Soton students deserve a no detriment policy and here’s why

Has the university forgotten about us completely?

In January, the University of Southampton confirmed that it will not be offering students a no detriment policy this year. Many students have expressed how strongly they feel about this decision and a petition for a no detriment policy was created. The petition has been signed by over 1,200 students. However, the university has decided to stick with plans to not offer a no detriment policy.

Students have been unable to come back to the university during the lockdown and this has affected our ability to complete coursework and exams, as well as leaving us anxious and stressed.

We deserve a no detriment policy and this is why:

Mental health is more important than ever

The pandemic and lack of support from universities and the government have had a toll on the mental health of students. This was exacerbated by a new lockdown announced in January. Many students were at home due to the Christmas holidays and due to the lockdown have been unable to return to university.

This lockdown has put students’ mental health at risk, with a lack of space in homes, noisy environments and inadequate workspaces. It is not always possible for students to avoid these noise disruptions, especially those who had to sit timed exams at home.

Not only were students stressed due to the nature of the exams, but struggling to cope due to financial reasons, conflicting time zones, lack of access to facilities to name a few problems encountered by students.

More than half of UK university students have said that their mental health has deteriorated since September, a survey of 2,000 students found that 57 per cent of those who participated “reported a worsening in their mental health and wellbeing during the autumn term”.

The statistics say it all – students’ mental health is worsening and we need help. Having a no detriment policy would at least give students some sort of reassurance.

Not everyone has the same access to resources

During the pandemic, many students have stayed at home instead of living at university. International students have had to attend lectures and seminars whilst adapting to time differences.

Many students may not have access to computers, the internet, or other resources needed for their degree at home due to the closure of public spaces such as libraries.

This means that internet access may have not been guaranteed, and this issue has led to serious concern for students.

A no detriment policy would mean that students feel less anxious about internet access issues, technical issues or glitches under timed assessments.

All students deserve to achieve their highest potential

The pandemic has stopped students from achieving their highest potential. Online exams have taken many students much longer than they normally would during in-person exams and internet issues have led to students being unable to submit exams on time.

The Soton Tab spoke to students about how they feel not having a no detriment policy has affected their exams:

Alex* said: “Exams were ridiculously hard to complete in a two-hour condition.”

Sophie* also talked about how exams seemed to be harder this year: “We have been told that the 24-hour exams should take four hours, but it took me 18 hours to complete.”

While James* said: “I had internet issues, which meant that I couldn’t submit my exam on time. I’m devastated, all my hard work is gone down the drain”

We deserve to not be penalised due to being in a pandemic.

Other Russell Group unis have recognised the need for no detriment

Russell Group universities such as York and UCL have implemented safety net measures or a no detriment policy however, Southampton has not.

The university has said, unlike last year, it has made appropriate action this academic year to ensure there was less disruption due to the pandemic. It said: “For this year we have been able to plan with an understanding of those challenges, which means that we hope to avoid taking any disruptive emergency-measures.”

The university states in order to “maintain high standards” they have decided to not offer the no detriment policy.

I strongly believe that the standard of the university does not consist of just grades but the wider university experience. This means that mental health is equally as important, if not more during these uncertain times.

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