A message from Kelly Coate, PVC for Education and Students, to all students
By: Harvey Atkinson
Last updated: Friday, 8 January 2021
Today, 8 January, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, Kelly Coate, sent an email to all students. You can read the message in full below.
Dear all taught students
I hope you’re keeping well. I’m sure you’re keen to understand how the University is responding to the latest stage we’re at in the pandemic. I’m pleased to let you know we’ve made some important decisions quickly to help you to focus on your studies. Please do continue to check the Student Hub’s Semester 2 pages on a regular basis for updated information.
This week you can find out about:
- Your education – online learning until 26 February
- How you will be taught during this time
- Library access and study spaces
- Resources to help support studying, essay-writing and exam preparation
- Exceptional circumstances and no–detriment policy development
- Wellbeing and mental health support for students
- Employability and Careers advice and support
Your education – online learning until 26 February
The UK Government has stated that due to the pandemic students at University should continue to study remotely and not return to their University address. The only exception at this time is students studying medicine, education, social work and some other healthcare-related courses – students on these courses will be contacted by their School directly.
At Sussex we have agreed that for the majority of students learning will remain online until the 26 February, with in-person teaching potentially starting again on Monday 1 March. It is really difficult to say at this point in time if the Government will ask that learning remains online for most students for longer. We will of course let you know at the earliest opportunity if this date needs to be extended, due to the pandemic, to protect your health and safety. We feel it is important to give you this clarity now, and hope this decision gives some welcome stability at this time, so that you can concentrate on your studies.
When you are able to return to campus, you will be required to take two Lateral Flow Covid-19 tests, and we will keep in touch with you about that and the dates for return to campus ahead of in-person teaching.
How you will be taught during this time
We are really committed to making sure your learning during this time is as good as it can be, and we have learnt many lessons ourselves on how to make the most of digital tools and technologies whilst sharing the most effective practices identified by tutors and students.
Throughout Semester 2, we will continue to provide at least eleven hours of live, real-time learning per module. You may find that this happens more in some weeks than others and will happen alongside other ways of learning and reading.
Library access and study spaces
In response to recent guidance issued by the UK government, the Library can now only be accessed for essential use only. If it is essential for you to use the Library you must use the Click and Collect service. Please note that the Library will be changing its opening hours. If you have any questions about Library services, please use the ‘Chat with Library Staff’ function on the Library’s web page from 9am – 5pm Mon to Friday and 10am – 5pm at weekends.
Students who are on living on campus or nearby are able to continue to book study space in the Library and other parts of the University via the Click and Study space.
Resources to help support studying, essay-writing and exam preparation
The Academic Skills Connectors are creating resources to support students’ studies, essay-writing and exam preparation. You can find all of these resources on the Academic Skills Resources Canvas site for students, including a podcast series for first-year students where Connectors share study tips, signpost to resources on Skills Hub, and interview colleagues for specialist advice.
Exceptional circumstances and no–detriment policy
We are working quickly to agree additional measures to help you to progress with your studies during this assessment period and for the remainder of the academic year. This includes our decision to deploy a no detriment policy. We are determined to support your academic success through these unprecedented times.
This no detriment policy will differ from that used for Semester Two, in the last academic year, where we used each student’s marks from Semester One modules as a ‘safety net’. Not having these marks available means that we will need to implement ‘no detriment’ differently, but we want to provide reassurance that the aim will still be to ensure that your grades are not negatively impacted due to the pandemic.
We will similarly ensure that you are able to achieve your learning outcomes, and that the academic standards and value of your degree will be protected. We want to indicate this to you as soon as possible, to provide reassurance. More detail on how this will work will be shared in due course, and final details should be available early next month
The exceptional circumstances process remains in place if you experience a sudden and unforeseen change to your circumstances throughout this assessment period, and we have extended a self-declaration process for a wide range of reasons. Further information can be found at: https://student.sussex.ac.uk/assessment/exceptional-circumstances
Wellbeing and mental health support for students
The University understands that for some students the impact of the Covid pandemic and the current lockdown may have an adverse impact upon their mental health. I have regularly promoted our student support services and student mental health services in these weekly emails, and I hope that you know that the University is here for you.
If you are finding things difficult please do reach out to our student support services who will provide advice, guidance and practical support to help you. The Student Life Centre, Student Support Unit, Counselling Service, Careers and Employability Centre and International Student Support all continue to provide online services.
As well as the University’s support services, you can also explore the Student Space, which offers expert information and advice to help you through the challenges of coronavirus. You can access Student Space in the way you want to, via phone, email, text or webchat.
You can also access online mental health support with Togetherall, a safe online community to support your mental health, anytime of the day, 24/7. If you need a place to talk, are finding things difficult or are feeling low you can explore your feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Register online with your Sussex email address to access Togetherall’s support. You can find more information on wellbeing and mental health on the Student Hub’s 'Looking after your wellbeing’ page.
The Residential Life Connectors are supporting the student community, on and off campus, with lots of online socials. Join Connectors for movie nights, study sessions, making playlists, pet show & tells or just to have a chat. There are lots of online meet ups happening every week, you can find them all on Student Hub here.
Employability and Careers advice and support
Our Careers and Employability service continue to offer careers advice, information, workshops, events and work experience opportunities. In addition they offer support to students who are interested in starting a business, developing a social enterprise, going freelance, or kicking off a new creative project. New for 2021, the Entrepreneurship Team has a fresh programme of workshops, funding opportunities and resources to support you. Sign up for the Entrepreneurship newsletter to stay in touch with what’s happening this term.
Finally, I know things are challenging for you due to the impact of the on-going global pandemic. The University and all our staff continue to ensure that we can support you as much as possible during this time.
With best wishes
Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Students