Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): An update from your SU

Friday 13-03-2020 - 14:44

[Updated Tuesday 7th April]

Greater Manchester Universities, together with their students’ unions, have today appealed to private landlords to release students from their contracts.

We’re asking all private landlords to follow our University’s lead. We’d like their support for our students by releasing them from their contracts early and relieve them of their rent for the third term.

Adam Haigh, SU Welfare & Community Officer

Our Letter

We are all finding ways to navigate through these incredibly uncertain times brought about by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Whilst we are doing our utmost to support the education of our students during the pandemic, their wellbeing is just as much a priority.

As teaching and assessment is now being conducted online, we have offered to release students who have already vacated their accommodation from the fees they pay for their Hall of Residences for the summer term. We are aware other accommodation providers have also made this same commitment.

The students who attend our universities make Greater Manchester one of the largest and most vibrant centres of its kind in Europe. The fact private rented accommodation is available helps our students live in, and contribute to, communities across the region.

As leaders of the main Higher Education institutions and Students’ Unions in Greater Manchester, we are writing to landlords to ask if there might be a way to release students who have already vacated properties from their rental contracts.

These are exceptional circumstances, and we appreciate what we are asking may be a significant act on a landlord’s behalf, and one that may be entirely dependent on their own financial situation.

However, we believe this act of generosity would make an enormous difference to our students, many of whom are experiencing hardship, and ensure that they do not suffer as a consequence of this unprecedented situation.

[Updated Monday 6th April]

Myself and your fellow executive officers have been working with the University on the upcoming July Graduation Ceremonies. Graduation is more than the just certificate and transcript you receive; it is an opportunity to celebrate completing the degree you have worked so hard to attain with friends and family.

For many students, the continuous disruption to their study this year has put them under enormous pressure and has had a detrimental impact on their wellbeing, this meant that we wanted to lobby for the University to postpone the July Ceremony to a later date when it is safer to go ahead with the ceremony.

Given the uncertainty of the situation a date cannot be set yet, but I assure you we are working with the University to embed a significant notice period for students, to ensure that you and your families are informed well in advance and can make suitable arrangements without a significant financial burden. 

Thanks for bearing with us,
Chloe Salins, SU Education Officer 

[Updated Wednesday 1st April]

Hey everyone, 
 
I wanted to give an update to the meetings I’ve been to so far this week. It’s halfway through the week and we’ve managed to push for so much! And I want to thank all of you for bearing with me in terms of these updates, I’m keeping you updated as much as I can so here we go..
 
No Disadvantage policy 
 
I’ve had a lot of queries about this policy after the announcement on Friday when we drafted the policy we discussed how the policy would need to be implemented differently for each of the faculties especially with differences in accrediting bodies, assessment types etc. By now you should have been contacted by your Faculty about how the policy will be implemented, your courses should be in touch soon. 
 
Hardship Fund 
 
After a few weeks of long meetings and big discussions we have secured the hardship funding and lobbied for it to be applicable for all students, this means that whether you are undergrad, postgrad taught or postgrad research student you are eligible for the funding. We have also lobbied to relax the current eligibility requirements for the funding to make it even easier for students to access this funding, we understand how stressful this time can be especially financially and we wanted to ensure you are supported here, for more details on the fund you can find them here
 
IT Support & Access to resources
 
The university has set up a helpline and email address for students struggling to access online learning whether this is blackboard, lecture capture, zoom, library resources etc they have created an easier system to raise your queries. If you do not have access to a laptop or other resources you need this system is here to support you as well where possible. We understand there is a significant amount of students that do not have access to laptops, computers, iPad etc since the closure of the library facilities and we are pushing as much as we can to ensure you are supported. 
 
For support please email helpmegetonline@manchester.ac.uk  or alternatively ring +44 (0) 161 306 6199
 
That’s all the updates so far, just want to say a massive thank you to all of you for sending in feedback and queries. As always you can email me if you have any questions, I’m trying to answer them as soon as possible, it may take me a little longer than usual to respond. 
 
Thank you,
Chloe Salins, SU Education Officer

[Updated Monday 30th March]

Collectively all of the student executive have spent the last week contacting heads of schools to urge them to implement blanket extensions for assessments and dissertations that are due in the next three weeks. This is something we know you have consistently been asking for and given the current climate, we believe that this flexibility is justified. We will be updating you on which Heads of School agree to these terms and will keep you informed on our discussions. Here is a copy of our letter to them.

SU Student Executive Officer Team

[Updated Friday 27th March]

Hey everyone,
 
I hope you’re all doing well and looking after yourselves, you might have just seen the announcement that has come from the University around mitigation. I wanted to explain the decision a bit more and provide some clarity as I’ve had some queries come through.

The University is implementing a ‘No disadvantage’ approach to all assessments, this means that for the upcoming summer assessments which are being moved online to replace on-campus exams the marks you achieve will not, wherever possible, disadvantage your final degree average. I understand that for a lot of students your courses are regulated by professional and accrediting bodies and your school will communicate with you for what this means for your course.

I’ve had a lot of queries from students asking how mitigation can be applied and this is done through examination boards through. As students, it has never been clear on what exactly examination boards do so I am working with the University on creating some further guidance to go out to you next week.

I wanted to ensure you that we are taking into account the significant levels of disruption this year and throughout the past couple weeks myself and your other Executive Officers have been working hard to ensure we push for mitigation for you.  If anyone has any questions please email me, I’ve had a lot come through so my response may be slightly delayed.
 
Stay safe and enjoy your weekend,
Chloe Salins, SU Education Officer

[Updated Tuesday 24th March]

Following on from the University’s recent statement in suspending all physical face to face teaching (including laboratories, seminars and tutorials) as well as the closure of non-essential sites from 5pm on Tuesday 17th March, we wanted to let you know which SU services will remain open as well as those that will be closed.

The University of Manchester Students’ Union is and has always been more than just a building. We still want to hear from you and you will be able to reach us through emails as well as the SU’s social media. Our SU social media will be prioritising messaging related to COVID-19 and how it will further impact SU services and related activities.

Advice

As of Monday 16th March we have moved all face-to-face scheduled advice appointments to telephone appointments and the team will be able to offer advice via email. If you already have an appointment, the advice team will be in touch. For students who wish to book appointments with the team, you can contact them directly via email advice.su@manchester.ac.uk.

Societies & Activities

As an SU we are in the process of advising societies to cancel their events. The SU activities team have been in touch with society committees informing them of this. Fund-It meetings have been cancelled and the money saved from this will be repurposed to help any societies that incur costs, as a result of any cancellations. The money saved is limited and we will do our best to ensure that we can meet the needs of as many societies as we can. If society committees have any further questions, you can contact them directly via email here.

Gigs & Clubnights

Almost all gigs and clubnights are now cancelled in line with government advice around large gatherings. If you have purchased a ticket, you will be contacted directly regarding cancellations, refunds and/or rescheduled dates. If you have any further queries regarding gigs and clubnights, you can contact info.su@manchester.ac.uk and a relevant member of the SU team will get back to you as soon as possible.

SU Building

The SU Building is now closed to staff and the public. This will be reviewed on a week by week basis and we will let you know as and when that changes.

Major SU Events

We have cancelled our SU awards ceremonies as well as our Graduation Ball and End of Year Glow-Up event. Whilst we know that will come as a disappointment to you, we want to ensure that your health and wellbeing is at the forefront of that decision. We are working on ways to ensure that we can celebrate your achievements over the course of the last academic year as well as the previous years of your time at University and more details will be announced soon.

We want to reassure you that student health and wellbeing are an absolute priority to us. We understand that you may be worried about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is easier said than done to not panic.

On a final note, we want to remind everyone to always treat each other with dignity, respect and care. Supporting each other when we are worried is all we can ask of you so don’t be afraid to ask questions for us at the SU.

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