Over 4000 Sign Petition For University Grade “Safety Net” to be Implemented

Following the successful implementation of a “safety net” regulation at a number of UK universities, a petition has been created for the same to be considered at the University of Leeds. The safety net will act as a mitigation system which will ensure that the ramifications of the Coronavirus outbreak does not negatively affect the average grades of intermediate and final year students.  

In essence, as long as students meet the pass mark (40%) in their assessments, final academic year averages will remain the same, or higher than, the average obtained so far. 

The petition, started by fourth year student, Bethany Stokes, has gained a significant amount of attention and, at the time of writing, has nearly 4,500 signatures, which is approximately 8% of the student population. A similar petition at the University of Newcastle has received over 6300 students according to The Courier.

Comments made on the petition shed light on why students are signing. Steph Clough said, “I am signing because I know how stressful this is mentally, financially and physically for the whole of the UK…couldn’t imagine having to save some space in my mind for deadlines, and exams with all that’s going on!”

As a result of the virus, students are now having to work remotely, with no physical access to libraries or University resources- both of which are factors that some argue will prevent students from conveying their true academic abilities. To alleviate the worry and strain this will put on students, many are calling for the University of Leeds to follow suit and introduce a safety net to protect academic progress made thus far.

Warwick University has passed a safety net regulation, explaining that the decision was made in order to recognise the hard work students have already put in this academic year and to ensure that the global pandemic will not prevent students from achieving a quality-assured degree. They stated: “We hope this gives you some more of the reassurances you have been looking for at this difficult time”. 

The University of Exeter has also announced the adoption of a ‘safety net’ policy. According to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, this is to ensure that the completion of summer assessments “can only help not hinder you because we will not let the extraordinary circumstances in which you are completing these assessments leave you with a mark below your current mark”. 

Similarly, the University of Liverpool has announced a ‘no detriment’ approach to marking. Students can now only improve their current grade average, as long as students meet the overall pass mark. Speaking exclusively to The Gryphon, Lizzie Flaxington, a final year Mathematics and Economics student at the University of Liverpool, says: “It makes me less anxious for sitting exams outside of the exam environment I am used to and on content which is entirely through online teaching. It’s a relief and all unis should be doing it, it’s the least they can do. Leeds should definitely do it!”

So far, the Universities who have adopted a ‘safety net’ approach for final and penultimate year students are Warwick, Liverpool, Exeter, Cambridge, Sheffield and Cardiff.

Creator of the petition, Bethany Stokes, tells us:

“I understand that the university is facing a lot of difficult decisions in
these unprecedented times. However, it’s vital that they listen to their students. The safety net is what thousands of students consider ‘a fair solution to a complex problem’. After the petition was such a success I found several School Representatives through Leeds Uni Tickets page (who deserve recognition) – Laura, Anna, Abby, Emily, Lore, Sam, Xanthe, and Zoë.

The official email to the Vice Chancellor was sent off the other day, signed at the bottom by hundreds of other students. We are hoping to hear back from the Vice Chancellor soon. Not only has this pandemic unquestionably affected students’ studies in numerous ways, but without the ‘safety net’ it will leave students at detriment to other universities.”

The University has declined to comment but said they are continuing to communicate with students.

To sign the petition, click here.