GSU Officer update to members - Wednesday 3rd February

Our Officer Team have another update on what they're doing for students to get them the support they need during this pandemic.

GSU Officer update to members - Wednesday 3rd February Your Officers (left to right): Mayo, Zoë, Bilal and Niel

To our members,

We hope that you’re well and you’ve had a good exam and assessment period. We know there are a range of challenges at the moment – as your Officers, we’re working to try and make things easier for you. We wanted to give you an update on what we have been doing, and the support that’s been secured for you.

 

Fees

We are seeing many separate movements about fees and the value for money, both at Greenwich and within other students’ unions. We believe that joining with others strengthens the call for change. We recommend that we all come together under a campaign called Students United Against Fees to champion the cause for refunds. There are more details at the end of this email.

The case on value for money is a national debate and we will be lobbying the UK government for resolution. In the meantime, the Minister of Universities has responded to petitions on fees by directing students to their University complaint procedure. We have since worked with the University to create an expedient complaints process that should take 20 working days to complete. More details on how to submit a complaint can be found here.

Please don’t stay silent if you have issues with your course - it’s important that you let your Faculty know first. If they cannot resolve the issue then you can escalate your complaint all the way to the OiA (Office for Independent Adjudicators). You can view examples of cases considered by the OiA here.

However, this process can take some time and we as Officers recommend you try your best to resolve course issues with your Faculties first before you seek to escalate complaints.

 

Accommodation

University of Greenwich Halls - students living in University halls of residence have the security of the Accommodation Promise since September 2020. A second national lockdown was foreseen, and this rebate was put in place. Other Universities have not been so kind and other Students’ Unions (SUs) across the country are currently engaged in rent strikes for rebates. Greenwich students do not need to pay for the period of the lockdown as per the Accommodation Promise.

Full release from contract - you can email the University Accommodation Service if you have a good reason for needing to be fully released from contract. The University will then consider your circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

For private renters - we asked the University for support for students in private accommodation and they have set up a fund dedicated to this with £250k available for students in private accommodation that can display genuine hardship.

 

Assessments and academic regulations

Extensions - students raised issues of coursework and exam deadlines being close in proximity during the January assessment period. We lobbied the Vice Chancellor to create an action group to audit all courses and Faculties to ensure that those who had coursework due in the same week as their exams could have extensions and this was granted. If you have similar issues in the future, please contact your Programme leaders.

Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) - we have asked the University to extend their relaxation of evidential requirements for ECs to include more barriers to effective study, such as limited study space, caring responsibilities, or poor Wi-Fi issues. You can now submit a screenshot of the EC website along with a clear explanation of your circumstances to be granted an EC for these issues. Full details can be found on the University website.

No Detriment Policy - we worked closely with the University to ensure this safety net is in place for you. In short, your grades will be scaled up if your entire cohort underperforms compared to previous years completing the same assessments. Details of how the policy works can be found on our website.

Important things to note about this policy:

- It does not provide individual protections. This means that if your cohort performs well in an assessment, but you do not, the policy will not operate as a safety net for you and you should apply for Extenuating Circumstance.

- It is not like last year’s policy. This means that you will not be able to look at your own previous grades and calculate what your final grade may be before sitting your exams.

- The policy is a safety net, but it is not a guarantee of a good grade - you should still do your best to make use of all the support available to do the absolute best that you can. You’ve been amazing thus far by making it through the academic year to this point and we have full faith that you will be able to continue to defy the odds and do your best.

 

Financial support available to you

Here are some links to information and resources if you need financial support - just click the titles below.

University of Greenwich Hardship fund - if you are facing unexpected financial difficulties or hardship.

Online Access fund - dedicated funds for those without technology if you need equipment to get online.

International student Hardship fund - email the University's Student Finance team for more information.

 

What's next

Students Against Fees - everyone that has spoken up about the value for money this year has legitimate concerns, and we hear you. We will be working with SUs across the country through the Students United Against Fees campaign started by the London School of Economics (LSE) SU. You can sign up to our movement here. We will keep you updated on developments via our usual channels so make you are keeping in touch with Your Officers.

Ask Your Officers - Officers go live on Instagram every Thursday at 4pm to answer your questions. Use the 'Your Officers' link above to find our Instagram pages and follow us.

Student Assembly - our online Student Assembly is Wednesday 3rd February from 3pm-5pm. You can view details here. It’s time for us to come together as a collective to champion our issues. The meeting will be taking place on Microsoft Teams, and you can click the link here to go straight into the meeting at 3pm.

Work of the Union - you can also read more about our response to the pandemic on our website.

If you need help and 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. 

 

If there was something that we have missed or an issue which you think deserves more attention we would like to hear it!  Please utilise our feedback form to let us know.

Best wishes,

Your GSU Officer Team (Bilal, Mayo, Zoë and Niel)

 

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