News Article

Update on King's 'No Detriment' Policy

KCLSU Officers

To the wonderful students of King’s College London,

We write to you today to update you on the ‘No Detriment’ policy due to be released by King’s soon.

On Friday 8th January, we said that a policy was coming. King’s College London have, behind the scenes, been working on a ‘Fair Assessment Policy’ which outlines ten component mitigations designed:

“(a) to ensure that our students continue to be assessed fairly and that we honour our commitment that no student will be academically disadvantaged by the impact of the Covid pandemic, and (b) to meet our obligations to students in protecting academic standards and the integrity of their degrees.”

We, the KCLSU Officer Team 2020-21, do not believe the outlined mitigations go far enough to comprehensively protect students’ academic performance during a pandemic, nor do they provide sufficient support students for the remainder of this academic year. They are a good first step, but there is more to be done to ensure students are adequately supported.

Additionally, despite asking for a ‘Safety Net’ style policy to even be considered since the start of the academic year, we first heard about the ‘Fair Assessment Policy’ on Thursday 7th January (at which point we told you, the student body, via an update here). We first saw a form of this policy on Monday 11th January, and it was intended to be passed at Academic Standards Sub-Committee on Wednesday 13th January.

During the meeting on Wed 13th January, we raised a number of points including:

  • A call for improvements to the policy draft we had seen:  
    • Enhanced possibilities for deferral of assessments - this should be applicable to both UG and PGT – Confirmed by King’s
    • Module-level cohort mitigations as opposed to Programme level
    • Study Abroad – considerations for those students who face an 85% weighting for final year
    • Extend the C Score Calculation recalculation of lower weighing modules for second year – allowing the bottom 30 credits to be weighted as Level 4 marks, not 5.
    • PGT Degree Weighting – students have the ability to rebalance their dissertation against examination performance if poor.
    • The onus should not be put on students – KCL must take a commitment to provide an academic backstop allowing students to feel confident they achieve the grades that are representative of their academic capability.
  • The pandemic has straddled two Academic Years. Students have been affected in different ways throughout that time, and there should be inherent flexibility that allows for a representative picture of a student’s ability, either by dropping worse-performing modules or otherwise allowing for a mixture of modules to count from over the last 15 months

At no point in this process can we see that the university conducted meaningful student engagement, particularly with elected academic programme representatives, in a policy that directly affects them and their academic attainment, has knock-on effects on mental health and wellbeing, and about which students have been wanting assurance and consultation on for the duration of this academic year.

That, combined with the outpouring of students who have reached out to us or created petitions rightly demanding that the university values the voice and contributions of students, is why we are taking the matter into our own hands.

This statement accompanies a Typeform for students to voice their need for a comprehensive ‘No Detriment’ policy, to express how it would benefit them, and the sort of mitigations they would expect to see from the university.

Furthermore, for students who are interested in actively engaging in a campaign, there will be a space to enter your email address so we can keep you involved, which will likely include small town hall sessions to discuss potential mitigations, evaluate the policy once published, appreciate the differences in needs and obstacles across levels of study (UG versus PGT versus PGR) and across programmes (such as for regulated programmes e.g. health degrees) and if it comes to it, mobilise in activism. Many students have already expressed an interest in getting involved, and we thank every single student that has got in touch so far. We are working through our inboxes to get back to you!

We have been working hard behind the scenes preparing to launch a campaign, connecting with other Students’ Unions (our President Salma was a key coordinator in connecting Russell Group Students’ Unions to respond to the Russell Group statement, you can read more here) and organisations such as NUS, as well as evaluating what resources we have at KCLSU such as our Campaigns and Media teams to begin strong student-led action on this and other student issues.

We hope your exams and assignments have gone well over Period 1, and look forward to connecting with and organising alongside a number of you as we fight for students’ rights in the coming months.

Share your thoughts and get involved here

 

Sincerely,

 

KCLSU Officer Team 2020-21.