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COVID-19 update: RUSU round up 1

To ensure you are kept in the loop with how RUSU is representing your voice, here is an update into what we have raised with the University. We are meeting with the Major Incident Team at the University on a regular basis so will aim to update you at least once a week on what we have been doing.

  • RUSU website – RUSU is going full on digital! We have worked hard to move most of our services online including our Advice Service. We are currently producing a specific web page for Coronavirus updates so you can easily find all the information in one place.
  • Halls accommodation – We successfully pushed the University to not charge rent on students not returning to Halls in summer term. We have now asked that the University find a solution to those students who want to leave Halls but can’t in the next two weeks.
  • Special circumstances – We successfully got the University to agree they would provide guidance and outline support for students who have special circumstances, particularly those with accessibility needs. We had representation to give our views on how the EC process could be adapted to support students further during this time.
  • No detriment – we notified the University of the no detriment policy petition and open letter that had been signed by students. We raised with them that students were seeking a no detriment policy. We are now holding a vote to determine RUSU’s position on a no detriment policy.
  • Events – we agreed with our own events team that we wanted to still provide you with a time to celebrate the year. This means Grad Ball and Summer Ball are only postponed and we are currently coming up with brand new plans.
  • International students – we have been talking with the Dean of Diversity at the University as to how international students can be supported more.
  • Supporting Our Students – We have successfully worked with the University to create a buddy network called Supporting Our Students that will allow students to be linked up with another student or staff member who can offer support. We have pushed for this to not only be available to students in Halls but all students at the University.
  • Compensation – We questioned whether students would be receiving compensation – the University have now included a response in their FAQs and have outlined that although they won’t apply blanket compensation, they will create a complaints process that will allow you to raise your concerns around receiving compensation.
  • Open letter – We wrote an open letter to the University outlining the concerns students had about the impact of COVID-19 and demand they provide answers. You can read this on the RUSU website but the themes include: exams and coursework, inconsistencies with other University policy, learning resources, accommodation, finance, welfare and communication.
  • Finance – we asked the University how they are going to provide more support to students who might be struggling financially as a result of COVID-19. They are now updating their information and the services they offer to provide more support to students.
  • Food donation – together, we helped the community by communicating food donation points so that your food wouldn’t go to waste before you went home.
  • Private Halls – We asked what the University were going to do to support students in private Halls accommodation and the Vice Chancellor wrote a letter to all major providers urging them to do what they can to support students. We will now also be writing a letter to add more pressure in the hope they will provide more support to these students.
  • NUS – our NUS delegates voted in favour of an Emergency Coronavirus Policy at National Conference which calls for more student support in mitigating any negative impacts of the circumstances.
  • Q&A session – we successfully lobbied the University to agree to host a Question and Answer session that will allow you to have your concerns fully answered by the University. You can submit your question through the RUSU website, details of when and where this will be held will be confirmed next week.
  • Communication – we asked the University to share more communications about the situation. They have since increased what they share, more recently with specific information around the support services still available during this time.
  • Sports club celebrations – we have been working with sports teams to produce a highlight reel of their year so they can celebrate the end of their year.
  • Other specific concerns that have been raised:
    • The impact and pressure of being a student who is a key worker and what support can be provided in this instance.
    • The services that can still be provided to students who continue to be in Halls including post, washing facilities and the reception.
    • How re-sits will work.
    • How will student staff be supported during this time and does the 80% reimbursement scheme apply to those student staff.
    • We are already looking ahead to next year! We met with the Alumni team to discuss funding distribution for students next year; this includes our sports, societies, volunteering and media streams.
  • Summary of issues raised in the Major Incident Team meeting on Thursday 2nd April:
    • We reiterated our withdrawal of support in the Universities position to not hold a no detriment policy.
    • We stated our decision to hold a vote that will determine RUSU’s position that will allow us to strengthen our lobbying.
    • We highlighted the main issues raised in the open letter and how we would keep the pressure on in waiting for a response and would continue to raise student issues to the team.
    • We highlighted the RUSU Disabled Student Officers report and asked that the comments be used when making decisions around exams.

A lot of the issues raised come from student feedback so if you feel you need a concern raised please do let us know through any of our channels.