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15 January: Claiming rebate on accommodation, Government hardship fund, AV Loans reopening, IT Access Hardship Scheme, student consultation on academic calendar, exams and hardship fund

Following an important update earlier this week (12 January) on a range of key issues facing students during this latest national lockdown, we can now provide further information on some pressing matters. We want to thank everyone again for your continued understanding and patience as we continue to work hard to find fair and practical solutions.

We would encourage you to read the whole update carefully. It covers the following topics:

  • Claiming rebate on accommodation
  • Government hardship fund
  • AV Loans reopening
  • IT access hardship scheme
  • No-detriment/safety-net policy
  • Exams and assessments
  • Student consultation on Covid mitigations for this academic year
  • Plans for future return of students

Claiming rebate on accommodation

Earlier in the week we announced a 100% rent rebate from 11 January until national lockdown ends for all students in DMU halls (Bede Hall, Waterway Gardens and New Wharf Halls) who are not able to come back on to campus and use their university accommodation. If this applies to you, please ensure you claim your rent rebate by the deadline of 5pm Monday 25 January 2021. You can find the full details on how to apply and the eligibility criteria on the rebate information page.

Also, because many of our students live in accommodation owned and managed by external parties, we are in the process of writing to all private providers encouraging them to make similar provisions. But, please note, that we cannot force them to adopt such a policy, given that the contract is between the student and private provider. However, we can urge those providers to follow our example and we are doing that actively. Other providers operating in Leicester, such as Student Roost and iQ Student Accommodation, have also announced full rent rebates for a six week period of lockdown, subject to meeting conditions, please check their websites for full details, and we are confident others will follow suit. And, Universities UK, of which we are a member, continues to lobby government for intervention with private providers.

Government hardship fund

We know that some students may have been financially impacted throughout the pandemic, experiencing difficulty supplementing their income in the current job market and struggling with living costs. We want to make sure they are fully supported at this time and to help with this, the Government and Office for Students (OFS) has provided money for us to administer a hardship fund. This will help students with a small contribution towards living costs. Please check your eligibility for this fund along with details on the Covid impact hardship fund page.

You can also apply to the DMU Support Fund. DMU is donating extra monies to this fund - find out more information and what you may be eligible for with the DMU Support Fund.

AV Loans re-opens on campus

 We’re pleased to announce that AV Loans has reopened for those students who are permitted to be back on campus (other students should not be commuting in to use the service). The counter opening hours in the Portland Building (Room 00.27) are 10.30am-2.30pm Monday to Friday for pre-booked equipment only (but we will be reviewing opening hours based on demand). Also, any use of DMU owned equipment should be in line with the latest lockdown rules. Visit the AV Loans webpage for more information, alternatively, you can email general enquiries to avloans@dmu.ac.uk or call +44 (0) 116 2577460.

IT access hardship scheme

For students unable to access campus to use IT equipment and facilities that are crucial for your studies, you can apply to our IT access hardship scheme. All you need to do is fill in this application form to be considered for support (see our guidance on eligibility). If you have any questions or queries about this process you can contact the ITMS Service Desk through email at itmsservicedesk@dmu.ac.uk or by calling +44 (0)116 250 6050. Please also check out the Your DMU Future website for lots of advice, resources and support for blended or online-only learning. This includes access to Your DMU Labs (virtual), Your DMU IT Handbook and Library and Learning online services.

No-detriment/safety-net policy

Following on from Tuesday’s update on where we are with developing a no-detriment/safety-net policy for this academic year to mitigate the disruption brought by this latest lockdown disruption, we continue to work on the best and fairest way forward. The situation is very different to last year when we first announced a no-detriment policy and brings new complexities and considerations to deal with. For example, there will be students who have now had two academic years impacted, others may not have completed enough assessments to apply a no-detriment policy such as last year’s to and we also need to mitigate any potential for unfair grade inflation. We want to protect the academic standards and rigour of your learning outcomes and your eventual degree, so that you can rely on the lasting quality of your outcomes. We are therefore continuing to look at the possibilities so that we make the right decision and will get back to you as soon as we can.

Exams and assessments

Fairness, high standards and rigour are also key determinants for our approach to exams and assessments for the academic year 20/21 on all courses. As you know, if exams are to be held in your course and faculty, they will be conducted online. Final details for how your end-of-year assessments will be run are being worked on by faculties. We are hoping to announce the exam schedule in March as usual, and, you will be given full guidance and support to complete your assessments to the best of your ability.

Module leaders and module tutors will provide you with all the information you need about the pattern of exams and/or assessments during the exam period through the usual channels. We will also update our exams webpages and provide further resources and materials to support you via our central and social media communications channels in March and beyond.

Student consultation on Covid mitigations for this academic year

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all students who have so far shared their views on how we can best mitigate the impact of the lockdown on your learning experience. For students on practical courses in particular, this ongoing consultation exercise is exploring ways we might be able to offer additional face-to-face teaching time and practical facility access at other points in the academic year including the Easter break and/or the start of the exam period. For all taught students, it’s presenting options for mitigating the impact of Covid on your studies.

So far, we’ve had 171 responses from students on practice-based courses and 884 responses from students on other taught courses. We’d like to hear from more of you so that we can fully utilise the student voice in our decision-making. All you need to do to take part is go to MyDMU and click on the appropriate consultation tile. The deadline for participation in this consultation has been extended and will now close at 5pm on Wednesday 20 January. 

Plans for future return of students

As a government review is planned for mid-February on whether to end or extend the current lockdown, the university is busy scenario planning on how we can facilitate the safe return of the majority of students to campus when restrictions are eased. We’re also working on contingencies if lockdown is extended into Easter and beyond so we can protect and safeguard your learning outcomes and continue to provide a quality teaching experience. 

You should regularly check our FAQs page as we’re continuing to issue updates as we gradually address and answer the most important questions and issues impacting your learning and teaching and the wider student experience as a result of this latest lockdown.

Lastly…

A big thanks again for your continued patience and resilience as we work collectively to provide the best learning and teaching and student experience possible within the current restrictions.  

The way you all continue to support each other, overcome obstacles and protect the DMU community throughout this pandemic is truly humbling and something we’re very proud of.

Stay safe and continue to look after yourselves and your loved ones.

*The information provided in this email bulletin is for students studying a DMU programme that is being delivered at DMU. Students on programmes that are validated by DMU, but are delivered by academic partner institutions (such as DMUIC, Leicester College, etc.), should refer to their institution/college for confirmation of local arrangements.*

Note: Please note this update was amended on 1 February 2021 to further clarify information on rent rebates.