National lockdown: a statement from your Sabbatical Officers image

As we enter our third lockdown, we wanted to give you an update about how we are continuing to represent you and your interests during these challenging times. We know that many of you are angry, upset, worried and anxious following the latest announcement and that this academic year has been incredibly hard for all Bath Spa students. 

We see you, we hear you and we support you. 

We support your calls for ‘no detriment’  

We are aware of the petition and the open letter that has been created by students which makes a number of demands including the re-implementation of the ‘no detriment’ policy. We are in contact with the students who have created the campaign and we would encourage you to sign the petition and open letter.

Since summer 2020, and especially since the second lockdown, we have been pushing the University to provide additional support and implement an alternative ‘no detriment’ policy.

The University introduced a ‘no detriment’ policy in March 2020 as students had completed some work in 2019/20 under ‘normal’ circumstances and a grade average could be calculated. This is not possible for 2020/21, particularly for first year undergraduates and postgraduate taught students who have no official marks yet, and therefore an identical ‘no detriment’ policy is not going to work this time. 

We appreciate the University made changes to courses and assessments for this academic year which take into account the current circumstances and have removed the need for third party evidence in order to apply for mitigating circumstances. And we particularly welcome their latest commitment to reviewing module results at upcoming assessment boards to check attainment against previous cohorts and adjusting marks if needed. 

However, we believe the University needs to go further and to recognise the impact that the ongoing pandemic and associated uncertainty is having on your mental health, your motivation and your ability to complete assessments to the best of your ability. We know that many of you are unable to access the resources and facilities you need and that you may not have appropriate study space and may have additional caring responsibilities now too. We believe the University needs to provide additional support now which could include blanket extensions, uncapped resits and ensuring there is no assessment bunching. 

We are supporting your Course Reps as they discuss these issues with academic staff in Schools. We would encourage you to continue providing feedback to your Course Reps so they can raise your concerns. If you are an undergraduate student, you can find out who your Course Rep is here. If you are a postgraduate student, you can find your Senior Academic Rep here

We know postgraduate research students face different challenges when it comes to academic work and we will continue to ask questions regarding the additional support you are receiving in order to complete your research.

Ensuring you have the additional support at this time is our highest priority right now and we will continue to raise these issues at University meetings and to lobby the University’s senior management team to make the changes all Bath Spa students deserve. 

We support your calls for rent rebates

As a result of the ever-changing guidelines, many of you are paying for accommodation which you are not currently living in. This is unacceptable.  

Whilst we understand the financial pressures the University is currently facing, we do not believe students should carry this burden. Students living in University accommodation should be offered refunds for the period of time they have been asked by Government to remain at home/their non term-time address and to be released from contracts with no penalty. We believe this should also apply to students living in Unite halls and in private sector accommodation. We understand for smaller universities such as Bath Spa this may be difficult financially and we believe additional Government funding should be provided to support this. 

We will lobby the University, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Unite Students, private landlords and MPs on this issue. 

We support your calls for additional financial support 

We appreciate the University increased the funds available in their Hardship Fund and created the Laptop Fund but we know that many of you are still experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and we believe you deserve additional support.

We are pleased to say that from next week, the University is introducing a new financial support scheme using some additional Government funding. The scheme will help students who are struggling due to the pandemic, including not being able to afford to pay their rent. We understand that this won’t be enough for some of you but it is a first step and we will continue to lobby the University and the Government for more support going forward.

We will continue to lobby nationally 

Before Christmas, Emily wrote to local Members of Parliament; North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse and Chippenham MP and Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan, expressing concerns about the impact of the pandemic on Bath Spa students and how you are being ignored by Government. They can be read here

Since sending these letters, Emily has been contacted by Wera Hobhouse and we will be meeting with her on Friday 15 January to discuss further. 

We are also continuing to work with the National Union of Students who are lobbying the Government on the many issues students across the country are facing. You can find out more about their work and sign their petition here

We would also encourage you to write directly to your MP in Bath and at your non term-time address if you have one, and let them know about your current experience. We believe the Government needs to step in and support universities during this crisis. Students deserve better.

Wellbeing support available  

Your Students’ Union Advice Centre offers free, confidential advice and support. Please email [email protected] for general wellbeing support, help with academic issues, housing queries, sexual health advice or if you would just like someone to talk to. Or you can join our weekly online drop-ins every Wednesday anytime between 1pm and 4pm. More information is here.

You can also contact the University’s Student Wellbeing Services for mental health, money and wellbeing support at [email protected].

Please get in touch so that we can fight for you   

We understand you may be frustrated that change isn’t happening fast enough. However, we and the University find out about Government announcements at the same time as you. We are reacting as quickly as possible and are working hard to represent you but we can’t change things overnight, especially whilst the pandemic continues to be so unpredictable as we have witnessed these past couple of weeks.

If you have any questions or comments or if there are any other concerns you would like us to raise with the University, NUS or MPs, please get in touch or post on Unitu. The more we know about your experiences, the better we can represent you.

Emily, Ceri, Meg and Jack

Your Sabbatical Officer Team