Coronavirus Weekly Update | April 17th
An update from the GUSRC Executive on what they have been doing to represent and support students during the coronavirus crisis.
Hello Team UofG,
We hope you have been safe and well since our last update.
We don’t have as much to tell you this week, however, you can be assured that aside from a few days off for the Easter weekend to rest and recuperate our team have continued to work on your behalf to ensure that you are supported and represented during these difficult times. There is no denying that the COVID-19 situation in the UK has worsened recently and now that the lockdown has been extended for another 3 weeks it is clear that we aren’t through the woods just yet.
However, with that being said, things are not totally bleak. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of positivity, creativity and strength from all of the students, staff and faculty members at this great University. From the final year nurses and doctors who are volunteering on the frontline against the virus, to the many stories we have received about the acts of viral kindness in our communities: the way that you are all pulling together to get through this is a source of hope during these dark times.
Below you’ll find a short summary of the issues relevant to you that we have been working on. This is in addition to the continued operation of our key services: The Advice Centre which provides free and impartial advice to UofG students on a range of issues, GU Volunteering who have been linking students to a variety of worthy initiatives still running during lockdown, as well as our administration and communications teams who have been supporting all of the work we do, keeping you informed, and looking ahead to plan for when this is over.
Summary of Issues:
No Detriment Policy
An email should have been sent to you on 09.04.20 which will have explained the No Detriment Policy in further detail. The main area of concern from some students right now seems to relate to confusion associated with differences in messaging about the policy from the University’s various Schools. We have flagged this to the University and know that many Schools are still in the process of figuring out the implementation of the policy and what it means for their students. We believe over the coming period Schools will continue to address and communicate the No Detriment policy with students, and we will try to monitor areas where any issues persist.
Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)
We are continuing to work and address enquiries regarding issues with PBSA providers as we received an influx of additional enquiries from students following our first update over a week ago. We are currently developing a plan of action to further lobby the providers who are not adjusting what they are doing for students, and we have managed to make headway with some of the providers supplying our students in the West End of the city.
We know there is a lot of uncertainty regarding funding situations and extensions for PGR students. We are maintaining a dialogue with the UofG VP Research Chris Pearce regarding PGR students. We know a lot of movement will be made over the next few weeks, with UKRI only last week announcing extensions and support for UKRI-funded PhD students. We have made clear to the University what the issues and areas of uncertainty are for PGR students at the moment, and are confident that the relevant staff and faculty members are in the process of addressing the various issues. We will of course continue to liaise and put pressure on areas of concern as we understand them over the next few weeks.
We have been in contact with the Disability Service to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are met for any upcoming assessments and to ensure that the exam diet is inclusive and accessible for all. We have been assured that by allowing either 24 hours or double the time required to complete an exam paper, the need for individual adjustments has been removed. If a student has complex support needs, for whom additional time on top of that already provided may need to be considered, students should speak to their Disability Advisor for more information.
After discussing with the School of Nursing about the requirement for some students to move out of their current homes, due to living with vulnerable people and soon to be entering paid positions in the ongoing work against coronavirus, we have confirmed one flat is already available if required for students to move into. The School are also looking at future provisions utilising empty flats if the requirement is there.
Concerns were raised about student carers whose responsibilities have now in many cases increased due to the current situation, and whether it was a fair condition for them to do exams at home with the possibility of multiple other responsibilities and distractions present. Through the work on the No Detriment policy, Good Cause scheme, and working with University Widening Participation most concerns have been decreased by the availability of the safety net these have created.
De-stress at a Distance
We are continuing with our “De-stress at a Distance” campaign, with different digital activities going up: from mindfulness meditation to facemask tutorials to Zoomba, and also some little messages from council members and your fellow students. We will continue to be releasing this content in the coming weeks with new ideas and hope to reach out and provide some light-hearted distractions where we can. If you have some fun de-stress content please reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Today the University and Scott (President) held a Q&A live on Facebook to address various aspects of Coronavirus and what the University is doing in response to it. The video can be found here and hopefully will be a source of clarity as a number of topics were covered including: No Detriment policy, Housing, PGR funding, Student Support, Financial Aid and Graduations.
We will continue to keep you updated as we work on the issues that are most important to you. As always our Advice Centre staff are working to provide guidance and support on a range of issues – you can contact them via email@example.com or check out their Coronavirus advice page.
Stay safe, stay connected and take it easy – for those of you taking exams in the upcoming diet, good luck with your preparation and revision wherever you are.
Scott, Kirsty, Liam and Tom