‘How is it no detriment?’: We spoke to Soton students about the new policy

One said it’s been ‘a very messed up semester that now counts for nothing’

It was recently revealed that under Soton’s no detriment policy, no work from Semester Two will count towards students’ degrees, other than final year dissertations and projects.

Emails obtained by The Soton Tab, sent to students in multiple departments, said Semester Two grades will not count for first and second years, whilst final year students will be able to improve their grade with their diss, but not any other work from this Semester.

Back in March, Southampton students were told the University was implementing a no detriment policy. An email sent to all students said: “We guarantee that your academic year average will be no lower than the average that you had achieved by 22 March 2020. If you do well in assessments submitted after 22 March, of course, your academic year average could go up.”

Since this news in March, there had been confusion about how the no detriment policy would actually work for students, but the emails sent this week revealed more.

The Soton Tab asked our Instagram followers about their thoughts on the policy. In one poll, 40 per cent said they thought the Uni had made it a good policy, whilst 60 per cent said the Uni should have worked out no detriment differently.

In another poll, just 33 per cent said their grades would be helped by just having Semester One count, while 67 per cent said they would do better if Semester Two counted.

The Soton Tab also spoke to students in various subjects and years about how they feel about the new details of the Uni’s no detriment policy, now that Semester Two won’t count. Here’s what they had to say:

Many feel the university could do more to support students

A second year English and Spanish student said many students “may have had personal issues in Semester One”, making it “unfair” to not let people improve their grades.

Many students told us they were “relying” on Semester Two modules and had been working hard to improve their grades, with one saying: “If you do better in Semester Two than One, then it should count!”

Another called it a “nightmare”, saying: “My average so far is about eight per cent higher in Semester Two than One.”

Many students have also expressed their desire to choose whether this Semester counts towards their degree classification or not, with one second year student saying we’ve paid “£4.5k for a very messed up semester that now counts for nothing”.

A Politics and Spanish and Latin American studies student said: “How can they call it a no detriment policy if my grades for this year will be much lower because Semester 2 isn’t considered? That’s detriment.” Another said: “It’s gone from ‘no detriment’ to ‘no improvement’.”

A WSA student studying Graphic Design told The Soton Tab she has “no idea” how her grades are going to be calculated, saying the current set up is “making a mockery” of her course and wishing WSA was “addressed at the same time” as the main University.

A second year student said: “It’s bullshit. All the hard work they’ve told us to carry on with now doesn’t count.” Another said: “No detriment was meant to allow you to do better, not just stay the same.”

Some students are in support of the new policy

One student said: “Semester One was my better grade, Semester Two was messed up with the stress and the pandemic.”

A second year Electronic Engineering student said: “It’s just ‘spicy no detriment’. The new policy is really good. We can show off good work without having the stress of getting a lower classification because of this Semester.”

A third year student did point out that “the average grade will go up significantly” if students were permitted to only improve their marks, saying it could make our degree be “worth less”.

Another student said it is “definitely much better than universities in other parts of Europe”.

Other students have mixed feelings about it all

A second year Economics and Philosophy student said they “didn’t mind this term not counting” as they had a decent grade last semester, but can see why their friends find it “very frustrating” when they’ve worked hard to improve their average.

A first year Humanities student said although the policy has “very little impact” on the rest of her degree, if the University did an announcement to everyone then “a lot of confusion could have been saved”.

Another student said: “It makes sense since Semester Two was disrupted so badly, but at the same time people worked hard.”

Cate, a first year Maths student said the policy is “useful” as it means she is not “stressed about assignments”. However, her motivation has since decreased more and she believes “online lectures are really hard to focus on and learn from”.

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