As we approach the start of Term 2, our Officer Team have an update on their lobbying to the University about teaching and campus life during this new lockdown and beyond.
To our members,
We want to welcome you back after the holidays and wish you a Happy New Year!
With the news of a third lockdown across the UK due to Coronavirus, we hope you’re coping well. We know this a challenging time for you; please know that your Officers and the whole of Greenwich Students’ Union (GSU) is here to support you.
We want to clarify what the University is doing to continue your learning and support and get the best deal for you, our members. We know that you've got questions and concerns about what’s going to happen with your studies and campus life. We’ll keep you updated with answers from the University as and when we get them.
We have presented the most pressing of your questions to the University leadership to ensure your concerns are addressed and that swift action is taken. You can find those questions and information below about the support and services that are currently available to you.
As per the government advice to significantly reduce the number of students returning to face-to-face teaching, many courses will be online until mid-February. Courses such as Medicine and Dentistry or courses related to a Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) may have face to face teaching. If you are confused, please reach out to your Programme Leader or Personal Tutor for clarity.
The University can support students with digital hardship such as providing laptops and dongles for those who require it. For more details, ask your Personal Tutor.
We’ve also asked the University to ensure that people with specific needs such as PGR students, student parents, students on health courses and International students in different time zones are supported.
Deadlines - we have asked for a blanket extension to assessment deadlines in January and are waiting for final confirmation. Each Faculty is looking through all the deadlines currently and will communicate to you directly if any of your deadlines are affected. If you do not hear from your Programme Leader, then please proceed with the deadlines as they currently stand.
Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) – on our request the University have relaxed the evidential requirements for ECs for circumstances related to the pandemic. More details will be published in the next two weeks.
No Detriment policy – we have worked with the Vice Chancellor and Senior Academics, and the University has committed to a No Detriment Policy to provide a safety net for your grades. The University of Greenwich is committed to help every student progress and graduate with best possible grade, regardless of the impact of COVID-19. Full information will be published within the next two weeks. Be assured, for your assessments in the coming weeks and the end of the academic year, this policy will protect you.
University Student Services
We have sought clarity from the university as to what services are available to support you during this time. The following services will be operating limited times this term:
Campus Libraries - all libraries will remain open from 9am – 7pm on weekdays and 9am – 5pm on weekends for quiet, socially distanced, independent study. The University are also extending the loan dates for books to the end of February. You can use any library at Greenwich, even one on a different campus to where you study or live. Just make sure you have your Student ID to show when you arrive.
Student Centres - these are open for face-to-face queries on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am-2pm, and remote queries Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can stay updated with opening times for the different campuses via the Greenwich website.
Wellbeing support - details about wellbeing support through the University can be found on their website at gre.ac.uk/articles/public-relations/wellbeing-students.
We have seen students across the UK mobilise to ask for a reduction in their tuition fees. Those of you that would like to organise to have your voices heard and to share your experiences, please message one of your Officers. We will be joining the national campaign from the National Union of Students (NUS) to lobby the government for a refund of University fees for this year. We’ll have more details about this in the next few weeks.
We have successfully lobbied the University to commit to an Accommodation Promise at the beginning of the academic year – it helps you to be released from your contract in the occurrence of a national lockdown and where your course must move fully online. The University is committed to this and will provide support for all students who require it.
For those living in private accommodation, we understand how hard and frustrating this is and we will be writing a letter to the Government and National Landlord Association to campaign for support on your behalf. If you are feeling any kind of hardship, then please get in touch with University Student Finance team as they will be able to help you.
We know that more needs to be done to support International students and we are pushing the university to ensure that communications to international students are clear and timely. International students travelling from overseas for the Spring term are to consider whether they need to travel to the UK at this time, particularly if their course does not require them to be on campus at the moment. Before making travel plans, government advice is to:
- check additional entry requirements and restrictions that have been introduced due to COVID-19 before travelling to the UK (such as completing the passenger location form and self-isolation after your arrival)
- check with the University (via your Faculty and/or the University website) in advance to confirm when face-to-face teaching begins, and what support is available for you when you arrive
- inform the University if you’re already booked travel for dates outside of their specified cohort date
The government has said that visa concessions allow for the ongoing provision of online learning for the duration of the academic year 2020/21, and students will not be penalised for being unable to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) while coronavirus (COVID-19) measures are in place.
GSU Welcome - you can still do something with 2021 through our GSU Welcome programme! We have a broad range of activities on offer which you can engage in at home. You can make new mates through our Societies; be active with GSUMove; and stay calm with StressBusters.
Our outlets - our Village Shop on the Avery Hill campus is open Monday-Friday; our other outlets (Lower Deck and Change) will be closed until further notice. Keep an eye on their websites and/or social media for updates on when they’ll reopen.
Advice - if you need confidential support, our advisors can help with issues such as finances, housing, academic issues, health & wellbeing or any other issues, contact our Advice Team at greenwichsu.co.uk/advice. We also have a range of events through our StressBusters programme to help you tackle stress and improve your wellbeing while you learn from home. See the events on offer on our website.
At Greenwich Students Union (GSU), we’re committed to making sure you can still have a great time at Greenwich, in amongst all these changes. Keep an eye on our website, social media channels and further emails about our activities, events, and updates such as this.
Until next time, take care and stay safe!
Your GSU Officer Team (Bilal, Mayo, Zoë and Niel)