Following the announcement of a national lockdown on January 4th 2021, we're listening to student concerns and sharing them with the University in order to establish answers as soon as possible.

Our initial guidance for any student is:

  1. Talk to your Course Team (lecturers). They can make the most immediate decisions affecting your course and will be able to clarify most information relevant to you and any upcoming assessments and exams
  2. Consider Exceptional Circumstances if your Course Team aren't able to help, or you think you may need to apply regardless, start the process as soon as possible
  3. Contact the Union via studentvoice@staffs.ac.uk or social media if you don't know what to do, if the support immediately offered isn't going to be sufficient, or if your circumstances are complex and you're struggling with solutions
 
We have been assured by the University that you will not be disadvantaged by the Government announcement.
 
We recognise some groups of students have been impacted more significantly due to school closures, we are hoping to get a resolution more quickly for those students affected in this way.

What we know so far...

Answers to some of your frequently asked questions and practical resources to help you can be found here.

Exams, Assessments and Deadlines: we recognise that a number of students have planned exams and assessments in the coming weeks, a meeting of the Learning and Teaching group has been convened for later this week to agree the best course of action. Your course leaders will be in touch this week to finalise plans.

Access to studios: technical services will remain open to support teaching and learning. If your course has not resumed on-campus delivery, we encourage you to use our online services wherever possible. Students whose courses have not resumed on campus need to discuss with their course leader their support needs and if they need additional support studentvoice@staffs.ac.uk

Practical Based work: we recognise that a number of students will be required to complete some form of practical work, a meeting of the Learning and Teaching group has been convened for later this week to agree the best course of action. Your course leaders will be in touch this week to finalise plans.   Technical based facilities will remain open and staffed to support teaching and learning for those students identified by the government guidance.

Postgraduate Lab access: the Government has stipulated that research students can attend campus, therefore access to technical facilities will remain open for this identified group of students

 

What we've done for you

Following meetings with the University regarding academic regulations and continued contribution to daily meetings with University senior staff, your Officer Team has compiled and shared student feedback with the University in order to establish answers to your questions where possible.

From here, we'll be responding individually to those who've shared concerns or queries online, hopefully answering their questions or at least pointing them towards helpful information and next steps.

The University has shaped their outgoing communications around student questions that we've collated, so hopefully, students will feel reassured once messages are circulated.

We've already reached out to Deans and Associate Deans to ask them to be considerate, supportive and understanding of you as people put under a huge amount of pressure and we'd like to thank all of our students for showing the same courtesy to our University's staff teams.

 

What's happening next?

On 7th January 2021, we'll  be presenting students' perspectives to the University's Learning & Teaching Group.

We have met with key colleagues to discuss academic regulations already. Quick changes to exceptional circumstances are due to be approved soon and further consideration on emergency regulations to be discussed on Thursday.

In this and other conversations going forward, we'll be pressing several key considerations regarding the academic experience that is underpinned by the University's regulations:

  1. Emergency Regulations should be put in place
  2. All students need to be appropriately supported to achieve as best they can
  3. Identifying and making alternative arrangements to assessments and exams is critical
  4. Giving additional time for assessments and exams should be considered
  5. When practical elements of assessments (e.g. presentations) are completed should be reviewed for some students; for example evenings and weekends
  6. Developing different processes should be considered in order to make sure learning and teaching is accessible to all should be considered

Success for Students: An Update on Progress 13/01/2021:

1. Emergency Regulations should be put in place

The University have not committed to applying emergency regulations, but have changed their exceptional circumstances process to make self-declaration an option for students following our lobbying.

2. All students need to be appropriately supported to achieve as best they can

The University re-iterated their commitment to supporting students and continue to work closely and positivey with the Officer Team and Union Senior Staff. We welcome the University's engagement with ourselves in regards to Covid19 since last March and will continue to advocate for students.

3. Identifying and making alternative arrangements to assessments and exams is critical

The University granted a 2 week extension to all assessments, and the tudent Voice Team are now supporting your Department Reps before upcoming School Academic Committees, where any further changes to assessments are likely to be discussed.

4. Giving additional time for assessments and exams should be considered

There are a small number of courses that aren't able to recieve the 2 week extension and we continue to try and identify the students who will be affected b working with the University. 

5. When practical elements of assessments (e.g. presentations) are completed should be reviewed for some students; for example evenings and weekends

We have secured success on Forensics Courses with adjuted timings thorugh a day where an exam was scheduled. Please let us know if similar support would be of use to you.

6. Developing different processes should be considered in order to make sure learning and teaching is accessible to all should be considered

If you're aware of any processes that feel unhelpful now that we're experiencing another national lockdown, please let us know if we can lobby the University to make further amendments in support of their students.

 

What students have told us matters most

School Closures

As primary and secondary schools are now closed, we've heard lots of concern from parent and carer students whose circumstances have just gotten much more challenging. We're connecting with Mature, Parent & Carer students via the Network's Facebook group, so please head there to keep up to speed.

If you're a parent concerned about technology that your children can use whilst learn from home, the government has a scheme to support families which you can learn more about here.

Success for Students: The University committed to loaning parent students an extra devie via their long-term laptop loan scheme in order to support those students whose children may not have a device to access their own online learning!

Digital Poverty 

With more of us staying at home, we know that access to laptops or other devices you'll need for your course may have just become much harder.

Remember that the University does have a scheme where you can apply for a free, long-term, laptop: apply here or read details about the scheme here

 

Mental Health

By now we all know how tough lockdowns can be. We're encouraging the University (course teams and services) to stay understanding and empathetic in their communication with students and we'd like to say a big thank you to students for behaving similarly.

If you need support during these tough and strange times, there is help online.

You can access the Start to Success Resources, use the 24/7 online Togetherall tool, or find key contact details and helpline numbers on the University's wellbeing webpages.

 

Accessibility

Learning support is still on offer from Libraries (which remain open) and your Course Teams, but we understand that students, and especially disabled students, will be apprehensive about getting appropriate academic and pastoral support as circumstances change for us all.

For queries around Learner Support Statements (LSSs or formerly LSAs), relevant accessibility software, equipment, or tools, please contact disability@staffs.ac.uk or 01782 294977 

 

Accommodation

The Students' Union has published an update on the legal position of students wanting to terminate their tenancies early.

The current crisis does not affect the law of contract regarding fixed-term tenancy agreements, but some private landlords are offering concessions i.e. a reduction in rent. You can find advice and a template to contact your landlord here.

We continue to highlight and seek solutions to these problems, including working with the NUS, so that students get the advice and support they need during this time.

Success for Students: following our lobbying on the issue, the University have committed to a rent reduction shceme for any students who haven't been able to return to their accommodation due to the national lockdown. You should have recieved an email with more details, 

 

What support is available for students?

 

If you're not able to find an answer to your question, or if you don't know where to start, get in touch with us via union@staffs.ac.uk or 01782 264 629


We proudly represent the academic interests of all Students at Staffordshire University. Providing advice, student groups and fantastic experiences that make us all very Proud to be Staffs.