Vice-Chancellor news

Message from the Vice-Chancellor to students

Dear student,

I hope you have had a safe and relaxing Easter break and were able focus on matters other than the present crisis.

I’m writing to update you on the progress we have made to ensure that no student is disadvantaged in terms of their achievement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and let you know about our virtual counselling referral service. 

Since I last wrote to you, staff have been working hard on our new safety net policy for 2019/20. This policy will address both the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic (since 16 March 2020) and, where applicable, the disruption caused by strike action (November and December 2019, and February and March 2020). The safety net policy is supplementary to the 2019/20 academic regulations.

The purpose of the policy is to make sure that your module marks for this year, and for finalists, the degree you are awarded and its classification, are a fair and accurate reflection of your academic attainment. It is important to the University to ensure that your module marks, and where relevant, degree classification are not adversely affected by any potential dip in your academic performance in assessments undertaken during the period of disruption we are currently experiencing.

The safety net policy also recognises that it is important to you that the academic standards of your degree meet the requirements of the relevant national qualifications framework and that it is valid and reliable, and of an equivalent standard to degrees awarded in previous years. In some cases we must also ensure that degrees awarded by the University fulfil the requirements of the relevant Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies.

Your School will have informed you of changes to the delivery of teaching and the method of assessment in response to the current disruptions to ensure that no student is academically disadvantaged.

We also confirmed in March that you are not required to report extenuating circumstances relating to the delivery of remote learning and assessment because of Covid-19 and that you are able to defer one or more assessments if your circumstances are such that you are unable to be assessed.

As you will be aware, Examining Boards consider and confirm assessment marks taking into account extenuating circumstances and apply a range of other permitted actions to ensure outcomes are both fair for students and maintain academic standards. The safety net policy provides further information to clarify the actions which will be taken by Examining Boards to ensure that the module marks reflect the standards you have achieved and the further actions to be taken when we classify degrees.

Read further guidance on the policy and what it means for you.

I know that many of you will be waiting to find out your remote examination schedule. We will be communicating these on Wednesday 22 April so do look out for an email next week.

Since I last wrote to you and shared self-help resources written by counselling and wellbeing staff and the Talk campus app, we are now able to offer referrals for a range of remote support. Find out more about all of our current support and how to get help.

We understand that concern and anxiety may be heightened during what is a truly unprecedented time.  If you are experiencing difficulties such as low mood, anxiety and other feelings of emotional distress or you are concerned about your safety or the safety of someone else please ask us for help.

Please do keep updated with all of our Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for current students.

I wish you well in advance of the semester starting again on Monday.

Kind regards,


Colin Riordan
Vice-Chancellor