Lobbying for a No Detriment Policy

A message from your Sabbatical Officers

What a strange few weeks it has been! As you will have seen, we are now in our new normal of working from home and are continuing to represent you in meetings with the University.

As I am sure that you can appreciate, there is a whole range of issues and topics for us to be representing you on in these challenging times – we wanted to quickly touch on one of these issues in particular - the much-talked-about 'no detriment' policy.

What has happened so far?

In light of the current circumstances, a lot of necessary changes have been made over the last few weeks to the way your education is delivered and assessed.

In our meetings with the University, we have been advocating to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed. These are difficult times and you as students are now in completely different situations to a few weeks ago. Complications of time zone differences, lack of quiet spaces, lack of reliable internet, lack of access to resources, and different availabilities of IT equipment mean not every student has access to usable and desirable working conditions. We have lobbied to ensure these circumstances are taken into account in all of our meetings, but we need to do more to ensure no student is disadvantaged in their education by the current situation.

What is a ‘no detriment’ policy?

Over the last few days, we have seen that students on social media and via emails have been calling for a 'no detriment' policy to be introduced at Royal Holloway. Policies akin to this have been publicly declared by a handful of universities in the last month; they have been introduced in various forms, but all essentially provide a safeguard for students and reassurance that a final grade won’t be lower than the grade averaged throughout the year.

In essence, this means you cannot do worse than your current average grade. You have the opportunity to succeed and improve this grade through the future alternative assessments which are replacing traditional face-to-face exams, but you cannot be disadvantaged by this new way of assessing and your grade cannot fall below your current average.

What have we been doing?

Similarly to all the other issues, we have been discussing ways in which students can be protected from possibly unfair and unseen circumstances (which we think a global pandemic falls under!) with the University. For the past week, we have been relaying the need for students to be assured of their opportunity to succeed; this has included lobbying for a clear position from the University on these issues. Within these discussions, it is clear that the University are sympathetic to these concerns, and we have had constructive dialogue over this particular topic. An update will be announced within the wider information to be circulated by the University on Friday 3 April.

How can we work on this together?

Whilst these are challenging times for us all, and there are undoubtedly incredibly important questions and issues that never previously had to be considered, it is vitally important, more so than ever, that we approach these in unity.

From us, this means being as open as we possibly can with our lobbying efforts – obviously with some areas, we have to be careful around confidentiality and sensitivity. It is our duty, as your representatives, to reassure you that we are doing the appropriate work to lobby for your interests.

This also means that in order for us all to be effective in achieving our shared aims, we have to work together. As always, it is truly wonderful to see so many students interested in contributing to our collective efforts to improve student life at Royal Holloway, but we also need to ensure that this is effective.

Asking for a favour

This is why we, as the Officer team, are asking for a little favour from you all: please, before starting petitions and sending mass emails, please do come (virtually) and talk to us.

It may be that your cracking idea is something that we have started moving the wheels on or something that we can help to explain, and it is crucial that we tie these up.

Unfortunately, methods such as mass emails to numerous staff tend to slow things down more than anything else - with resources tied up in responding instead of working on the issue.

So please, work with us and help us help you.

Contact us

All of the Officer team can be contacted by email or via our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

Jack O'Neill (President) - president@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUPresident

Kate Roberts (VP Education) - vpeducation@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUEducation

Lucy Simpson (VP Welfare & Diversity) - vpwelfare@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUWelfare

Sophia Bolton (VP Societies & Media) - vpsocieties@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUSocs

Dom Brown (VP Sport) - vpsports@su.rhul.ac.uk / @RHSUSport