Proposal – forward planning for May exams.

To be discussed at GUCU branch meeting 19.03.2020 (online meeting)

During the coming months, we will be working in a situation of extraordinary difficulty. We need to look for practical and fair ways of working. We should therefore cancel exams for first years without any additional assessment required. We should pass students on the basis of assessed work submitted.

Our capacity to work is going to be severely limited:

  • Not all academics/staff have suitable workspaces at home. This is especially the case now that partners are also working from home.
  • Whilst some may have a Goldsmiths laptop at home, in some households one desktop computer may be shared amongst two adults and children.
  • Many will be juggling caring with work, whether for children, parents, and the wider community. We can expect schools and nurseries to close, as they will do in Scotland at the end of this week.
  • In addition to the reality of Covid, those with chronic and long-term health conditions are likely to suffer. Kings Hospital has suspended most outpatient clinics as of this week.

The assessment period is likely to represent a ‘crunch’ time, both in terms of COVID-2019 infections and the busiest time of the academic year. We will not be able to carry on as usual.

The main benefit is in reducing the overall workload for us, so as to make it feasible. This is especially important for administrative staff. Progressing all our first years will free up time and resources to supporting our 2nd & 3rd year students.

There are additional pragmatic benefits:

* Student retention. For the financial health of the college, we really need our first years to come back, rather than drop out or defer.

* Compassion toward our students. Under the current circumstances we can anticipate: students suffering widespread illness, students under quarantine with no internet access; students caring for sick family; students with existing conditions worsening – i.e. mental health. This is not the time for exam stress.

proposed by UCU members of sociology dep