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NI universities urged to follow GB and protect student grades

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Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

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Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Northern Ireland's two main universities have been urged to follow the lead of their counterparts in Great Britain and introduce a 'no detriment' policy to protect student grades against the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said he has written to both academic institutions, asking them to follow the policy.

It ensures that as long as a student passes a module, their grade point average will not be affected - meaning they will not fall below their current overall mark and ensure their educational outcomes will not be negatively affected by the pandemic.

A number of universities in Great Britain have already introduced the policy but Queen's and Ulster University have not, despite previous calls to do so.

Both, though, said that no student will be disadvantaged by the grading policies they have in place for this academic year.

"The past year has been an exceptionally difficult, with students among those seeing their lives and studies disrupted," said East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson.

"We are now seeing more restrictions introduced in a bid to reduce the number of Covid-19 infections. A 'no detriment' policy would support and reassure students their educational outcomes will not be negatively impacted by the pandemic.

"Many universities in other parts of the UK have introduced such a policy but there have been concerns Queen's and Ulster have not, despite previous calls to do so from many quarters, including by my colleague, Councillor Eoin Tennyson," he said.

A spokesperson for Queen's University said that steps had already been taken to mitigate against the effects Covid may have on student grades.

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Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

Time to act: Stewart Dickson wants local universities to adopt a ‘no detriment’ policy

"Queen's University recognises that the pandemic continues to present particular challenges for students which may impact upon their ability to engage with their studies and submit or complete assessments," the institution said.

"The University has taken steps to address these challenges where possible, including a number of mitigation measures that have been applied to our regulations surrounding assessments to reflect current circumstances.

"Any students who feel their studies have been adversely affected are encouraged to discuss this with their Schools and engage with the wide range of support mechanisms that are available.

"The extent of the impact felt by students will vary and the University has in place a process to assess exceptional circumstances.

"This guidance has been updated specifically for 2020-21 to ensure provision is made for the particular challenges faced by students during this academic year."

Ulster University said that it's priority is to preserve the integrity of any degree award.

"No Ulster University student will be academically disadvantaged at the point of assessment as a result of Covid-19 impacts. Supporting our students in achieving their full potential through teaching and assessment remains our priority," a spokesperson said.

"As we progress through this academic year we are once again ensuring that any alternative assessments preserve the academic integrity of each degree and that every student can confidently keep their studies and career plans firmly on track.

"Our continued approach to the design of teaching delivery and assessment is flexible and considerate of the many and varied individual circumstances, to ensure that all students have ample opportunity to succeed."

Belfast Telegraph


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