The petition reads, "Whilst it is understandable, given the unprecedented situation, that face to face teaching has effectively been halted, students should not be held to the same standards as those carrying out exams and dissertations in normal times.
"By doing this, Universities are assuming all students have a suitable environment and resources to learn and work from their accommodation or homes as they would usually. This simply isn't the case for everybody."
After the University granted students a safety net for the 2019/2020 school year, students have expressed the need for the same type of policy for 2020/2021 given the similar lack of face-to-face teaching.
Many modules are planning to resume face-to-face teaching in Semester 2, which may account for the lack of safety net.
The petition also cites limited teaching hours, stress, and isolation as some of the other ways in which students have been disadvantaged so far this academic year. Although some of these factors were present last year, the late start and uncertainty around the holiday break are seen to have changed the situation considerably.
Due to students' interest in a safety net policy, the Student Union is now lobbying for a 'Near Miss Policy' that includes a sliding scale of mark deductions for late assignments, an end to assessment bunching and uncapped resits for the 2020/2021 academic year.
As well as this it will pay special attention to cases when a student is within 2 marks of a degree classification boundary, and ensure COVID-19 restrictions be taken into account when marking.
For postgraduate programs, the SU is requesting that "the eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 Impact Scholarships be extended to include PhD students whose minimum candidature ends after April 2022."
The SU also asks for postgraduate access to facilities to be prioritised for semester two, and the option to submit a 500 word statement about the impact of COVID-19 on work.
At the time of writing, over 1200 students have signed the petition on change.org, which can be read here: Introduce A Safety Net Policy for Newcastle University Assessments 2020/21
The full statement from the Student Union can be read here: Ensuring your marks are fair: we're lobbying for a 'Near Miss Policy.'