Coronavirus Weekly Update | April 3rd
An update from the GUSRC Executive on what they have been doing to represent and support students during the coronavirus crisis.
See our latest update on what we have been doing for you below, or watch it as a video version.
We also did a live stream on 08.04 which should answer some of your coronavirus questions – view it here.
University of Glasgow students,
The last few weeks have seen more upheaval and change than Universities have faced for a generation.
Through the recent period, the SRC have been working hard to make sure you are represented and to ensure that the issues relevant to students have been tackled and addressed quickly. Over the next few weeks we will keep you updated on a weekly basis to let you know what we have been doing to protect your interests and how we’ve responded to student feedback. We’ll be doing this via a blog here on our website, plus videos on our social media.
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues and the UK gears up to fight it, the SRC are trying all we can to ensure the decisions being made are the best they can be, whilst weighing up the mix of issues and opinions that we are receiving through our various channels.
Below you can find a summary of the issues we have been working on, on your behalf, including in the areas of graduations, the move to online teaching and assessment, the operation of the library, University and Private Student accommodation providers, student support and financial hardship.
We have been working intensely behind the scenes to ensure the student voice is part of every decision and issue facing us. We apologise for not communicating this to you all sooner and we will endeavour to do so on a more regular basis from now on.
Summary of issues:
- Virtual teaching – As government advice swiftly changed and social distancing became more common place, we were involved in discussions to stop face-to-face teaching to ensure the safety of students and staff.
- Move to online – the SRC were involved early on in discussions around making the move to online assessments and exams, and were directly consulted on during this decision. For clubs & societies, affiliations and AGMs are also now available online – a guide to doing online AGMs can be found here.
- Library – We worked with the University to try and ensure some kind of service was available for those who really needed access to materials or computers prior to the decision to close the Library being taken. Unfortunately, as guidance changed across the country for non-essential services to shut, the library inevitably closed. We have received guarantees from the library that students should not worry about their library fines, or about their library loans – these have been extended. As the Executive Director of Information Services told us – “these small problems should not be things students are worrying about right now, so hopefully you won’t have to”.
- University accommodation – We lobbied the University to ensure students have the opportunity to leave their contracts and residences in order to get home. As of last week, students will be able to hand in their notice to leave (the notice period sits at 28 days, equivalent to that of a HMO). Furthermore, as students leave residences, we have made it clear to the University that students remaining in Accommodation need dedicated pastoral support, and further down the line consideration should be given to allow students to move flats in order to combat isolation (only in line with NHS guidelines).
- Private accommodation – We have been working nationally and locally to lobby for Private accommodation providers (or Purpose Built Student Accommodation / PBSA) to allow students to leave their contracts, as many students are currently locked into contracts and are hostage to this situation. Currently Unite, Liberty and Student Roost have nationally come out to say they will be allowing students to leave, but we have a lot of work still to do to lobby the many providers that house our students around Glasgow, whom we have already sent letters to. If you are being locked into a contract with a Private Accommodation provider, please get in touch with the Advice Centre to let us know.
- Student support – We are working and liaising constantly with the central student support services to make sure that the service provisions students will need are made available, especially at such an anxious and stressful time. We know that the Clinical and Psychological Services (CaPS) have pivoted to online appointments and that the Disability Service are dealing with a number of enquiries around provisions for the upcoming exam diet. We will keep you informed about other changes to the services once they come in.
- Financial hardship – With the loss of job income and the possibility of many students falling into financial hardship, we have worked with the University to make sure funds have been put in place to help aid students that need it. Crisis Grants for up to £500 have been implemented and the criteria for the Hardship Fund (for students requiring more than £500) has been relaxed in order to provide easier access to financial support for those that need it as a result of COVID-19.
- Graduations – We discussed with the University to make sure that consideration is made to give students the opportunity at a later date to have that graduation ceremony that everyone worked so hard for. We appreciate that missing your graduation ceremony is really disappointing and we’ll work to ensure that the postponed ceremonies will be just as jubilant as they would have been this Summer.
- Assessments & exams – We are aware of the variety of active petitions that have been directed at aspects of the upcoming assessments & exam diet. We are constantly pushing for movement on these issues, in particular around good cause and the ‘help not hinder’ approach. This has resulted in the development of a No-detriment policy which we are currently consulting on and expect to be published within the coming days.
Right now the future does not look like it should, with many celebratory events cancelled, with catch ups, social events and parties with friends a distant possibility. This pandemic has halted the plans and celebrations of many, which is incredibly difficult, however by pulling together and staying connected we can get through this.
Check in with people around you, support your friends, your family. Use Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat – whatever it is you use, make sure to keep up with your friends and family wherever you are quarantining.
We are so proud that behind the scenes our UofG staff and students are working tirelessly in their capacities to help the national fight against Coronavirus, from the final year medics who are volunteering to work on the front line, to the researchers and staff members donating their services and labs to helping the NHS.
Through all of this, the SRC team will be working to try and maintain some kind of normality by keeping up with our De-stress at a Distance campaign, as well as our newly launched Virtual Conversation Cafés, and our Viral Kindness campaign. As well as this all of the sabbatical officers will be sharing regular updates via the GUSRC Instagram story to show you how we are coping with isolation, and we have other fun content on the way from our council members.
We also have an SRC Facebook Live Q&A planned over the next week or so where you can let us know what issues you want us to raise with the University. On top of that, we plan to host a Q&A with the Principal himself, as a way of gaining clarity on the issues that you want to ask about. Keep an eye on your email inboxes for more information about this.
As always our Advice Centre team are on hand to try and assist you in a range of matters from housing to finance, exams and more. They have put together a handy web-page of advice pertaining to issues arising from this pandemic, and are contactable by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Although our building may be closed, the majority of our staff are still working away at home to support you: be that in our volunteering service, Advice Centre, admin staff or communications team.
This is a difficult time for everyone, but will we get through this together. We will carry on working throughout this crisis to try and ensure the best possible situation for students here at Glasgow. When all of this all over, we look forward to seeing the campus come alive once more, and we can all get back to life as we once knew it. Until then, stay safe and look after each other.
Take care and all the best,
Scott, Kirsty, Liam and Tom