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4 February: A letter to students from the Minister of State for Universities, student consultation on teaching and exam periods and Your DMU Safety reminder

 Following last week’s Covid-19 update (28 January) to all students, we can now announce more details on pressing matters and mitigations in regard to the latest lockdown. The Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, has written to students explaining Government expectations from universities in relation to student support and teaching provision and announces further hardship funds for students to access. The full letter and how DMU is meeting those expectations are summarised below. In addition, we are consulting with you again about ways in which we might mitigate any potential impact on your learning and assessment preparation. Again, we would encourage you to read the whole update carefully.

A letter to students from the Minister of State for Universities

Although Michelle Donelan MP explains that the Government is still yet to decide on when the majority of students can return to campus, she has made it clear that this won’t happen until at least 8 March. We can expect a decision from the Government and Department for Education (DFE) week commencing 22 February. In the full letter to students, the minister also announces an extra £50 million for universities this financial year to help students experiencing hardship as a result of lockdown and stresses the ongoing importance of prioritising health and wellbeing support.

As confirmed in previous updates, we will administer this government financial aid via the Office for Students (OFS) Covid Impact Hardship fund to students in need. Many students have already accessed this vital support mechanism, in particular, those experiencing additional costs arising from having to maintain accommodation in more than one location, and those that have lost income due to being unable to or use the Coronavirus Job Retention Support Scheme (CJRS). If you need support with living costs and are experiencing hardship, please do check your eligibility for support from this fund and how to apply via the website.

The DMU Support Fund is another avenue for student financial support. For those of you experiencing difficulty accessing equipment and facilities from your current home, there is the option of the IT access hardship scheme to potentially support your studies. All you need to do to is fill in the access hardship scheme 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.

The Universities Minister recognises the ongoing impact of the pandemic on student mental health and is reminding students of the health and wellbeing support they can expect from their universities. We want to reiterate that DMU will always be here for you to offer and provide support when you’re experiencing wellbeing challenges. You can find information about support via the HealthyDMU Hub which provides you with details about staying well and explains how you can book appointments with the Student Welfare Team. All of DMU’s welfare services are available online including counsellingmindfulnessmasterclasses and Single Point of Access (SPA) appointments. If you have ongoing or significant health or disability-related concerns which may affect your studies, you can also contact the DAS on disability@dmu.ac.uk or our Mental Health team on wellbeing@dmu.ac.uk, who will discuss the situation with you and consider what support or adjustments can be put in place.  

Student consultation on teaching and exam periods

Following the completion of the student consultation exercise exploring ways we might be able to mitigate the impacts of the latest lockdown on your learning and teaching experience, we want to engage you further on potential steps we can take to support you. This involves asking your views on whether we should explore the possibility of extending the learning period in the summer term to assist with revision and other learning support activities. This very short survey can once again be completed on MyDMU via the consultation tile from today until the deadline of 11.59pm on Tuesday 9 February. The survey asks the below yes or no questions:

  1. Would you like us to provide a week of additional learning time (which may be online) before the exam period to assist with learning support activities and give more time for personal revision?
  2. In order to achieve this, we would need to change the exam period from 3 May - 28 May, to 10 May - 4 June. This period would be broadly equivalent to the original dates, although it takes the exam period into the half-term week and you will receive your results a week later than originally planned. Would you like us to make this change?

We’d like to hear from as many of our students as possible so please do take part! It’s imperative that we fully utilise and consider the student voice in our decision-making, especially when it relates to matters impacting your teaching, exams, assessments and learning outcomes. As mentioned in our last bulletin, by 11 February we will outline the ‘safety-net’ policy we will put in place for students to ensure fair outcomes for assessments.

Your DMU Safety guidelines

Given it’s almost been a year since we first entered lockdown we appreciate that many people in the country may feel some level of fatigue with all of the restrictions and rules in place to contain the virus. We’re aware that this feeling may apply to some in our student community. We want to say thank you and offer our sincere gratitude to the vast majority of our students (and staff) who continue to follow the rules.

This second wave of Covid-19 means the daily rate of infection across the country remains high, with more than 30,000 people in hospital and over 1,000 deaths per day. We’re all wishing for a return to normal life soon but the current circumstances call on all of us to show continued resolve, resilience and moral rectitude to stick to the safety rules in place nationally and on campus. it is critical that everyone continues to follow the advice and guidance on the Your DMU Safety microsite – key principles to note include:

  • Wearing a face covering in all teaching and study spaces no matter the layout, unless there is a legitimate medical or personal reason for exemption. We also expect them to be worn when students and staff move around buildings or use common spaces (including the Library, Campus Centre, Hawthorne Building and Vijay Patel breakout areas). 
  • Using the DMU Safe Trace app – this is a vital tool in combatting the spread of Covid-19 and keeping each other safe. Please remember (and ask others) to always scan in, where prompted, when entering buildings and spaces on campus and record your seat number.
  • Getting tested twice a week for Covid-19 to keep yourself and others safe. You can access free lateral flow (LFD) tests at our testing centre at The Watershed.
  • Following important healthy and safety principles by regularly washing your hands, following directional signage and maintaining social distancing at all times.
  • Reporting to the university within 24 hours if you test positive for Covid-19 by completing our DMU Safe Trace positive case webform
  • Reporting to the university if you are asked to self-isolate by completing our DMU Safe Trace self-isolation webform.

We at DMU would urge all students to follow this advice as part of our shared commitment for the safety of yourselves, your fellow students, DMU staff and the wider community. 

As the Minister for Universities states in her letter, university staff are working incredibly hard to support you. We know how frustrating and upsetting the current situation is – these are trying times for all of us. But we ask everyone in our university community to treat each other with dignity and mutual respect no matter the issues of contention. Only by working together and supporting each other constructively will we overcome these ongoing obstacles.      

Lastly…

Please continue to look out for more updates via our central and faculty communications channels as we continue to navigate the current situation. 

You should also regularly check our FAQs page to find answers to pressing questions and issues. Your Student Advice Centres are also available should you need help on matters not covered on the FAQs or through these Covid-19 updates.

Please continue to stay safe, look after yourselves and your loved ones wherever you are.

*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.*