emails from students on the subject of the ‘no detriment’ policy the RHSU asked students “a favour”:

“This is why we, as the Officer team, are asking for a little favour from you all: please, before starting petitions and sending mass emails, please do come (virtually) and talk to us.

“It may be that your cracking idea is something that we have started moving the wheels on or something that we can help to explain, and it is crucial that we tie these up.

“Unfortunately, methods such as mass emails to numerous staff tend to slow things down more than anything else – with resources tied up in responding instead of working on the issue. So please, work with us and help us help you.”

Upon the release of the blog some students felt dissatisfied with the SU’s response to their petition, felt  their queries hadn’t been answered and were overall frustrated by the SU’s response. A student contacted the Royal Holloway Tab to express their feelings on the situation, as they were left feeling that the blog was ambiguous and that the SU had not represented student opinion. Students replied on social media to the RHSU post:

The Royal Holloway  Tab contacted Jack O’Neil for a comment about the student opinion, he told us:

“It is understandable that people are anxious and worried about the future of their degree and we hope that today’s announcement from the College helps to reassure them. As an Officer team we have lobbied hard to achieve multiple changes to the original proposals that came forward and we thank those students who got directly in touch to discuss potential solutions regarding a no detriment policy.

“I’m sorry that our communications haven’t been as clear as possible about what this work has entailed, and I hope that people will understand that this situation is not something we’ve ever planned for. Simply put, we’re in unchartered waters here and the team are working as hard as possible to continue representing you.

I promise you; we are listening to your views; we’re constantly monitoring social media and we are fighting for student rights on multiple fronts. Our unique position allows us to have those conversations with the top decision makers in the College and I implore everyone to please talk to us about issues you are facing and we’ll do our best to get results for you.”

As the new policies have been released it is hoped that this will be significant in supporting students in such a difficult and unprecedented time.

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