'Safety Net’ policy for summer assessments secured [Updated 9-4-20]

Your Officers have urged for action by the University

The following content includes updates from your Sabbatical Officers. To read the original statement, scroll to the bottom.


[Update from Sabbatical Officers: 09/04/2020 15:10]

  • The University will be updating their FAQ's with more info on the Safety Net this coming Tuesday (14th April).
  • Baseline averages hope to be communicated by the end of April, your Sabbs will keep pushing on this.
  • An email for clarity to our Research Masters students will come from the University today (9th April). 


[Update from Sabbatical Officers: 07/04/2020 17:06]

The Students’ Union has been working hard to effectively represent your academic interests during this difficult time, and is delighted to announce that we have secured a “safety net” policy with the University for both undergraduate and taught postgraduate students to help ensure that students graduate with the grade they deserve.

After listening to and collating student feedback, including an online petition, created by Abigail Darby, with almost 9000 signatures and feedback from academic reps, the Students’ Union’s President, Education Officer and Postgraduate Officer have been advocating for the introduction of a “safety net” policy in all meetings with the University over the last fortnight. They then worked closely with the University to ensure this policy is implemented in the best and fairest way possible. The policy progressed to University Senate (the highest University decision-making academic body) and was approved and signed off today.

The “safety net” policy, also known as a no-detriment policy, means that all undergraduates who pass their summer assessments will be able to retain their current average grade as a minimum. If students perform better than their current average then they will be able to use these improved grades. This consequently means that, as long as students pass their summer assessments, they will have either the same average grade for the academic year as they had before teaching and learning was directed to online, or a higher grade. There are some exceptions from this because some degrees are accredited by professional bodies, and if you are on a accredited programme your School will be in touch with you once they find out whether the relevant accrediting body allows the introduction of a safety net policy. A similar policy has also been secured for postgraduate taught students which reflects the differing nature of PGT courses.

Alongside this, the Students’ Union is continuing to represent students’ academic interests related to wider aspects of online teaching and assessment, and is collecting feedback from course and school reps to ensure students’ voices are being reflected all in meetings with the University.


[Update from Sabbatical Officers: 03/04/2020 13:31]

With the current concerns of Covid-19 we understand that many of you are feeling anxious and stressed regarding Summer assessments and exams. Therefore, we want to update you on the actions we as your Sabbatical Officer team are taking to try to help ease this as regularly as possible. The statement that we put out (found below) to provide reassurance that Sabbs are taking the safety net seriously and that we’re working on it, has been slightly misconstrued. The ‘conclusions’ part, were conclusions that came of a meeting we had with the University, not conclusions any Sabbs had from the meeting. These were concerns the University raised, and we wanted to make sure we relayed this back to you whilst we work with the University to rectify these issues, to explain why this appears to be moving so slowly right now.

Our proposal for the safety net policy is being considered at the University’s Executive Board on the 2nd of April 2020, and we will all know the outcome of this next week (which will be updated on this page). Please be mindful that this is a difficult time for all and that we are still here representing you.  Despite getting used to this new way of working, we will continue to listen to the student voice and get your points across in every meeting we sit on digitally. The Sabbatical Officer team work as a collective to make decisions on the course of action we take in representing you - please be mindful that these decisions are never an act of one individual and actions we take are always decided on as a team. Please remember to be kind to one another, especially on social media. Stay home, stay safe and keep an eye on communications as they come out.



[Original Article: 01/04/2020 12:30]

As of 11 am on Wednesday, 1 April 2020 the ‘Newcastle University: Introduce a ‘safety net’ mitigation system for summer assessments’ online petition, started by Abigail Darby (student at Newcastle University), reached over 6700 signatures (View Petition).

We as your representatives wanted to provide reassurance that we have taken action on this and that this something that we are currently pursuing with the University.

A COVID-19 Academic Group meeting was held on Monday, 30th March 2020 with Newcastle University Students’ Union’s President, Education Officer, and Postgraduate Officer; during this meeting, the introduction of a ‘safety net’ was highlighted as a prominent student concern and we expressed the strong student desire for this.

From this meeting there were 3 main conclusions:

1) This would be difficult for 55% of degree programmes, those that are accredited.
2) That this would most likely not be introduced for PG students, because many PG programs would not benefit from this due to the nature of dissertations, research, and field-based courses. 
3) That this was a decision that needed to be made urgently to keep students informed as we near exam season. 

Following this, all of your Sabbatical Officers brought this up with the Vice and Deputy Vice-Chancellor this morning. Whereby we urged them to urgently make a decision on this, as students' need to know what to expect when it comes to exam season. Please be assured that this is something we will continue to push and will keep you updated on as and when more information becomes available.

For any enquires, comments, or concerns, please email Pablo Charro de la Fuente (Education Officer) at education.union@newcastle.ac.uk. Or Karina Sorrels (Postgraduate Officer) at pg.union@newcastle.ac.uk.

Please keep safe and keep an eye on communications as they come out.


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