I hope you and your families are all well. Despite the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic, it has been great to see the quality of work submitted in semester one assessments and I and all the staff at UCO would like to let you know how impressive it is to see such resilience in the face of the challenges that we are all facing at the moment. Thank you also to everyone who completed the mid-year survey which closed recently. Again, in the face of adversity, it is really reassuring to see that the vast majority of students (95%) are satisfied with their experience at UCO this year so far. Following recent government updates and also information received from our partner universities, I wanted to get in touch to provide you with a brief update on our approach to teaching, assessment and student support over the next few weeks.
Several of our partner universities have now confirmed their arrangements for ensuring that no student is negatively affected by the pandemic in relation to how they are assessed on their course. You may see and hear these processes referred to as ‘No Detriment’ policies and they are designed to ensure that the impact of the pandemic is recognised and that all students receive the marks they deserve in their assessed work. Whilst the precise detail of the policies differs between partner universities, the aim of all is the same. Both we at UCO and our colleagues at our partners are absolutely committed to ensuring that you can continue to access high quality teaching & assessment and that your achievement is fairly recognised.
If you have any questions at all about how ‘no detriment’ policies are being applied on your course, please contact your course leader or course tutor in the first instance. They will be able to advise you on the process you need to follow, should you need additional time or support with an assessment. UCO has an established process for requesting an extension to an assessment deadline, or for applying for Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) if you are unable to complete an assessment on time, whether related to Covid-19 or other circumstances. Your course team will be able to discuss these processes with you.
In line with Government guidance, all taught classes continue to be delivered online. The recent announcement by Government in relation to the return of schools confirmed that there will be no resumption of face-to-face teaching on campus until the 8th March at the earliest. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and update you as soon as a possible return date has been confirmed by Government. In the meantime, your course team remain accessible remotely in the usual ways and all your timetabled classes will continue online. Moodle will continue to be available and all course teams will ensure that materials, resources and recordings of sessions are available for you to use.
The guidance in relation to the national lockdown continues to be that everyone should stay at home wherever possible and only leave home for specified reasons. It is therefore important that wherever possible, students study from home and do not come to UCO.
However, in line with Government guidance and recognising the fact that for some students, studying from home is not possible we will continue to maintain access to the UCO library and to some specialist facilities, to ensure all students can continue their studies. The opening days and times are below. Please note, the campus is not currently open for general access and if library access is required, this must be pre-booked, by emailing the library team (email@example.com).
Tuesday 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm
Wednesday 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm
Thursday 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 4pm
If you require access to specialist teaching facilities or equipment as part of your studies, such as the performance studio for example, you should contact your course team in the first instance. Whilst general access to UCO buildings is not currently possible, access for specific purposes can be arranged in a Covid-secure way.
All tutors and support services, including academic skills, the library team, disability, health & well-being and careers, will continue to be available by email, telephone and video conference during working hours. If for any reason they are not available, they will set an ‘out-of-office’ message on their email to advise of alternative contacts. If you have any questions or concerns at all, please continue to contact your tutors directly. In certain circumstances, it may be possible to arrange face-to-face support on campus, but students should contact staff by phone or email in the first instance.
We recognise that the current situation creates significant pressures and additional burdens for many students and staff. Please remember that all staff at UCO are available to offer advice and support, whether that is in relation to your studies or other issues. If you are struggling with anything at all, or have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your tutors, or the UCO support services:
Academic skills – firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 344 8808
Disability – Laura.Macmillan@oldham.ac.uk 0161 344 8877
Health & well-being – Charlotte.email@example.com 0161 344 8843
Careers and employability – Vicky.firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 344 8800
The challenges presented by the lockdown are varied, and for some students we appreciate that the circumstances may have a financial impact on them. UCO has a hardship fund available, to provide direct financial assistance to students. If you are experiencing any form of financial hardship, please speak to your course team or the UCO HE Student Services team, who will be able to advise on access to the UCO hardship fund.
As with all UCO staff, our HE Student Services team will mainly be working remotely during this closure. If at any point you need to contact HE Student Services, please do so by emailing email@example.com. This inbox will be monitored regularly by staff and they will respond as soon as possible.
If you are struggling to access relevant software platforms, lecture content and materials or need additional support in developing your digital skills then we are here to help you. You can book a session in the LRC and speak directly with a member of the team. firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone at UCO is working hard to ensure you are supported as much as possible to continue with your studies throughout these challenging times. We all hope that we are succeeding in this, but if you feel that something has gone wrong, or you would like to raise an issue with us, you can follow our complaints procedure, which can be found on our website by following this link: complaints policy and procedure.
If you are experiencing any challenges at all in relation to your studies, whether Covid-19 related or otherwise, please make sure you speak to your tutors, or the support teams at UCO. We are here to help!
Please remember to follow the national guidance and stay safe at home. It is important that we all follow the rules in order to supress the virus.
We will continue to keep you updated.
Vice Principal – HE and Higher Skills
UK Government advice: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
NHS advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/