In light of the latest lockdown, the Union are working very closely with the University to work through some of the key areas of student concern. Please find below an outline of our conversations with the University to date, and the progress we hope to make in the coming weeks:
The current government guidance currently states that you should remain where you are currently residing, whether that be at home or your term-time accommodation. However, if you are struggling at your current residence please contact the University, as there are certain criteria that may allow you to return to your term-time address safely. You should do this carefully and in line with the government guidance on travel.
We are holding conversations with the University to encourage a rebate or credit of some of the accommodation costs for individuals in University owned halls of residence, particularly through this period where students are required to stay at home. We hope to provide a further update on this matter shortly.
For those in private accommodation, the Union are preparing an open letter to encourage letting agents and private hall owners around the city to consider similar compensation.
Academia and education have faced a huge challenge through the pandemic and the effect has been felt across the entire student population. Student voice has consistently been at the heart of every discussion and the University have always strived to provide students with the best possible experience, whilst following the guidance.
Whilst we recognise the best endeavours of the University, we also recognise that some of our students feel that the government should be doing more to compensate students for the disruption caused by the pandemic, both in terms of way programmes are being delivered and also the financial hardship being experienced by students whose home life and employment may have been adversely affected. As a result, we will be writing to our local Member of Parliament to convey our concerns to government and to urge that additional financial assistance is given to students. We will publish this letter for students to see.
Previously the University has adopted policy and procedures to ensure students are not disadvantaged when compared to previous cohorts who may have completed a degree pre-COVID-19.
We will be advocating that the University adopt a similar principle this year and provide clear guidance and support to all students undergoing assessment. Whilst we understand that it is challenging, please continue to work towards your assessments and try your best to submit on time.
We will continue to seek the feedback of students on practical courses, who at the current time, are unable to access the specialist space and/or equipment they need for their coursework - and liaise with the University to ensure extended access is made available as soon as government guidance allows.
We understand that the pandemic has brought with it many difficulties, such as social barriers, an adverse effect on mental health and financial hardship. We also understand that each person will be affected differently, and our advice service remains open if you need our support in navigating these difficult times.
Union events have been difficult to replicate amidst the government guidance; however, we remain committed to providing an offer that is attractive and engaging. We will be running a Refreshers programme in the last two weeks of January; this will be an online offer in line with the current guidance and we look forward to bringing you a programme of activities and opportunities for you to connect with others and escape for a while. To support those who have remained in Derby or who are part of the select number of courses that teaching has commenced on, we will be mobilising a catering trailer which will serve light snacks and refreshments across the University grounds, around halls of residence and satellite campuses. In anticipation of the vaccination programme, we are hopeful that the future will bring an opportunity to offer our more traditional student activities and be assured that when the time comes, we will be ready to deliver innovative and exciting events.
Embarking on this new year, we remain ambitious and ready to deliver the best experience possible for students and while the times of difficulty are not over, we will support you all in the best way we can. The latest guidance was certainly not what we had hoped for; however, once again I am sure the community at Derby will stand in solidarity. Please look after yourself, take time for self-care and check in on those close to you. We have been down this road before and I am optimistic that we can do it again.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected.