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Felix Rackow

The University of Edinburgh announces new coronavirus mitigation measures for students…

(Cover Image: Stinglehammer from Wikimedia Commons)

On the 1st February, the University of Edinburgh announced a package of new measures in an attempt to mitigate the ongoing detrimental effects of the pandemic on the attainment of students.

Perhaps the ‘headline’ measure of the package is the switch to automatic approval of extension requests for most assessments, meaning that students will be able to apply for an extra week to work on coursework, etc. without having to provide an excuse.

FreshAir News spoke to several third-year students who had mixed feelings about this change, with one suggesting that it is “bizarre”, and that the University seem to be throwing out ultimately ineffective measures instead of responding to what many students have called for; a no-detriment policy.

Another suggested that “time’s not the issue, it’s the standard of education” that has been affected by the pandemic, and is therefore what needs to be addressed.

On the other hand, another student told us that the automatic extensions “could be useful”, but that he felt the measures could have an ultimately detrimental effect, allowing students to “kick the can down the road” and deal with deadlines a week later, without taking into account work that might be due after this.

Image: Alasdair W from Wikimedia Commons

Another big change announced on Monday concerns procedure surrounding special circumstances; students will no longer have to provide medical evidence to support an application, and can instead self-certify for claims relating to health concerns. They will still, however, have to provide a “clear description of the circumstances and their impact and supporting evidence from other sources, e.g. University staff, wherever possible.”

The range of circumstances covered by the University’s policy has also been expanded, to include when a student has contracted Covid-19, or when they have had to take on extra caring responsibilities or extra paid work (as a ‘key-worker) because of the pandemic.

Other measures which have been applied include a change to the borderline range for degree classification from 2% to 3%, meaning that a student who falls within 3% of a higher class could be upgraded to this class, decided by the Board of Examiners on a case-by-case basis.

Although many students will be disappointed with the lack of a no-detriment policy in these measures, the University has assured students that results will be compared with previous years to ensure that the pandemic has not caused assessment outcomes to become “unreasonably depressed.”