The COVID-19 pandemic has caused interruption, problems and distress for students throughout 2020 and 2021.
The government has almost exclusively ignored us, and despite the hard work of staff and lecturers, higher education is struggling to offer the experience students were both promised and so deserve.
As your Students’ Union we understand what you are going through. We are here to support you and your elected representatives are here to make sure your voice is heard. Students deserve better that’s why we are fighting for fair treatment for you in all areas of your student experience.
National Campaigning and Lobbying
On a national level we are pressuring the government to urgently address the devastating impact of COVID and continued lockdowns and restrictions on University students. Your President, Conor Naughton, has written a joint letter with thirty other Students’ Union Presidents to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, and Michelle Donegan, Minister of State for Universities urging them to:
Take University students’ struggles seriously
Implement universal academic protections
Subsidise rent for those not able to return to accommodation
Give students the digital provision they need to learn
In October and December your President, Conor and VP Opportunities, Cameron attended two emergency All-party Parliamentary Group meetings for students where they raised student issues on tuition fees, access to necessary digital equipment for online learning and improved mental health support for students up and down the UK.
In January 2021 Conor will be a panel member on a live event with Nadia Whitmore Member of Parliament for Nottingham East discussing lockdowns and university.
Success so far
Great news! NTU will be refunding rent in UPP and University owned halls for students who are not living there between Jan 4th to Feb 21st. This will save £1,000s for students.
This comes after we wrote to them early last week and is the culmination of lots of work on this issue which began in December, in addition to other great work from so many students. We will be working with the University to write to private landlords across Nottinghamshire to ask that those students living in private providers are offered the same financial refunds.
We are pleased that the University agreed with us that all students required the ability to receive extensions on all assessments and deadlines if they felt affected by COVID.
NTSU’s Information and Advice Manager who deals with helping students with extensions on work every year had this to say : This change in the NEC policy is really going to benefit those students who need and want an extension/deferment of their work but are unable to obtain the necessary supporting evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions. Without this change, these students may have felt that they had no choice but to submit work which does not reflect their true potential and/or fail to submit work at all which could have a negative impact on their degree classification. The change also takes away the stress and anxiety students face when having to rely on a third party to provide evidence in time for their NEC to be actioned.
Your President Conor has secured the continuation of the free parking for students at Clifton and Brack that he achieved with the University to continue for the whole of term two. Those with pre-paid permits will also be refunded for the term saving £1000s in parking fees throughout November and December.
Our Information & Advice Service has provided guidance on housing, academic issues, mental health and financial hardship over 6,000 times in 2020/21 along with guidance and support for many more.
Restrictions have caused untold hardships and difficulties for our members in engaging with their learning. We have fed this back to the university and have been successful in influencing alternative course delivery, providing additional support and new study spaces including in our own buildings, increased additional study space and more bookable library slots.
On Tuesday 26th January 2021, your President Conor Naughton has organised an online student Q&A for all NTU students with the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Education, Jane McNeil and several other key University staff so you can ask them your questions on no detriment and assessments. You can submit questions here.
We have been in discussions with the University since the first term asking them to take action on rent and contracts and to join us in influencing private providers to do the same. This work has gathered pace and developed since the introduction of the new national lockdown in January 2021. We realise that this issue is wider that those just in University accommodation and we are also applying pressure on the government to take action.
We as an exec have written to multiple private accommodation providers lobbying them to follow the footsteps of NTU’s accommodation providers and provide a refund or waiver on rent for those students who are not staying in their accommodation during the national lockdown. To see the list of providers we have contacted so far click here. This list will be updated regularly.
If you can’t see your accommodation provider get in touch and let us know who/what company it is, and we will write to them.
We encourage you to also contact your accommodation provider yourself using our provided template below. Instructions on how to edit the letter can be found in the document. Any concerns, please get in contact with our Information and Advice Service for further support.
The pandemic has had a huge detrimental impact on students learning and assessments and the new lockdown has exacerbated this further. We have secured an updated NEC (notice of exceptional circumstances) policy that gives all students a more accessible opportunity to apply for extensions on assessments.
However, we support our students and their need for more safeguards in their academic studies and we are pleased that the Office for Students has written to universities on this topic this week.
We are currently working towards:
Implementation of safeguards that fairly protect all students grades against the detrimental impact of the pandemic.
Suitable and fair adjustment to assessments for all students whose studies require practical elements (e.g. lab based data collection, physical work).
We are continuing to work with the University to feedback students’ views and you can help us provide more evidence by using #TellTrent and completing the survey that will be shared with your academic representatives in January 2021.
Working with NTU to ensure all schools are increasing opportunities for students to speak directly to senior academic staff.
In the event of easing of coronavirus restrictions ensuring a swift return to covid-secure face-to-face teaching for students who are able to access it.
Use the link to find and write a letter to your local MP telling them how COVID-19 and your experience this year has caused you issues including finance, wellbeing, academic and any other issues you feel are important. You can also write to specific Ministers of State with remits for Education and/or Universities.
We have launched our #TellTrent survey which is open to every student at NTU. The survey focuses on how NTU have been assessing you so far this academic year, what they currently have in place going forward and also questions on access to facilities, resources and more.
We are urging as many students as possible to complete #TellTrent to help us as part of our student’s deserve better campaign to help NTSU feedback your experience to the University and make sure action is taken to improve your academic experience.
Deadline for submissions is Wednesday 3rd February at midday.