The University of Sussex have announced today (1 April) that they will be adopting the ‘No Detriment’ policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This guarantees that students’ grade average in semester two will not drop below the grade average they achieved in semester one.
The announcement was made in an email sent to all students by Pro Vice Chancellor Kelly Coate. It reads:
“One of the key points I raised in my last email, as part of our guiding principles, was to assure you that your grade for the year would not be impacted by Covid-19 and the very significant challenge this has presented to your learning and studies. Some of you have asked for more detail on what this means, so I wanted to get in touch to provide that clarity to you today.
No detriment in your academic qualification and progression:
The University will be putting measures in place to ensure that you will encounter no detriment in the awarding of your grade for the year, due to the global pandemic.
This is important as we take into account the disruption you will have encountered as a result of the move to teaching online and the fact that not all students have the same access to learning online as everyone else. We believe in fairness when it comes to your education.
What does no detriment mean?
- This means that you will have a safety net as we will ensure that your Semester 2 passed marks will not be lower than the average mark you achieved in Semester 1.
- However, you can certainly improve upon your Semester 1 performance through achieving higher marks on Semester 2 modules.
- The high standard and value of a degree from the University of Sussex is extremely important so please note that you will need to pass your Semester 2 modules in order to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes of your course.
What happens next:
- We know you will have lots of questions about this. We will be working very hard over the next two weeks to finalise the details of exactly how this safety net will be calculated for the wide range of courses and student profiles, as well as how we can support students who are unable to complete assessments at all due to exceptional circumstances.
- If your course is accredited we are working with the relevant professional or regulatory body to ensure that this no detriment policy aligns with their requirements.
- We are committed to ensuring that this principle of no detriment and the safety net is a reality for every student. Further information about this will be communicated to you when you start the next term, which begins on Monday 20 April, and Schools will be able to answer questions about the no-detriment policy from that point.
We will do everything within our means to make sure that when you progress to the next year, or when you graduate that you do so with the learning you need and deserve.
I know that many students are working really hard to prepare for the upcoming assessments to progress and enhance existing grades and I really wish you all the very best.”
The student body at the University of Sussex had become increasingly concerned about the consequences of the pandemic – such as the sudden move to online teaching, a lack of access to academic resources, and no face-to-face contact – and how these consequences would impact their ability to study without their grades being negatively impacted. An open letter to Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell highlighted these concerns, and has currently been signed by over 1300 students. The Vice Chancellor responded to the letter earlier this week, but his response was felt to be inadequate by the letter’s authors, Jude Whiley-Morton and Thomas Polybank. They issued a further response, pushing for the implementation of the No Detriment policy, stating:
“Since the date our letter was published, University’s across the nation have rallied to accommodate for their students in ways that Sussex University hasn’t. “No-detriment” policies are one such means through which Universities have been able to ease the burden Covid-19 has placed upon students the country over. Today, The Sussex Open Letter throws its weight behind calls for a “no-detriment policy” to be implemented at Sussex.”
Another student created a change.org petition, which garnered over 3000 signatures, pushing for the no detriment policy. The petition reads:
“I believe this is the only way Sussex university can fairly grade any assignments/exams left for this academic year. Not only is the environment completely different having to work/revise at home given that most people find the use of the library a critical part of revising. You’ve also got to take into account less fortunate people who may not have access to a laptop or computer during this lockdown are put at unfair disadvantage over the next coming weeks/months as they have no way of looking through lectures and seminars. If we come out with lowering grades because of differing policies between different universities, we may be at a disadvantage when it comes to employability.”
Jude Whiley-Morton, author of the open letter, said:
“I’m very pleased the Uni have understood quite how severely Covid-19 could affect our grades. Nothing can replace an undisturbed year of learning, but a no-detriment policy will ensure that every student who’s grades could be negatively affected by the coronavirus won’t. We want to thank the Uni for listening to our proposals.
The University of Sussex joins Exeter, Southampton, and Edinburgh University in implementing the No Detriment approach.