Published on 17th December 2020 at 17:34.
Your officers regularly meeting with the University management. This update includes answers and discussions on rent strikes and academic debt; no detriment; and the winter break!
Students who participated in a rent strike in the summer have received emails from the student accounts department of the university stating that due to outstanding ‘tuition fee debt’ they will not be receiving their degrees. Your officers raised this with senior management, emphasising that students who got in touch with the SU did not have outstanding tuition fees and, given the University’s debt policy, they should not be facing academic sanctions for non-academic debts. Director of Student Experience Jayne Aldridge and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor of Student Experience Graeme Pedlingham, who were representing the University at this meeting, said that they are aware of the issue, agreed that students who did not have tuition fee debt should not be receiving these emails, and apologised on behalf of student accounts for any anxiety and distress caused. The Students’ Union are looking into who was sent the email, and will try to ensure that students receive an official retraction and confirmation that any rent debt will not impact their degrees.
Throughout the term, your officer team and the student reps have been discussing the implementation of a no-detriment policy at Sussex this academic year. This has taken place in a number of forums: our weekly meetings with the University, as well as Senate, Student Experience Forum, and University Education Committee, among others. There has also been a fantastic listening campaign on student support, conducted by SU Community Organisers, Race Equity Advocates, and other SU staff, which pulled together many students’ concerns around access to their education this year.
Jayne and Graeme reassured us that they are taking these concerns seriously and, going forward, are looking for ways to assess what is happening to students and what they can do to support them. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it is being developed and we were given some hope that students will not be left in the lurch if grades are affected by the pandemic. The University said that students may well bring up assessments and what has been challenging this term in the survey they have just put out, and the SU will also be putting out a survey around assessments and Exceptional Circumstances over the Christmas break. Please do use these mechanisms to feed in your experiences, so that we can work together to find ways of supporting you!
This Christmas day and Boxing Day, SU Officers will be on campus with mulled wine, tea/coffee, and mince pies - an event Jayne indicated that Adam Tickell may attend! Keep an eye on Nehaal's social media for dates and times: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter. You can also sign up to our Secret Santa gift exchange and visit our Winter break page to find out more about what’s on.