The University of Sheffield has listened to the demands of students, and introduced a no-detriment, ‘safety net’ policy for students during the coronavirus crisis.

It comes after nearly 6,500 people signed a petition calling on the University and Sheffield Students’ Union to do just that. This means that Sheffield University is now following in the footsteps of the University of Exeter, who introduced a similar policy a week ago.

In an email to all students, Vice-President for Education, Professor Wyn Morgan, said that implementing the policy is likely to be a complex task, and asked students to be patient as they worked through the details of the policy.

He added: “This means that no student who passes the year will receive an average mark or overall degree class lower than their current overall mark or degree class. Any summative assessment completed for the remainder of this academic year can only have a positive impact on your overall mark or degree class.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education at the University of Sheffield. (Image: University of Sheffield)

“I understand there has been a great deal of anxiety surrounding this, and I hope that this decision will help to alleviate some of the worries you will no doubt be feeling at the moment. We want to support you to achieve an award which accurately reflects your academic achievement.”

There is a chance that the no-detriment policy may not be applicable for students on programmes which are subject to professional regulations, but otherwise all undergraduate and postgraduate students, in all faculties, are included.

“We’re so happy to be able to announce that the University is going to be implementing a no-detriment, safety net policy,” a statement from the SU Officers said.

Read more: Nearly 1,000 Sheffield students sign petition calling for ‘safety net’ policy following COVID-19 pandemic

“You started this petition, and over 6,000 of you signed it. It’s an incredible piece of collective action for our student community. Together we made the University recognise the value of our student voice.

“Our Education Officer has been working with the University to ensure this is implemented in the best way to benefit you going into the future.

“Your Students’ Union will continue to defend your education and support you through this time. This is a real win for our student community and shows the incredible things we can do when we come together and fight for the issues that are important to us.”

The SU Officers released a statement praising the decision to introduce a ‘safety net’ policy for students, following students’ efforts in campaigning for one. (Image: Sheffield Students’ Union)

When the petition began last week, it saw a rapid increase in the number of people signing it, with nearly 1,000 signing it within the first six hours. They quickly secured a commitment from Students’ Union President Jake Verity, alongside the rest of the Officers, to fight for the University to introduce the policy, and it seems they’ve got their way.

Education Officer Charlie Porter also released a statement, saying this was a win for students, and praising their efforts in organising.

He said: “This is a huge win for our students at a time that has been incredibly uncertain. We think that this is the best way for our students to carry on with their academic studies in the current circumstances, whilst also ensuring they are not disadvantaged for factors beyond their control.

“It’s always good to see students organising around educational issues, and I’m very pleased that this has resulted in an outcome that works for everybody.”

A number of universities across the country have also brought in measures to ensure there is no detriment to their students during the ongoing global pandemic, including Exeter, the University of Southampton, the University of Hertfordshire, whilst Cambridge University has announced one for third-year undergraduate students, but not first or second years.

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