The petition, which was created on change.org by student Abigail Darby, asks for the University to introduce a similar system to the one announced yesterday by the University of Exeter, whereby all second and third year undergraduates who pass their summer assessments will be able to retain their current average grade. If students perform better than their current average then they will be able to use these improved grades. This consequently means that, as long as students pass their summer assessments, they will have either the same average grade for the academic year as they had on 15 March (before teaching and learning was directed to online), or a higher grade.
Citing the reasons why such a scheme should be introduced at Newcastle, Darby detailed how students no longer have access to practical workshops and full library services, although the University continues to make efforts to ensure students have online access to as many library resources as possible. Darby furthermore states that the Coronavirus outbreak is impacting many students' mental health, leaving their unable to to complete work to their usual ability.
Darby concludes the petition by stating that: "Considering the exceptional and unexpected circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, this type of mitigating system will help to create more equal results for students being assessed at the University. This is because it allows students to achieve a grade which reflects their work under ordinary circumstances, whilst providing an incentive to do well in summer assessments and still giving students who did not achieve their desired grades last semester a chance to improve."
The petition has quickly amassed great traction online, obtaining over 1300 signatures within 48 hours of going live.
Discussing the idea, Education Officer Pablo Charro de la Fuente said: "The rest of the sabbatical officers and I were already working on this policy before the petition was created. We believe it is a fair and supportive policy for the student body during these difficult times. As the petition mentions, if this policy were to be introduced, it would allow the students to achieve a grade which reflects their work under ordinary circumstances. For that reason, we hope that our conversations with the University will be fruitful and that this policy will be followed at Newcastle University."
UPDATE (7 April): Newcastle introduces safety net policy