Vice-Chancellor news

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Dear student, 

I’m writing to update you on the progress we are making in responding to your concerns about assessment, how we can help you and support your wellbeing during the crisis, and practical matters such as accommodation.

Firstly, the question has been raised of whether we will adopt a ‘no disadvantage’ approach to assessment. In essence this means that completing the summer assessments can only help not hinder your mark. From the outset I have been clear that the principle that no student should be disadvantaged in terms of their achievement as a result of the Covid-19 crisis is an important one. Our intention, therefore, is to adopt this approach.

This is a complex area that may vary from programme to programme and School to School. We need to make sure that our approach is fair and that we don’t cause unintended consequences. We are working hard to finalise the details of what this means in the light of any necessary variation in assessment that may arise as a result of the shift to remote learning. We do need time to ensure that the measures we take maintain academic standards, meet professional body requirements and are fair and transparent to all students. As soon as we are able, we will issue guidance that will clarify the approach.

It is important therefore that you continue to focus your energies on working towards doing the best you can, whatever form the summer assessments may take. That way you will be able to get the most out of your education and we will be able to recognise your efforts despite these difficult circumstances. We will provide more information about our ‘no disadvantage’ approach via your School and Learning Central by 17 April at the latest, and sooner if possible.

We will not be holding face-to-face examinations in physical locations at the University – a schedule for remote examinations will be published before the 24 April, this has moved from the 17 April in order to provide more time for Schools to develop the most appropriate assessment plans.

In the meantime we have provided a bank of resources to help you in your remote learning, revision and study skills, so there is no need to wait for the next tranche of information.

Please contact your School as soon as possible if you are having difficulty with remote learning or are studying under conditions that are not ideal or are facing practical problems such as internet access.

The sooner your tutors know the sooner they can help.

Another area where we have made special arrangements is extenuating circumstances (follow the link and scroll down). You do not need to report extenuating circumstances that have arisen because of the shift to remote learning and assessment as a result of the coronavirus emergency. Reporting to the Examining Board will be done by your Head of School.

It is important that you let us know if you are ill or if there are other adverse events that affect your ability to take assessments, and you can do this by using the reporting form that can be accessed through your SIMS online account to self-certify and declare that you were not fit for an assessment due to extenuating circumstances.

I want to draw your attention to the student support and wellbeing services that are available to you.  We understand that concern and anxiety may be heightened during what is a truly unprecedented time. The requirements to stay within the same household, rarely venturing out, impose stresses that most of us would not ordinarily experience. Unfortunately, in line with Government rules we cannot undertake normal face-to-face service delivery and have had to move very quickly to remote ways of working to support students.

We have also tailored the student intranet to outline important information about improving or maintaining your wellbeing during this time of uncertainty.

Our Student Intervention Team has adopted a digital way of working so they continue to take referrals from students and our Disclosure Response Team is working remotely and continues to support students experiencing violence and abuse via digital means. 

If you have not already done so, one way of reaching support quickly is via Talk Campus. This is a social networking site which offers you a safe place to talk anonymously about anything and without judgement. Powered by the leading mental health support network Talk Life, Talk Campus is monitored by a professional team as well as students who are going through the same struggles as you.

More information is also available on the Health and Wellbeing sections of the intranet.

Since I last wrote to you on the 24 March, the advice on travel has changed. It is important to note that the latest advice is not to travel home if you remain at University, and you must observe this requirement. In addition you should, of course, continue to be observing current Government restrictions on outdoor activity and continue to follow the advice that has been issued by Public Health Wales. If you have left your University accommodation you will not be able to return under these rules and so we will not be charging you for your third term.

We have also launched a Student Check in Service that has some 250 staff volunteers who are calling all students who remain in Cardiff on a weekly basis to check in, answer questions and refer into specialist support teams on issues relating to health, finance and wellbeing.

Finally, we have also been made aware of examples where private accommodation providers have ended contracts. This has meant some students have been left with nowhere to live.

If you are aware of any student who finds themselves in this position we would urge them to contact the Residences Office via residences@cardiff.ac.uk and they will do everything possible to find you a room in University accommodation. Please note that they are receiving a high volume of emails at the moment, so add ‘Nowhere to live’ to the subject of your email.
 

Best regards,

Colin Riordan
Vice-Chancellor