your education and coronavirus

Our aim is to ensure that the new curriculum works well for students and that where changes have been made to module and course options, that students are fully consulted, student feedback is listened to and valued, and that students’ interests are protected. 

We understand the university’s need to make changes to its curriculum due to financial pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As the Students’ Union we appreciate that difficult decisions have to be made and that this will impact on student experience.  Finally, we want to ensure that students have appropriate routes of complaint if they are not happy with the options available to them. We want to praise the university for the amount of work that has been happening to prepare the changes to curriculum for this and the next academic year. What we want, is to ensure that the quality of these changes reflect student value for money and positively contribute to the university experience. The quality of online learning is vital but the quality of support for this is also paramount. We want to ensure that all staff and students feel confident and competent to make new types of learning work and enjoy the innovative ideas that will come out of these changes.  

What we've been lobbying for:

  • Clear communications on changes to assessments and teaching.  
  • Support for students who may be facing hardship or have a lack of access to the appropriate resources  
  • Academic support for students that may wish to re-take, defer or need guidance on how to get through their studies at this time.  
  • Effective consultation with the student body, that gives us the opportunity to represent the voices of students across the whole university and student experience.  
  • Safety-net policy that works for all, that ensures all students will be marked fairly and with consideration of the current unprecedented situation
  • Laptop-loaning system so that students can learn from home with quality equipment
  • Students to choose if they wish to acknowledge COVID-19 as a disruption on their transcript of marks
  • A plan for quality teaching and learning that ensures all students will be able to still achieve the same learning outcomes 
  • Support from the Office for Students on how they can ensure that changes to courses will not mean students are disadvantaged 

To make all this happen we have been:

  1. Working alongside the university and representing students in the complex process of reviewing the current curriculum 

  1. Supporting our School Convenors and Course Reps to work with academic staff on the curriculum review  

  1. Ensuring the university are held accountable to their own Terms and Conditions and Student Protection Plan 

  1. Actively encouraging individual students who feel they have been detrimentally impacted to complain and, where we have the resources, supporting them through that process 

  1. Lobbying the university to ensure appropriate alternatives are in place, particularly for groups of students are disproportionately impacted, for example, postgraduate students. 

  1. Gathering feedback from students to ensure we are fully representing their needs and concerns. 

What we expect from UEA:

During this period of time we want to hear from students about their experiences about teaching and learning. The university MUST make efforts, in line with ‘consultation’, to engage with students and ask them about their experiences, talk to them about new plans; and review proposals with them. We WILL put support in place to get students ready to have these discussions and will work with schools to make sure we are aware of all meetings and discussions that are taking place, to support our reps and conveners in this process.  

Consultation / Co-creation:  

Active engagement with students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. This should be carried out on a local and broader scale to consider a variety of perspectives, evidenced through meaningful and visible change as a result.  

What is NOT consultation:  

  • The sabbatical officer attends the meeting and raises a question or point amongst the group. 

  • The sabbatical officer meets to catch-up with members of teaching staff to hear what is going on. 

  • Course reps meet at the SSLC and are asked to give their feedback.  

What IS consultation:  

  • The sabbatical officers are part of the scoping and planning process.  

  • Course reps are supported by uea(su) in partnership with the university to ensure that feedback and evaluation is centrally pulled together and considered.  

  • University members of staff, leading on key projects, regularly communicate and collaborate with uea(su). This can be done through visits to forums such as Education Committee and Rep Forum.  

  • Meaningful discussion is had and a visible contribution to the work, from uea(su), is evidenced. Such as a collaboration on a policy or co-authoring pieces of work that are reported into the university committee structure.   

  • Dialogue takes place on an individual basis with students and staff, as well as collectively through SSLC’s.  

Our proposed timeline for consultation:  

  • Ensure all SSLCs have had a chance to meet and feed into the process before the scoping exercise is completed (this must include attendance of student reps, they couldn't just rush through an SSLC without any students there).  So they may need to push back the deadline of the 15th to allow those meetings to happen, but they could still start work on next steps for those ones that are done.  

  • Once scoping exercise is done, academic staff should be clearly briefed on the proposed changes, to be able to answer student questions.   

  • FAQs should be prepared, anticipating many student questions.  These should be shared with SU as well, so that we can support students appropriately.   

  • All students should be informed about the proposed changes and given somewhere to raise concerns that are not covered in the FAQs.  Something like the form we have would probably be suitable, as it would enable the university to collate all the issues, without necessarily having to answer lots of direct emails.   

  • We would like to see, at the very least, a summary of the feedback; if not all of the feedback.    

  • Once the changes are finalised, students should be contacted individually confirming what the changes are to their courses or modules. This communication should also include what options are available to the students in terms of how they now select modules, what the process will be if something they are planning to study is no longer available.  Finally, it should give them information about what options are available to them if they are not happy, e.g. complaints process, SU advice, deferring etc.