Weekly Update – January 22nd 2021
An update from the GUSRC Executive on what we are doing to represent and support students.
University of Glasgow students,
Week 2 draws to a close and with it we see the days in Glasgow getting slightly warmer, slightly longer and as vaccines across the UK continue to be distributed, we can start to see light at the end of the tunnel.
This week the SRC has continued to work on your behalf on a number of issues: from pushing for greater academic support, to protecting your access to rent rebates in University Halls and pushing for private providers to adopt similar policies, to supporting pioneering student initiatives in the fight against climate change such as the Green New Deal. As always there is a fair bit to unpack in this post, but we hope you find it useful as a reminder that we are here to support and represent you.
In order to do our jobs effectively we need to hear what issues are affecting students, so please do reach out to your Class Reps, your School Reps, to us – the Executive Officers – or our staff team so that we can work together to solve the issues that students face. There is a list of contacts at the end of the post.
Below is a summary of the issues we are currently working on, plus a few upcoming projects and activities to be aware of.
Summary of issues:
24 Hour Exams
We have been pushing for all exams across the board to be 24 hours as we recognise the benefits this would have for all students, but where there appear to be real barriers to implementing this we have argued for at least double time.
We recognise there are concerns around double time from students on quantitative subjects such as Maths & Stats and Physics & Astronomy. We have raised these concerns with the University and we are looking at what would be most appropriate here. We are also in contact with the Disability Service to ensure provisions are made for those who need them on top of the extra time.
As with all assessments, exams can vary greatly across different Schools and year groups, but please be assured that we are doing all we can to push the University to find solutions that are supportive for all students.
Further Academic Support
As we know that students would greatly benefit from some reassurance and recognition that they are working in an extremely difficult time, we met with the Vice Principal (Learning & Teaching) and the Deans of Learning & Teaching from each College to discuss support measures that Schools can put in place as soon as possible.
We used student responses gathered from our COVID Experiences Survey (now closed) to make suggestions to the University about what additional measures might be helpful. Some of the points that we discussed were around:
- investigating any potential for flexibility in deadlines and workload,
- looking into a cap on the maximum duration of a single session of synchronous online teaching (as some evidence suggests there are classes that can take up 3 hours on Zoom),
- increasing reach out to students who would like to be contacted and making sure this includes students wherever they are in the world
- making sure no student is assessed on materials that are not fully available online due to the limited availability of physical resources.
We will continue these conversations with the University and keep you updated. Please reach out to your Class Reps, School Reps and College Convenors for more localised updates (academic rep contact details can be found here).
Academic Support Policy Group
We have started attending a weekly policy group meeting with (the Clerk of Senate) as well as Senate Office staff. This is to work on the Academic Support policy that the University will be introducing. We hope that there will be information released soon on some of the less complex issues to respond to such as extensions and greater flexibility with deadlines. We will continue to push for greater support and a policy that is fair to all students.
We had a catch-up with the Vice Principal (Research) and Head of Research Policy to discuss PGR students. We discussed progression and further guidance will be given on Annual Progress Reviews. We also discussed stipend extensions with the next round happening currently taking place.
If a PGR student, or any student, is facing financial difficulties, please be aware of the University Hardship Fund. We would particularly recommend accessing the FAQs for PGRs and would suggest getting in touch with your representative College Convenors if you are having any issues you would like us to be aware of or raise (contact link for academic reps).
At our latest COVID Task Group meeting we raised to David Duncan, the University Chief Operating Officer (COO), that we had some concerns about the University’s recent communication regarding rent rebates.
The communication stated that students would only receive a rebate if they returned after a set date – contrary to their original position which stated students returning after January 4th would receive a rebate. As this new stance does not take into account students who have already booked travel back to their halls and may be relying on the rebate, we are pushing for the University to revert to its original position on this matter.
We will keep you updated on this, and we are also continuing work to encourage private accommodation providers to adopt similar policies to ease the strain on students’ finances.
Student Experience Committee
The SRC President is the co-chair of the Student Experience Committee alongside the Chief Operating Officer of the University, David Duncan. The most recent meeting focused on the committee’s rolling action plan and we received updates regarding a number of important issues including:
- student hardship and financial issues,
- mental health and wellbeing
- and Careers Service support.
We are pushing the University to make it clearer to students how they can access Student Support. This may include editing the layout of some of the University web pages. View the University Support pages here.
Last night we held our 4th Council Meeting of the academic year. We discussed the reports of each of the Executive Officers, Academic Reps, Welfare & Equal Opportunities Reps and General Reps. Some of the key issues discussed were around academic support provisions, the continuing impact of COVID on student life, and the council also voted on supporting the Green New Deal (see below) plus elected a representative to the University Race Equality Committee.
Green New Deal
One of the key matters discussed at the Council Meeting was the Green New Deal. This is a student-led initiative which calls on the University to go above and beyond their existing Climate Change Strategy. The proposal touches on a number of areas of the University’s operations including travel & transport, food, buildings & infrastructure and many more. The Council voted to support the Green New Deal and we will aim to assist in publicising the proposal to the wider student community. You can read the current document here, and the Green New Deal Coalition also have a Facebook page.
Refreshers / The Digital Welcome
Today concluded two weeks of Refreshers events to welcome students back to the University. It has been great to see both new and existing students come along and welcome everyone into the UofG community.
The fun doesn’t end with Refreshers however, as we have finished off by launching an exciting virtual platform called The Digital Welcome. This platform will give you the chance to interact with clubs and societies, as well as explore a range of opportunities and offers from some brands, businesses and charities including alternative internships, and mental health support tips.
The platform will be live for one week only and you can access it on your desktop or phone: https://glasgowstudent.thedigitalwelcome.co/
Don’t forget that the Spring Elections 2021 are coming up very soon. Nominations for these open on February 8th (closing February 19th) and voting will take place on March 3rd and 4th. Please look out for more information on these elections next week!
LGBTQ+ History Month
Planning is underway for our LGBTQ+ History Month program, including having put out a call to any of our University of Glasgow clubs and societies who would like to get involved. LGBTQ+ History Month will run throughout February. If anyone has an interest in contributing to the activities, do get in touch with our LGBTQ+ Equality Officer via email (email@example.com)
Volunteering and Social Justice Fair
Coming up on February 3rd, 4th and 5th we have the GU Volunteering and Social Justice Festival. This virtual festival will give you the chance to listen to and interact with some of GU Volunteering’s fantastic charity partners, each of whom have different and varied volunteering opportunities available. The event will consist of a mix of recorded video content and Zoom presentations / Q&As and tickets for it will go live on Native next week – watch out on our Facebook page and GU Volunteering’s page for updates – and be sure to check it out if you want to leave Glasgow with more than a degree.
Although we are working off campus, our staff and officers are still very much here to support you so please do get in touch.
Advice Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org
General Enquiries: email@example.com
Council Member Contacts: https://www.glasgowstudent.net/about/representation/council/
Take care and stay safe,
Liam, Amy, Ella and Grigoris
This update was released Friday 22nd January. The next update will be on Friday 29th January.