Thousands of students have called for an Aberdeen University U-turn over proposals for a Covid ‘safety net’.
Adopted by a number of institutions across the UK, a no detriment policy (NDP) would ensure that students’ grades are protected from the negative impacts of the pandemic.
But the north-east university’s senate, which is responsible for academic matters relating to teaching and research, decided against the proposal back in February.
It was a move that drove about 2,000 students and others to sign an online petition, contesting the decision and begging university bosses to reconsider.
The proposal will be considered by the university senate for a second time on March 17.
Ondrej Kučerák, Aberdeen University Student Association (AUSA) vice president for education, said: “It is not too late for senate to make the right decision to pass the new policy and make it clear to all students that the university staff cares about them and wants to support them.”
The student body is hopeful of more flexibility in calculating final grades and giving markers the chance to take the effects of the virus on student work into account.
Mr Kučerák believes the initial decision not to adopt such a policy gave the impression the university “didn’t care about the conditions and barriers” students have had to overcome to achieve their grades.
He added: “Our students have been loud and clear about a need for a strong no detriment policy
“All student leaders believe there is a clear need for this policy.”
Students at the institution and others across the country have had to contend with an unprecedented year of challenges.
Disruption to studies caused by the virus has been commonplace, while outbreaks in halls of residence and the need to study remotely has for some been a daily struggle.
Chairwoman of the students for an NDP, Natalie Campbell said: “It is extremely important to me that the senate passes the no detriment policy on Wednesday, not just for myself as a final year student, but for all the students who have been struggling to cope with the disruption the pandemic has caused.”
Ms Campbell is currently in her fourth year studying creative English at the university and said she has been “inundated” by students concerned about their grades and looking to share their experiences.
She added: “Everyone has had to face something different, from students experiencing serious mental health problems to financial difficulties, roles as keyworkers and studying from different time zones.
“I hope the senate will consider the NDP compassionately and with empathy for all of us who are studying in less than ideal circumstances.”
After being contacted by a number of students himself regarding the issue, Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart added: “We need to support people at what has undoubtedly been a very challenging time for students and having met with those leading the campaign.
“I’ve written to the principal to ask that such a policy is considered.”
A university spokesman said: “The university is committed to fair and consistent assessment and throughout the pandemic we have actively prioritised the well-being of our students.
“We have consulted extensively with our academic body and student association to develop ‘Comprehensive Measures for Fair and Consistent Assessment in the Context of Covid-19’.
“The proposal will be brought back to senate for formal discussion on March 17.”