Updating students on their education and new resources
By: Charlie Littlejones
Last updated: Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Today (April 8 2020) the PVC for Education and Students, Kelly Coate, wrote to all UG and PGT students to update them on the latest decisions the University has taken on qualifications and progression.
Thank you to everyone who has taken time to contact me and many of my colleagues since I last wrote to you in my weekly email. Many of you have let us know that you are very supportive of the no detriment approach we are taking to your education and it is clear that this has offered much needed assurances to you at this time.
Whilst every student at Sussex has the very real opportunity to enhance their overall grade this year, it also provides some flexibility for those of you who have been impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic. This situation has affected people in many different ways and will continue to do so, but here at Sussex we are doing everything we can to minimise that impact on you and your education.
We have committed to coming back to you when you return for the last two weeks of teaching, which starts on Monday 20 April, so after that time please look out for communications from your School, as well as information on Canvas about your assessments. However, I wanted to use my email to you today to provide an update on some of the questions that have come up and that we are able to clarify now.
Information on the Student Hub:
Firstly please do remember that all of the information I have shared with you previously on how we are adapting your final term is all available on the Student Hub, which we have worked on redesigning in the past week to help you find the information you need as easily as possible.
For final year Undergraduate students and those on Masters programmes who are busy working on dissertations, I want to clarify that we consider this as an A2 assessment, and as such this will be marked as per our ‘no detriment’ policy, which means if you pass the Semester 2 assessments, the overall grade you receive will not be lower than the average grade you received in Semester 1.
Timing of assessments:
Many of you have wanted to check when the A2 final assessments are due to take place. We have confirmed previously that these will be two weeks later than originally scheduled to give you additional time, taking into account that many of you had to move to another home and getting used to the switch to moving to online teaching.
For assessments prior to the A2 final assessments, your School will have put in place arrangements for assessments that fall within Semester 2 so please do check directly with your School if you are uncertain about any deadlines.
All of your academic colleagues and our assessment board chairs are making sure that we assess you in the most appropriate way. This means making sure you are not assessed on learning you have not received, but also that your assessments are conducted in a way that is suitable for learning online.
Continuing your education:
One of the questions we are asked quite frequently is if there will be any change to fees for the final term and so I wanted to get back to you on this.
As the University is continuing to provide all of its students with their courses and although the mode of delivery has moved online, we’re doing all we can to ensure the education and learning you’re receiving remains at a high-standard. We are also working hard to ensure you are able to achieve the learning outcomes of your course. As such, the normal tuition fee arrangements still apply.
I appreciate this has been a difficult year for many of you and I wish you were not having to go through this during such an important time in your lives. Our job here at Sussex is to maintain the delivery of your learning and education – and we are absolutely committed to that.
As I know you would expect, we have been following all of the regulatory guidance in relation to the decisions we have been making including the Government body the Office for Students (OfS) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
Technology to help you learn and connect online:
As I mentioned to you previously, we have been investing in new technology platforms for you to explore new ways of learning online and stay in touch with each other during this time. I’m sure that many of you have already used the extremely popular video and chat platform Zoom.
I’m really pleased to let you know this is now ready for you to use, through a special license we have secured for you with Zoom. Zoom is a cloud-based service you can use to virtually meet with students and staff - either by video or audio-only or both. You can do this while conducting live chats and record the sessions to view later.
You may have already set up your own Zoom account before now. While you’re free to continue using that account, the University’s institutional account offers some real advantages - meetings can be longer than the standard 40 minutes and up to 300 people can be included at a time. Unlimited cloud storage will also be available. Remember that you can update your privacy settings too on sites like Zoom, as we know that is a concern for people. We’ll provide more advice on that next week. I hope you enjoy using this.
It has been excellent to hear of so many new virtual activities launching each week through the Students’ Union and from other teams at Sussex, such as Sussexsport. Whether it’s learning at the virtual Language Café, cookery classes or debates, your Students’ Union have done a remarkable job at providing a fantastic set of activities. It does really help to stay connected to your fellow students and I hope you are finding ways to do this. This week representatives from Student Unions’ around the UK came together to create this lovely video. #InThisTogether.
Next week we will be launching another website for you on ‘Things you can do today’ so look out for that. In the meantime, you may like to spend a few moments looking at the many new ways to explore taking care of your physical and mental health on our Wellbeing page in the Student Hub. This includes links to many organisations like MIND and the Mental Health Foundation who offer amazing online support through website and apps. You can also check out Silvercloud – an online self-help application, provided through our counselling service. Delivered online, Silvercloud offers computer-based therapeutic programmes and aims to offer information and self-help support for students experiencing problems.
For our students on campus check out this video:
As well as ensuring your Sussex education is the very best it can be during the pandemic our very significant focus has been doing all we can to ensure our students staying with us on campus are looked after. This has clearly been difficult with the new social distancing measures in place and the clear guidance from the Government to stay indoors. We are extremely grateful to all our students in campus residences for taking this advice so seriously and we know it must be particularly hard for you.
Our team of staff, Residential Advisors and Student Connectors have produced this short video for you to remind you you’re not alone and to make sure you know where to go for the help and support you might need right now. Take a look.
Please don’t forget to visit the dedicated pages on the Student Hub to keep you up to date with how to contact our teams if you ever need help and how we are supporting you.
What’s coming next:
While many of you will hopefully be taking a well-earned break over the current vacation, inbetween your studies, the staff at Sussex are continuing to work really hard. The University has a short break until next Wednesday, but there are still lots of ways to find out the information you need through the Student Hub. Of course, our services for students on campus continue during this time.
Thank you for taking the time to read what I know is a rather long email, there’s so much to keep in touch with you about and I’ll be emailing you again next week.
All the very best,
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students