not edited apart from redacting personal information
Dear Essex SU,
Over the course of this pandemic there has been a shameful lack of support and guidance from university and government bodies as it pertains to university students. Following Boris Johnson’s recent announcement of a third national lockdown, yet again there has been zero mention of any guidance or direction for students to follow.
For the third time we are being urged to stay at home despite the fact that assignments and exams are still proceeding without extensions. In addition to this, many students are locked into contractual obligations and tenancy agreements with no recourse. At the beginning of the academic year, students were misled by universities into believing that their physical presence at university was compulsory only for this to be debunked at the beginning of the term when contracts and tenancy agreements had already begun with no way out. The pandemic has caused a shortage of jobs and increased redundancies meaning that even more students are in a financially vulnerable position that could have been avoided had there been better communication from the universities and guidance from the government. It is shocking that students are being expected to pay for accommodation that is inaccessible due to government guidelines and there has been no support from universities to mitigate this. To add to the further financial tension, university fees have continued as normal despite the reduction in services, resources and quality of education.
We are aware that circumstances are ever changing and these times are unprecedented however, this does not negate your duty of care towards us which has been non-existent. To expect students to continue and excel with their assessments as normal, with less than the half of the support, resources and contact time experienced in previous years is nothing short of a catastrophe. Pairing this with the financial strain aforementioned has negatively affected the mental health of many students who are constantly existing in limbo leaving them unable to effectively focus on their academic requirements.
The global pandemic only exacerbates matters. We are having to navigate our lives around this virus, watching it affect loved ones and as this is the case, one would expect students to be given the necessary support to navigate this virus in the best way possible. But unfortunately, the government and universities have consistently failed on this part since March 2020.
I am pleading with you to call for action from the university and the government. We would appreciate if these points could be addressed to ameliorate the situation at hand:
- Universal bursaries/grants to offset financial strain caused by furlough and redundancies
- The issue of students being locked into tenancy agreements that were avoidable
- Extended deadlines and increased support for assessments