The Sabbatical team has issued a statementfollowing the University's announcement that teaching will move to 'Tier 3' from 8 October.
Tier 3 will remain in place for 3 weeks until 28 October, though there will be a revision on 23 October.
For the 2020/21 academic year, the University has established a system categorised by tiers 1-4 that describe learning restrictions. On 7 October, Vice-Chancellor Chris Day sent an email to students announcing that measures were being escalated to Tier 3.
This tier means that teaching will have an online focus instead of the Tier 2 strategy of blended learning. However, clinical and medical courses and the like will continue with presential classes.
A list of courses exempt from the new restrictions will be published by 11 October on this FAQs page, Sabbatical Officers have confirmed. Their statement also emphasised that “students can contact their academic school to ask how Tier 3 impacts their course if they are unsure.”
The Sabbatical team continued: “We understand that the decision to move tiers may confuse students, but we want this transition to be communicated as clearly as possible.”
In the statement, the Officers expanded on 8 issues they will be ‘fighting for’:
The Officers stressed the importance of maintaining the same quality educational experience while teaching is online. They call for the University “to have clear standards on the quality of online learning.”
The Sabbatical team asked the University to make IT resources accessible to all students by lobbying for more IT funding.
The statement points out that new restrictions and lack of face to face teaching might affect students’ mental health. They call for the University to “provide welfare support to every student that might need it and to a high quality.”
The Officers suggest that the University should work with course-related societies to help students to meet others from their course.
They also propose the introduction of a “pay as you stay” for student accommodations. They explain: “students should have the option to return home without having to worry about the financial burden that rent, or breaking a rental contract, will cause them.”
The statement asks for the University to continue providing access to provisions for students who have tested positive or are self-isolating with food and medicine without “financial detriment”.
Sabbatical Officers encourage students to continue to communicate their teaching preferences (face-to-face, online or blended) through the new ‘Sabb Suggestion Box’ in the NUSU website.
Finally, the Officers ask the University to ensure that grades will not be “unfairly affected” due to limited access to resources like labs, studios, University computers or the libraries
The statement closes by addressing tuition fees. The Sabbatical team point out that, even though they are trying to come up with solutions, the issue ultimately falls under governmental authority.
However, Education Officer, Sian Dickie has contacted Chi Onwurah MP in the hopes of bringing “a wider discussion on this at the highest University levels.” Furthermore, the team reassures that they have put in a request for information on the University's spending of fees during the Coronavirus pandemic.