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28 January: Student consultation feedback results, exams/assessments and safety-net policy, financial and student support, health and wellbeing

As this latest national lockdown continues to restrict us in so many ways, we hope you’re all staying safe and well and continuing to look after yourselves and your loved ones. Yesterday (27 January), the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government will be reviewing the national lockdown on 22 February and that the current restrictions will remain in place until at least 8 March. Our understanding is that the planned return of students to schools also applies for universities. Therefore, we are still scenario planning on how we can facilitate the safe return of the majority of students to campus and continuing to work on contingencies to protect and safeguard your learning outcomes. We will issue an update as soon as we gain clarity from the Government and Department for Education.  

We are very thankful and proud of the way you’ve responded and continue to persevere and we are very much hoping for brighter times ahead and that day when we can all be back on campus together. In this Covid-19 update, we can share further information on the progress we’re making on the issues and topics that matter most to you. We would encourage you to read the whole update carefully. It includes:

  • Student consultation feedback results (and DMU’s response)
  • Exams/assessments and safety-net policy
  • Financial and student support
  • Health and wellbeing

Student consultation feedback results (and DMU’s response)

As mentioned in our most recent Covid-19 student updates, we have been running a student consultation exercise exploring ways we might be able to mitigate the impacts of the latest lockdown on your learning and teaching experience. This was split between a survey targeted at students on all taught courses and another aimed at students on practice-based courses. This exercise has now closed and we want to thank everyone who took part – your voice and views are vital to our decision-making so we can support you in the best way possible.

In total, we had 205 responses from students on practice-based courses (predominantly from Arts, Design and Humanities and Computing, Engineering and Media students) and 1,061 responses from students on taught courses (which was evenly split across all four faculties). This fantastic response provides us with invaluable insight into the issues and concerns you’d like to see the university address. A summary and breakdown of the results can be found in the table below (R = response rate):

All taught courses

Preferred mitigation (in order of most to least preferred)

R

Review of deadlines

831

More streamlined extenuating circumstances to take account of Covid-19 factors

729

Providing wider range of financial support

664

Opportunity for face-to-face revision sessions over a two-week period to prepare for exams and final assessments

402

Dedicated Programme inbox for queries with responses within 48 hours

387

Opportunities for other skills enhancement sessions in the summer

294

Dedicated 1-2-1 surgery time with academic staff

276

Dedicated group surgery time with academic staff

205

Practice-based courses

Preferred mitigation (in order of most to least preferred)

R

Assistance with obtaining materials

156

Assistance with obtaining equipment

152

Review of deadlines

151

Review of assessment balance for practice-based assignments

149

Assistance with obtaining materials /  opportunities to continue working on your portfolios/collections/artefacts/projects over the summer (including after graduation)

139

Opportunities for other skills enhancement sessions in the summer

117

Opportunities to continue working on your portfolios/collections/artefacts/ projects in September

88

The results demonstrate that you’d like us to prioritise effective and reasonable mitigations for exams/assessments and assignment deadlines, a fair safety-net policy to ensure you’re not unfairly impacted by the latest lockdown and providing access to greater financial and student support. Our latest response to these pressing topics is covered below.

Exams/assessments and safety-net policy

It is clear from the results above that you want us to adjust assignment deadlines and the balance of assessments to mitigate the negative impacts of the latest lockdown. We hear this and can assure you that we are working on fair solutions by taking into account the individual circumstances of each student. By not adopting a one-size fits all approach due to the complexities involved (as explained in the previous update), our faculty and module leaders will need extra time to get the balance right. This is crucial, because protecting the academic standards and rigour of your learning outcomes and your eventual degree is paramount since you need to rely on the lasting quality of your outcomes.

What we can say at this stage is that we are planning ways to streamline and/or remove administrative burdens related to exams and assessment processes wherever possible. Across our four faculties, some work has already happened in relation to this and in response to student feedback.

The experiences of the last academic year and the fact we had built in adjustments to modes of teaching, exams and assessments for this academic year’s flexible learning and teaching, means we’re in a different position to last year when a no-detriment policy had to be implemented as a response to an emergency situation. Many aspects of mitigation have been embedded in courses as a matter of routine as we prepared for and have progressed throughout the academic year. Therefore, we’re continuing to work hard on a safety-net policy that considers your individual circumstances and contends with the complexities of the current situation on your personal learning requirements and outcomes. We’re planning to announce the details of the safety-net policy within the next two weeks.

Financial and student support

As shown above, we know that some students have been financially impacted throughout the pandemic and are struggling with living costs. We recognise this and we are taking steps to support you as best we can. In response to the latest circumstances, the university has added further monies to our DMU Support fund.

We also want to make you aware of the Office for Students (OFS) Covid Impact Hardship fund which we’re administering on behalf of the Government. This will help students with a contribution towards living costs. Please check your eligibility for this fund along with details on how to apply via the Covid Impact Hardship fund page.

While the majority of students are unable to return to campus at this time to access equipment and facilities, we can offer the option of the IT access hardship scheme to potentially support your studies if you are experiencing problems accessing equipment from your current home. All you need to do to is fill in this application form to be considered for support (see full guidance on eligibility).

If you have any questions and 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.

Health and wellbeing 

Although we’re planning and hoping for better and more normal times ahead, we know that the pandemic is affecting us all in different ways and impacting our health and wellbeing. We want to reiterate that the university is here for you – support is readily available if you’re experiencing any mental health challenges. Here are some key support offerings you can access:

Self-care and looking out for others are more important than ever before so do please reach out and find the support you (or a friend or classmate) needs during this challenging period.

And finally…

Please continue to regularly check our FAQs page as we’re issuing regular updates to address and answer your most important questions and issues.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding - please continue to stay safe and look out for more updates via our central and faculty communications channels.

 *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.*