Info and updates related to the Covid-19 pandemic
We've created this page to keep you updated on the work that we’re doing to represent you in relation to Covid-19.
While the SU building remains closed, we are doing our best to continue to support students during this difficult time. You can still contact the Welcome Desk via email and phone as these will be answered remotely: email@example.com and 0207 717 251. You can also contact us via Skype on 020 3286 4668. From here you will be triarged to the appropriate person.
The SU Advice Service remains open, and you can access appointments via the online form on our website. However we will be conducting appointments digitally and we can only offer support in relation to academic appeals and complaints.
We will do our best to keep you updated on Covid-19 developments on this page and via our social media.
You can of course find updates from the University on their coronavirus information page. The latest healthcare and government advice can be found via Public Health England and World Health Organisation.
HOW ARE WE REPRESENTING YOU?
We're having regular meetings with our colleagues in the University through five Covid workstreams which were set up to strengthen Goldsmiths response to Covid-19. The SU’s own Covid-19 team also meet weekly to discuss and agree our next steps in response to the pandemic.
We welcome feedback from students. So far, this has been achieved through meetings with our Sabbatical Officers, student reps, SU social media, and online polls and student surveys such as this Instagram poll. This helps us know what to lobby the college on your behalf and work out our priorities, highlighted below.
IMPACT ON STUDENTS FROM SEPTEMBER/RE-OPENING OF CAMPUS AND THE SU
We’ve been working closely with colleagues across Goldsmiths to ensure that your return to campus is done safely. The College have now set out their plans for the next academic year, where there will be a mixed method of delivering courses. Practice based courses will remain in person. Other courses are likely to include predominantly online elements. You can read more here.
The current University preparations include:
- Adapting teaching so it can be delivered online and in-person and introducing new online learning tools
- Digitising 1,000s of chapters and readings for online access and introducing click and collect for borrowing print materials
- Installing hand sanitiser stations and sneeze screens across campus
- Rearranging teaching spaces to ensure social distancing
- Putting up new signs to help people move around campus safely
- Launching live chat with the Student Centre
- Developing support to help students access equipment including laptop
You can also find details of our guidelines around face masks and social distancing here.
EXAMS & ASSESSMENTS
Initial 2019-20 assessments results will be released between 29th June and 17th July for undergraduate students, and between 29th June and 7th August for postgraduate students. An email will be sent to the individuals Goldsmiths email address when your results are available to view on MyGoldsmiths.
The current situation with Covid-19 and the colleges new Exceptional Academic Regulations means that whilst the College is unable to confirm exact result release dates for specific programmes, it will be releasing results as and when they are ready, throughout the specified period, to ensure students receive them at the earliest possible opportunity. In some instances the result might be marked as ‘provisional’. If this is the case, your final result may be released after these dates. The calculation of module and degree results are in accordance with changes to the college Academic Regulations, which recognise the impact of Covid-19 on your studies.
Students can't make a formal stage 2 appeal about a provisional mark but you can raise issues informally with your department. There is some information about this here.
The SU Advice Service will be offering Zoom sessions for Undergraduate appeals between 29th June - 17th July. You can access information about that, via this link. Please also have a read of our appeal FAQs here.
TUITION FEE REFUNDS
We've received lots of enquiries about tuition fee refunds.
Goldsmiths University position: The UK Government Department for Education has made it clear that you should not expect any refund if you are receiving adequate online learning and support. However, if you don’t feel you are receiving this, you have recourse through the College Complaints Process.
The SU position: You can make a complaint over what you've experienced; but you cannot make a complaint about things that you anticipate you are going to experience. We have therefore put together a log that can be used to gather information about impact that could be used to make a complaint.
In terms of withholding fees, we would advise against this as it could result in the University not allowing you to progress into next year or withholding your results. It could also potentially put you at risk of debt collection processes. As a large percentage of students pay their tuition fees through student finance, the withholding of fees is unlikely to put significant pressure on the College.
We also fully support the NUS’ Student Safety Net Campaign which calls on the Government to issue reimbursements of fees or a debt write off, amongst other aims. For info about how to complain, have a read of this blog post we've put together.
The OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator - the independent student complaints scheme for England and Wales) have recently published some guidance, including an FAQs, which might be of interest.
Extenuating circumstances are normally short term, unforeseen and unpreventable events that significantly impact on your ability to study. Types of extenuating circumstances include serious medical conditions, trauma, bereavement, court attendance and caring responsibilities.
When Goldsmiths closed, we successfully lobbied the College to ensure that students no longer needed to provide medical evidence in order to self-certify during this period. We also demanded that the criteria for what was considered an extenuating circumstance was broadened. You can read more about the updated college extenuating services policy here.
On Wednesday 10th June, the college confirmed an update in relation to postgraduate taught students about new provisions being made in their Exceptional Academic Regulations regarding the calculation of final degree results. This was agreed to ensure further consideration is given to how final outcomes for postgraduate taught students are calculated fairly in light of the impact of the ongoing situation. Changes to the calculation of final degree outcomes will occur in addition to previous changes that students were told about. They have also made allowance in new regulations for the issuing of provisional awards in certain circumstances. You can read the full set of Exceptional Academic Regulations and more information regarding Assessment results online.
NO DETRIMENT POLICY
A no detriment policy acts as a ‘safety net’ to ensure students obtain at least their average grade so far in the year, or with a better grade depending on results in summer exams or assignments, so long as they secure at least 40%.
Effectively, the policy means that any assessment or exam taken during this period will not be detrimental to your current average before the lockdown.
After frequent correspondence and lobbying with the College, we are happy to announce the College has agreed to adopt a No Detriment Policy for all students. Please click here to read it.
We are still working with the College to ensure certain students such as disabled students who would have needed alternative adjustments to their upcoming assessments prior to Covid-19, and how the College and Departments are working to ensure this is resolved. (If you're a student with a disability at Goldsmiths, you might find this Q&A blog post useful. You can also contact the Wellbeing Service here and the Disability Service here).
STUDENT RENTERS & ACCOMMODATION (PRIVATE AND COLLEGE)
Unsurprisingly, the government has outlined very little housing protection for young people during a period of gross economic and social uncertainty. Landlords are merely encouraged to consider implementing rent reductions, and evictions have only been suspended for a three month period. Some students are being asked to choose between their health or shelter.
If you're in private rental accommodation and need support, have a read of our Q&A from the University of London Housing Services. We've also put together this blog post for those of you who are sorting out your living arrangements for the next academic year.
As an SU, we've lobbied the College Senior Management team to share what provision and support students are receiving. We are demanding a rent freeze for all students university accommodation. We've demanded the College terminate contracts for students who have had to return home and those having to self-isolate in halls. We've also lobbied locally and nationally to highlight the entrenched and new challenges Covid-19 has now on the student housing crisis. For example, we sent a letter to Vicky Foxcroft, MP for Lewisham (Deptford) and Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, requesting their support in putting pressure on landlords, government and the College to protect students, renters. You can read it here. Upon this letter, we met with Vicky Foxcroft, MP on (9th April), in order to discuss how she can help Goldsmiths students with the ongoing rent crisis students, are facing; putting pressure on the College to assist students who are subject to paying double rent.
We also support the demands of the London Renters Union 'Can't Pay, Won't Pay' campaign. You can read more about this here.
STUDENT HARDSHIP FUND
The socio-economic impact of the pandemic has negatively caused serious concerns for the welfare, security and survival of millions across the country.
We believed the College’s Student Hardship Fund - a significant and compulsory fund available to students facing hardship - should be revised to account for the unprecedented and existing financial hardship Covid-19 has created for students.
And in light of the current pandemic, the college has agreed to extend the application deadline and have made a number of changes to the fund:
- The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 5pm on Friday 31st July 2020
- International and EU students can now apply however they must be able to demonstrate how Covid-19 has had an impact on their finances.
- They will consider the specific needs of student parents, students with disabilities and students in emergency situations due to Covid -19.
- They are able to make faster payments to students in emergency situations
- They have made it easier to apply to the fund by simplifying the financial evidence requirements.
EMERGENCY LEARNING ACCESS EQUIPMENT
We know that working remotely has meant that students will not have access to the necessary equipment to complete projects or assessments.
We raised this with the College who introduced a new Covid-19 Online Learning Access Fund for students to strictly purchase any study equipment required to complete an assessment. While this has now officially closed, applications made before the deadline are still being processed and we are making the case for it to be reopened.
We know there are probably lots more things you need support with right now - some we will have answers for, others we might not, but we can certainly point you in the right direction! Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we'll do our best to help.