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‘Betrayed and let down’: UoA faces backlash as students campaign against No Detriment decision

Students and staff alike have expressed their disappointment and anger with the Senate vote against a No Detriment policy


By: Anttoni Numminen



Caption: High Street on Campus - Courtesy: AJN


In a highly contentious move, the University’s Senate voted against implementing a No Detriment (ND) policy last night.


The Senate voted with votes of 40 in favour and 56 against the policy which would have meant “that assessment undertaken during the second half-session of 2020/21 will not have a detrimental impact upon undergraduate degree classification or postgraduate taught award."


The reaction from many students has been damning, with some taking to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to voice their thoughts.


Speaking to the Gaudie, Connor McCausland, a 4th Year English student described the decision as “cold and utterly heartless”.


“It is so apparent the negative impact the ongoing pandemic is having and has had since March, the lecturers and staff are constantly explaining how they themselves are struggling and that they feel our pain. But if they really felt our pain, then why would they do this?” said McCausland, who is also President of the Centre Stage Society.


Not all have been as critical, though, with some students arguing that the ND policy would not benefit them as their dissertations are not written until the ‘autumn term’.

The Students’ Association (AUSA) has also come out strongly in support of the No Detriment policy, with Vice-President for Education, Ondrej Kučerák, saying students have been “betrayed and let down” by the Senate vote, while describing Senate members as having “put themselves first, and students last.”


Caption: Ondrej Kučerák


Senate is responsible for all academic matters relating to teaching and research. It has 79 seats for elected staff representatives as well as a number of student members such as Sabbatical Officers and school convenors.


Though the Senate is mainly comprised of staff, several members of staff including lecturers, have voiced their disappointment with the decision while calling on the University to implement an ND policy.


Dr Elizabeth Elliot, a senior lecturer in the English department told the Gaudie: “No detriment policies are a sector-wide concern during the pandemic and offer important and valuable assurances that the difficulties students are facing are being recognised.


“The policy voted on was the product of extensive consultation, both with staff and students, and I'm profoundly disappointed that it has not been adopted. While we are still able to use measures such as classification by grade spectrum to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on student grades even without a no-detriment policy, I hope that an official policy can still be put in place for this academic year, so that we can give our students the support they deserve and need.”


Some lecturers have argued against the policy on the basis that implementing it would render degrees “worthless”.

Setting out its position, the University sent out an email this afternoon to all students, stating that “While Senate did not support the specific No Detriment policy that was proposed in support of this for our second half session, I want to assure you that we have comprehensive systems in place to ensure you are not disadvantaged.”


It also highlighted “a range of processes” allowing students to “inform us of your circumstances at both School and University level, for example if you require an extension or if you are suffering ill-health or other mitigating circumstances.” Current policy and procedures can be found here.


However, this was met with scepticism by some, including student Eilidh Keay, who said: “it’s like we've been shot in the foot and the best they can give us is a band-aid.”


Not all have been as critical, though, with some students arguing that the ND policy would not benefit them as their dissertations are not written until the ‘autumn term’. Some lecturers have also argued against the policy on the basis that implementing it would render degrees “worthless”.


It is understood that those campaigning for a No Detriment would also like to hear from those who oppose the policy, in the hope of finding a workable compromise.




This is a developing story and The Gaudie will be providing updates as soon as it has them. Follow Gaudie News on Facebook for the latest.

If this story has affected you, you can get in touch with us at news@thegaudie.com.

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