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NEWS: Education Council Update

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Education Council, whose membership includes School Reps and Academic Society Chairs, met on Monday 29 April to discuss a range of topics relating to the higher education sector.

Education Council exists to oversee the prioritisation of education policy at the Students' Union and acts as a sub-group of Student Council. The meeting enables its student members to campaign on relevant higher education issues and, where appropriate, hold the University to account.

At this month's Education Council, national policy discussion focused on NUS National Conference and the fact delegates approved a set of changes intended to transform NUS and save it from financial collapse. You can read more about NUS National Conference here.

On a more local level, Education Council made the decision to submit three motion proposals to Student Council. Student Council's next meeting takes place on Monday 20 May. While any student can submit a motion proposal, it is only the elected members of Student Council who can vote for and against these motions. If a majority votes in favour of a motion, the motion then becomes SU policy for three years. SU policy gives direction to the Executive Committee (made up of all Full Time and Part Time Officers) which shapes the activities and priorities of the elected officers. 

The three motions submitted to Student Council were:

Fit to Sit

Fit to Sit is a policy whereby any student who sits an exam or submits an assessment is declaring themselves as fit to do so and becomes ineligible to submit mitigating or extenuating circumstances after the exam/assessment.

Education Council were under the opinion that students may find it difficult to assess their own fitness to sit an exam. This may be a bigger concern for students with mental health difficulties but could also occur if an incident influencing a student's fitness happens immediately before an exam and if they have not had time to consider the incident's likely effect on their performance. 

Additionally, for many students, prior educational experiences would have had a culture of being encouraged to sit exams and just 'do their best' regardless of whether they are feeling completely fit. 

If a student does not sit an exam due to not feeling fit and their subsequent mitigating or extenuating circumstances are not accepted, they will recieve a mark of zero in their exam attempt. This makes deciding whether one is fit to sit a high risk situation which Education Council believes is not compatible with an inclusive approach to assessment and can lead to high stress levels for students. 

The Fit to Sit policy is not currently implemented at the University of Worcester, and there are no current plans for this policy to be implemented. However, with more and more Universities implementing this policy, Education Council demands that the Students' Union should oppose any future attempts of the University implementing a Fit to Sit policy.

Education Council have proposed a motion mandating the Vice President Education, School Reps, and other elected officers to oppose the Fit to Sit policy if the University ever brings it to the table. 

Multiple Assessments

The SU has recieved feedback that University of Worcester students want multiple assessments for mandatory modules to stop taking place within the same day/week. During Change Week, this issue was one of the top 10 ideas up-voted by students and was the top idea under the 'academic experiences' category, recieving a total of 111 up-votes. 

Council discussed the fact that the University implements an 'assessment sign off calendar' that staff members look at and sign if they approve assessment deadlines. Therefore, by signing this calendar, it shows the University that they are happy with assessment dates. Staff members should be able to see early on if assessments are frequent within the same week, and University guidance states that staff members can arrange to have the deadlines adjusted before signing this timetable off. Having said this, the University does not currently review module assessment deadlines in line with other deadlines and this sometimes leads to assessment pile ups for both single and joint honours students.

The motion proposed by Education Council states that removing multiple deadlines falling on the same day/week would be an SU policy that the Vice President Education would continue to lobby the University for. 

Standardised Blackboard pages 

Education Council agreed to put in a motion to Student Council, mandating the Vice President Education to look into solutions to ensure that the Course Leader follows Blackboard guidance with a view of maintaining standardised Blackboard pages across the different courses, schools, and colleges. This mandate will keep the standardisation of Blackboard pages on the agenda of the Vice President Education until 2022.

Education Council agreed that the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) should be set up in a way that is accessible and easy so that students can find relevant information. The VLE is an important part of students' University experience and so it should be maintained to a high standard based on a common set of rules and principles.

Student Council takes place on Monday 20th May where these three motions will be discussed and voted upon.

If you have any questions or feedback for Education Council, please email the Student Voice Assistant, Jodie Stilgoe, at j.stilgoe@worc.ac.uk.




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