Public Statement, Wednesday 13 January
The University of Gloucestershire recognises that students’ higher education, with us and across the whole University sector in the UK, has been seriously disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic and all the consequent lockdown restrictions. The University has worked hard and successfully to ensure that we can continue to provide high quality teaching, assessment and support for our students. But we recognise that students have not had all the opportunities and experiences they would have expected in normal times, and that the University would have wanted to provide for them. Of course, these are not normal times, and the University has been striving to provide the best service possible within the constraints placed upon us as part of the national effort to combat the pandemic and keep our community safe.
Student Accommodation: Rent Reductions
We appreciate that many of our students are concerned about their financial situation. Specifically, many students are frustrated about being unable to access the term-time accommodation they are paying for following the most recent Government announcements delaying the return to University and on campus teaching.
The University will therefore provide a rebate on accommodation charges for the halls of residence we manage. Details of this have been sent to students by email and via MyGlos. All eligible students will receive this rent reduction automatically (students do not need to make an application).
This reduction is a 45% discount on the final instalment of halls fees due in April. This equates to a 6 week or 15% reduction on the total annual cost of accommodation at the University. This applies to all students in a full year contract in University managed halls, irrespective of whether they have or have not been in residence. Full details and terms have been published for students.
Many students do not live in University managed accommodation. While we have no power to award discounts on privately managed halls of residence, or for accommodation owned by other private landlords in Cheltenham and Gloucester, we will be writing to all registered landlords on our database to encourage them to consider what adjustments they can make due to the circumstances surrounding pandemic restrictions. We also support the UOG Students’ Union Roof Over Our Heads 2021 campaign.
Since the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak started, the University has worked hard to respond to Government advice to ensure the safety of staff, students and visitors, to minimise the academic impact of the disruption on students, and to ensure the student experience remained meaningful and met learning outcomes, whilst preserving quality and standards.
Throughout the pandemic, it has been the University's priority to provide students with a high quality, enjoyable, and rewarding offer. Regular and clear information and guidance has been communicated to current students and applicants, as plans were made for the 2020/21 academic year.
Students and applicants were informed that the University was adopting a blended approach to teaching and learning for 2020/21, and that each course was likely to include a blend of on-campus and on-line lectures, seminars, workshops and small group teaching, as well as access to specialist facilities and equipment, personal tutor sessions on-line and on-campus, and on-campus workshops and activities for induction, employability and other services. We aimed to maximise the use students could make of our specialist facilities and equipment (studios, workshops, laboratories, performance, rehearsal and recording spaces), allowing for regulation of group sizes within each space.
The University has worked hard to deliver on these commitments to blended learning for as long as restrictions allowed. We are confident that UOG students have had more opportunities to be on campus and use our facilities than elsewhere. Our campuses remain open for students on designated courses including nursing and teacher training, and we will resume our blended learning offer for all other courses as soon as we are allowed to.
In doing all this, the University has seen no reduction in the costs we face. On the contrary, some costs have gone up such for COVID secure measures, extra cleaning, PPE and investments in online platforms for teaching and assessment. Our staff have worked extremely hard to meet the new pressures of delivering teaching online. We are therefore not in a position to cut tuition fees, because we use that fee income to pay for the teaching and support services we provide.
We are aware that many students are petitioning Parliament on these issues, and we are working with others across the University sector and our own Students’ Union to seek Government support for the financial pressures faced by students and Universities.
No Detriment Policy
The changes put in place this academic year (2020/21) have been designed to ensure that the student experience remains rewarding and meaningful, that learning outcomes are met for each course, and that students can achieve well and gain full recognition and academic credit for their hard work. whilst preserving the quality and standards of the qualifications we award.
We have announced a new No Detriment Policy for this academic year, with a package of measures to allow for the disruption students have faced to their study. This will ensure that students are not disadvantaged as a result of that disruption in terms of getting recognition for their achievements in exams and assessments, while also sustaining the validity of awards over time.
Details of this policy have been sent to students. As in more normal times, we encourage our students to speak with their course and module tutors in the first instance if they have any questions or concerns regarding their teaching, learning or assessment.