How we got the safety net for 2020/2021 - a timeline.
3rd December, University Student Voice Committee
Whilst it had been alluded to before in previous meetings, in this meeting I specifically ask if there will be a safety net for 2021, if it will be the same as last year’s, and if not, when will this be communicated to students. I am told by the Pro-Vice Chancellor that there are no plans for similar plans, which I state I think is wrong, and I make this clear to the Pro-Vice Chancellor.
8th December, Education Committee
As there were students in attendance of USVC, some students are now aware last year’s safety net policy won’t apply again this year, and I raise this at the Education Committee and ask for a statement from the university to go out to students that clarify this. I also raised that the SU may be mandated in either our Annual General Meeting in December, or the Union General Meeting in February, to lobby for a safety net policy.
16th December, Education Committee
I refer to my comments from the 8th December meeting again in my report, after my request for a university statement was ignored. Once again, I make it clear that the next UGM will see the SU mandated to lobby for a safety net policy.
5th January, Student Voice Rep Meeting
In a meeting led by Student Voice Representatives, I help co-write a letter to the Vice Chancellor about the need for a safety net policy. This is sent on the 8th January.
12th January, NUS ‘Students Deserve Better’ Organising Call
Officers across the country meet to share our respective university’s approaches and determine how we can lobby our own universities and what we should ask for. Most universities are asking for lenient resit polices rather than a true safety net, but York is offering an algorithm-based safety net – something that Keele had previously argued would affect ‘degree integrity’. Now that a Russell Group University is using this approach, there is far more reason to ask for this at Keele.
12th January, Education Committee
Other universities across the country are now rolling out either safety net or no-detriment policies, including Sheffield, Brighton, and – as noted above – York. Keele students are increasingly concerned about the need for a similar policy here. While I understand that we may not be able to offer the same policy as last year, it is increasingly clear we need to do something and make this clear in my report to Education Committee. The KPA Vice-President Elisia Narbett also made the need for Post Graduate Taught programmes to be recognised clear.
I also explain the details of the open letter SVRs sent on the 8th January, which received a reply from the Vice Chancellor on the 11th. This reply stated that the university would reply to the SVR’s letter by the 15th January, so I ask what they were saying in response to the letter.
Having had the Organising Call earlier today, I pitch the York model to the committee who were previously unaware of it. The idea was well received, but they instead favoured the ‘uncapped reassessment for anyone’ model; this wasn’t ideal but seemed like the best we could do.
13th January, Education Committee Teams Channel
Meetings with Heads of Schools take place without student representatives present where it is realised that there is widespread opposition for the ‘uncapped reassessment for anyone’ approach, as it could lead to a significant increase in both staff and student workload.
Following on from this, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Helen O’Sullivan, and Dean of Education for the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Katie Szkornik, both show enthusiasm for the York policy, after I raise it after my group call the previous day.
However they later meet with Student records who oppose the York policy, claiming it would not be suitable to apply at Keele.
So instead of re-opening discussions, they instead suggest allowing uncapped reassessment, but now only for students who fail their assessments. Without any student representatives present, the university have backtracked and defaulted to their original plan. Having intended to be on annual leave both today and the 15th, I now meet with the KPA Vice-President and discuss our disapproval of these decisions.
14th January, Vice Chancellor Email
I write an email with the KPA Vice-President, expressing our disappointment in these developments and warning that both the SU and the KPA would be publicly opposing this approach. This email is sent to the Vice Chancellor and University Executive Committee, who are the highest-level body assisting the VC in managing the university.
15th January, Vice Chancellor Email
In response to the email we sent, the Vice Chancellor’s Office decides the issue of uncapped reassessment requires further discussion, and that they will discuss holding an emergency Senate meeting (the highest-level body that decides on Educational matters at Keele). Instead, an email will go out to all students setting out the support measures available to students, but without a final decision on uncapped reassessments, which is excellent news.
20th January, Senate Email
All Senate members receive an email confirming an emergency Senate meeting would take place on the 3rd February.
26th January, Senate Draft Proposal
The first draft of the Senate Proposal on Safety Net measures goes out, and I make some amendments to the wording and queried some areas omitted from the paper.
26th January, Humanities Faculty Education Committee
At the first FEC (of 3) to look at the Senate papers, we discuss the need for ‘where appropriate’ to be clarified in one of the Safety Net measures. Some academics think this is too strong a proposal, and some think it is too weak...
27th January, Education Committee
We modify and clarified the language of the proposal slightly, which is then shared with senators.
28th January, Medicine and Health Science FEC
We confirm the policy could apply to students from this faculty – which is great news, as this had not always been the case with the 2020 policy.
29th January, Natural Sciences FEC
The Foundation Year approach is discussed, and we discover the Vet School will require a different approach due to being an accredited course, and the need for a unified approach between Harper Adams and Keele (who co-run the Vet School), as Harper is not currently offering a safety net. We discuss this with Harper Adams Elected Officers afterwards and agree to meet on Tuesday.
1st February, Union General Meeting
Annoyingly, I had to give my Officer update before the policy had gone to Senate, meaning I couldn’t tell any of you about the proposals existence or the amount of work we had put into it!
2nd February, Harper-Keele SU Officers meeting
I catch up with Harper Adams officers, and we confirm the communication plans for Vet School students.
3rd February, Senate
We make a few final wording changes to the paper, but the Safety Net Policy is passed by Senate, just over two months after University Student Voice Committee told us ‘there are no plans for similar changes to the regulations for 2021’ and we made clear our opposition to this. Because of the combined efforts of the Students’ Union, NUS, Voice Reps and the KPA, students now have a safety net for 2021!
10th February, we add to the university's FAQ pages
On the 10th the KPA Vice-President and I add commentary and recommended extra clarifications to the university’s FAQ pages, which will go live when the VC update is sent.
12th February, the announcement!
Which brings us to today, the 12th of February when the policy was finally announced.