The Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, has written a letter to every student in the country to outline key areas of continuing support for students. Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Collop introduces this letter below and explains what DMU has been doing to fulfil the obligations set out by the UK government.
As we all know, we currently find ourselves in an unprecedented and very challenging situation with the outbreak of COVID-19. The significant restrictions to everyday life that have had to be imposed by the UK Government in response to this severe threat to public health have led to DMU’s move to online teaching and a required change in the support services that our students normally receive. As I’m sure you’re aware, it is the same picture right across the UK university sector.
In spite of the immense challenges, DMU continues to work hard to fulfil its obligations to its students and staff while at the same time ensuring compliance with the very necessary national restrictions imposed by the Government.
The Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, has written a letter to every student in the country – the letter can be viewed here. In it you will see she outlines certain key areas of continuing support for students and I wanted to highlight our work around each of these so that you are fully aware of what we are providing for our students and how we are fulfilling the obligations she sets out in her letter:
Accommodation and cleaning services
DMU has confirmed that any student in our halls of residence – Bede Hall and Waterway Gardens – will not have to pay any outstanding rent for their third university term. We have also written to all private providers encouraging them to make similar provision and we welcome the recent generous offers made by Unite and Student Roost.
DMU continues to provide a full cleaning service to its owned halls of accommodation, and this includes all common areas, including corridors and circulation areas, and all kitchens, bathrooms and toilet areas. We do not clean individual student bedrooms as this is the responsibility of the student.
This is the same in relation to our private nominated providers; again, if the rooms are en-suite, the bathroom/toilet will be cleaned by the student.
Our support in this area is focussed on our Hardship Fund which we have extended to support all students who have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19. Financial support will be available that will provide a contribution towards living costs for Home, EU and International students who are remaining in the UK during this period.
The fund is primarily aimed at supporting students who have been unable to work due to illness, self-isolation or the loss of work due to business closures. Students with other circumstances leading to hardship can contact one of our Welfare Officers via firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any further queries about this you can email email@example.com.
Teaching and Learning
In line with the latest measures announced by the Government, all teaching has been moved online and the campus is now closed apart from essential services. The vast majority of the university’s teaching, learning and assessment provision remains accessible to all our students through online and virtual channels. Module leaders are in direct contact with you about how you can access material through Blackboard.
In spite of the library closure, extensive online resources and chat-based support continue to be available. LinkedIn Learning is available to all DMU students providing access to over 15,000 video tutorials supporting learning in software, creative and business skills. In addition, Adobe has granted us temporary at-home access to the Creative Cloud suite.
We understand that some of you may disagree with our decisions and the changes we have had to make, but we are confident that the measures we have put in place in response to national restrictions will continue to provide our students with a high-quality education that helps equip them for the world of work. We are confident too that the arrangements for teaching, learning, assessment and exams for final-year students will meet national standards and help ensure that the qualifications they leave DMU with will have real value and reflect the hard work they have invested in their studies.
Student and Academic Services are currently operating all the usual services, but please note that the way in which we provide these services may change to make the most effective use of resources in the event of staff absence. Check out the COVID-19 microsite for the latest information on service provision.
It is important during these times to consider how to maintain your wellbeing, and we have produced a great deal of new material for the Healthy DMU hub which should help you to do this.
Look out for a series of new regular virtual Healthy DMU events focussed around areas like Mindfulness, Exercise and Music which will be starting from Monday 6 April.
Disabled Students, students with Mental Health Conditions and Autistic students who have DSA funded mentoring support funded through DSA will continue to receive this.
You may find you have more time on your hands than normal, and one way to beat the boredom is to engage in purposeful activity. Why not take the opportunity, for example, to contact the Careers and Employability Team and use the additional time you have on your hands to enhance your career prospects?
Students remaining in Leicester (if this is not your permanent address)
DMU has also actively been contacting students who are remaining in Leicester (excluding if this is their permanent address) so that we can remain in touch with them, signpost them to the available
support services, find out if there any specific requirements we may need to be aware of and to try, as best we can at the moment, to address.
(Please note that if you are remaining in Leicester [excluding if this is your permanent address] please go to the COVID-19 student form so that we can capture your details and keep in touch with you in the coming days and weeks. Any information will of course remain confidential in line with our responsibilities under GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. For more information about how we process your data please go to our Privacy Notice.)
We have also set up a Facebook Group especially for DMU students who will be remaining in Leicester. The group (COVID-19 UPDATES: Students staying on campus) is a place for you to find out all the latest advice and guidance, and receive regular updates. It’s also a place for you to chat to other students who remain at DMU, sharing your experiences and tips for dealing with the latest situation.
If you’re not on Facebook and prefer to receive information via email, don’t worry, you can contact us direct via email on: firstname.lastname@example.org
DMU is committed to the public good. Last year, its students and staff volunteered for a total of more than 20,000 hours in the community. DMU knows that many students will want to continue to work to help and support the wider community and to do so safely.
DMU is part of a city-wide initiative that is being co-ordinated by Voluntary Action Leicester (VAL) and through the City Mayor’s Office. DMU Local will take on responsibility for certain key projects and students can volunteer to participate in these. The types of opportunity are evolving as the crisis unfolds but examples will include helping those suffering with social isolation with a telephone call and a friendly voice, or delivering food to those self-isolating or being ‘shielded’ because they have an underlying health condition. To register your interest with DMU Local please use the form at MyGateway.
Like every other organisation and indeed household in the country, DMU is in uncharted territory. Central to everything we do, however, is the health and safety of our students and staff and ensuring that we all closely follow Government advice to stop the virus spreading so that our loved ones and the wider community remain safe and well.
DMU is proud that our students and staff have adapted so quickly to such a profound change to the way we teach, study and live our lives and proud of the way our students are playing their part in the national drive to protect public health.
Professor Andy Collop
Posted on Tuesday 31st March 2020