On Thursday at 1 pm, 28 student newspapers at representing all 24 of the prestigious Russell Group of British universities published a shared editorial expressing their frustration with the statement issued by the Russell Group on 7th January.
In the statement, the Russell group said that they considered the measures introduced by individual institutions were sufficient to give students and equivalent learning experience to what face-to-face teaching would offer.
Their objection to individual ‘no detriment’ or ‘safety net’ policies is based on their desire to protect the "quality and the integrity of our degrees".
The editors of the various newspapers, however, make clear in their editorial that they, and their student readerships, disagree with the Russell Group assessment. They (Imperial's Felix was involved in the drafting process) write that "Students have been left feeling abandoned by both the government and universities themselves".
They insist that "emergency measures" are still necessary given the protracted nature of the COVID-19 restrictions. They point to the death toll as well as high mental health toll that remaining isolated from friends and family has had on their learning experience with 50 percent of students declaring that their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.
They also point at the hugely difficult circumstances that many students have been forced to study under, mentioning a lack of resources and a stable learning environment.
The collected editors have called on Russell Group universities to emulate the example set by York university in recognising the necessity of policies to provide students with a level playing field compared to other year groups.
The group have not made any specific recommendations, however, recognising the need for individual solutions at each university.
Students currently studying have experience unprecedented disruption, having lectures disrupted by industrial action by members of their teaching staff in early 2020 before any of the country was placed under lockdown.
The Imperial College student Union is known to be in negotiations with the College in an attempt to gain protections for students affected by the pandemic. These measures include a lowering of the burden of proof on students applying for mitigating circumstances and changing College policy to make granting mitigating circumstances a default. They are also trying to provide all students affected by COVID-19, including postgraduate students, access to uncapped resits in the summer.
Departmental meetings with student representatives going on today will hopefully clarify the College's position, which up until now has been in lock step with the Russell Group consensus.