Over a month after its initial announcement, the University of Sheffield have announced details of the ‘no-detriment’ safety net policy, aimed at supporting students during the coronavirus crisis.

The policy was announced after over 7,500 people signed a petition calling on the University to work towards something like this, a call which was later backed by the Students’ Union and resulted in victory for the campaign.

However, now the specifics have been announced, the SU Officer team have expressed concern that a significant proportion of Postgraduate Taught students won’t have access to the policy.

Read more: University of Sheffield implement ‘safety net’ for students following coronavirus pandemic

For Level Two and Three students (second and third year), the overall grade for the year for each student won’t fall below their safety net, calculated either by an overall weighted average of marks for the year (so long as they completed 40 credits before Sunday 15 March 2020), or the previous academic year, whichever is higher.

If they hadn’t completed 40 credits by that date, the safety net will be based on an overall weighted average of grades from the student’s previous academic year.

The criteria for Postgraduate Taught students is similar, with the safety net based off grades so far this year (provided that they have completed 60 credits since the start of their course) or an average of the best 150 credits this academic year, whichever is higher.

If a student has completed less than 60 credits, it will instead just be based off their best 150 credits for the year.

Representatives from the Students’ Union told Forge Press they were concerned that a large number of Postgraduate Taught students wouldn’t have completed 60 credits before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the University campus, and that discussions between the SU and University were continuing.

In a statement, the SU Officers said: “We’re pleased that the safety-net policy introduced by the University will support Undergrads in their studies this year.

“However, the policy has undeniable flaws within its provisions for Postgraduate Taught (PGT) students and we are aware that many may not be able to access the safety net as promised.

“Our Education Officer is already in conversations with the University, outlining his concerns for how the safety-net policy may disadvantage many PGT students. As part of this we are collecting as much information from students as possible to feed back to the University.”

There are a number of caveats to the policy, also answered in the University’s announcements. Students who have been studying abroad, have been on placement this year or are a visiting student in Sheffield will have their situation considered on “a case by case basis” and they should contact their department with specific questions.

More information on the University’s full announcement can be found here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/assessment/safetynet

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