Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 1 May

Covid-19 Update Message to students - 1 May 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with students.

Dear Students,

I am writing with more information about the Safety Net approach, to give you access to your Provisional Baseline Average and to provide you with detailed information on the package of mitigating mechanisms and IT support we have put in place for you over the assessment period. 

I am also writing to encourage you to check your Semester 2 assessment timetable for any changes, to introduce the concept of ‘Quiet Fridays’, to remind you of the availability of the University’s Hardship Fund and I include a number of updates on behalf of our colleagues at NUSU.

The Safety Net approach

As you know, on the 8th April 2020, a Safety Net policy was introduced by the University as part of the steps being taken to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 situation on your results for the 2019/20 academic year. The aim of the Safety Net is to minimise any disadvantage by your performance in the remote Semester 2 assessments, although noting that you will need to pass any remaining modules for the Safety Net to apply at the end of the academic year.

In earlier emails and in the FAQs, you were alerted to the fact that not all programmes will be eligible for the Safety Net (those requiring external accreditation for example) and your school will have contacted you directly if this is the case.

Baseline Average Calculations

To access your baseline average for 2019/20 please log into the Student Self Service Portal (S3P) and click on the ‘Component Marks’ link from the menu options at the top of the screen. This will take you to a screen where your baseline average will be displayed.

Your Baseline Average has been calculated based on your 2019/20 Semester 1 assessment results, taking into account the credit weightings for each module assessed. Final Year Undergraduate students will also see a Programme Baseline Average which uses the 2019/20 baseline figure in an additional calculation to work out your provisional degree average using results and weightings from previous years, as per the regulations for your programme. For Postgraduate Taught students you will receive one baseline average which takes into account all assessments up to the end of Semester 1 of 2019-20. As with all marks at this point, the Baseline Average is a provisional mark that will be confirmed by the Board of Examiners after internal moderation and consideration by the External Examiner.

For certain programmes or in individual cases, it has not been possible to automatically generate a Baseline Average. Where this is the case, don’t worry, you should have received an email and will see a message on screen that will signpost you to further advice.

For more information about the University’s Safety Net Policy and how your Baseline Average has been calculated, please see the detailed information on our Covid-19 webpages. If you have any queries about the Baseline Average, you should first view the information on these pages. If you still have a question after you have looked at the FAQs, please email BaseLineAverage@newcastle.ac.uk.

Mitigation Mechanisms in addition to the Safety Net

The University is very aware of the disruption that Covid-19 has had on all of our students and we will, of course, take this unprecedented situation into account.  A range of options have been designed for you if you need to tell us about additional issues that you have or are experiencing personally or with your module/s that you believe will impact upon your learning and assessment and which won’t be addressed by the application of the Safety Net.

Full details of the options available, which include the existing PEC system (streamlined so evidence is not required from you on issues relating to Covid-19 or health-related requests); requests to defer your assessments and changes of circumstances procedures, together with the Covid-19 Impact Form, can be found on the Covid-19 webpagesThis link will take you directly to a table of the available measures, links to each form and an explanation of the possible outcome from each one. 

If you have already submitted a Covid-19-related PEC

As noted in my message last week, if you have already submitted a PEC form for Board of Examiner consideration on the basis of Covid-19 impact only, you will be asked to resubmit a form. We are asking you to do this because we believe that it is only once you have considered the additional information that is now available that you will be in a position to select the most appropriate way to inform us of how Covid-19 has impacted upon you.  The option to resubmit a PEC is still available if you decide that it is the most appropriate route to follow for your situation, having considered the range of mechanisms that are now set out on the Covid-19 webpages.

Access cluster PC software and your University files 

To help support your learning while you are away from campus, we have launched an online service which gives access to popular cluster PC software and your University files. 

The student Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has most of the software that is available on a standard University cluster PC.  You can log in to it from a PC, laptop or tablet that is connected to the internet via https://go.ncl.ac.uk/itservice/wvd.

Once you have tried it, we would welcome your feedback and you can submit comments or suggestions via the online feedback form

IT Support before and during your assessment

University IT support is available 24/7, and can be access via +44 (0)191 208 5999 at any time, or by email on it.servicedesk@ncl.ac.uk (monitored 08:00-17:00 BST, Monday to Friday).

For your own peace of mind before the assessment period begins, and to ensure you are prepared, we strongly recommend that you:

  • Check you have your University username and password
  • Make sure you can log in to Blackboard or any other online systems that are required
  • Try accessing software you may need such as Microsoft Word.

You can access the full suite of Microsoft Office applications at https://office365.ncl.ac.uk - simply log in and click on the ‘app launcher’ in the top left corner.  If you require IT help or advice, contact the IT Service Desk.

Semester 2 Assessment Period Timetable

The timetable for the Semester 2 Assessment Period was released on 21st April. You can access your personal online timetable via the following link and by using your normal network login: https://examtimetables.ncl.ac.uk/

Due to a few essential changes to some of the assessments, you are advised to login and re-check your personal timetable. Please check your timetable periodically and ensure that you are available for the whole of the assessment period (18th May – 5th June 2020).

Quiet Fridays

Last week, the University introduced 'quiet' Fridays to encourage colleagues to keep them meeting free. We hope that by doing this colleagues will be able to catch-up on work and gain more time to answer queries and concerns from students with fewer disruptions from meetings. Students can continue to contact staff and all services will be operating for students as normal.

Support for Students Experiencing Financial Difficulties

Once again I’d like to remind you that if you are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the current disruption, you may eligible for support from the University’s Hardship Fund.  Further information can be found on the Student Financial Support website.

NUSU mental health campaign

NUSU is running a mental health campaign - Permission to Pause - to support students during the exam season. The campaign, which will be launched on 4th May, is designed to help students take a break and practice self-care. Because of Covid-19, NUSU will be running this campaign digitally via their Facebook page. Here you'll be able to access free sports classes (such as yoga and dance), workshops (such as Arabic lessons and baking) and social activities (such as a virtual dog cafe and Zoom quiz).  These events will run from 4th May to 5th June.  For further information please contact Sara Elkhawad, Welfare and Equality Officer, NUSU at welfare.union@ncl.ac.uk.

And Finally…NUSU Co-op offer

For those of you still in Newcastle, the NUSU Co-op are offering all students and recent graduates of 2020 who are working for the NHS during the pandemic a free meal deal from the Co-op, to say thank you for the work you are doing on the frontline. Just show your student card and NHS verification (i.e. ID or email) at the till to be eligible. Further information is available on the NUSU website

All students still in Newcastle may also like to note that the Co-op on campus is up and running with deliveries having now signed-up with Deliveroo.  If you are self-isolating and / or in need of a groceries delivery, you can get a contact-free delivery via the Deliveroo website or app. 

With best wishes,

Lucy Backhurst

Academic Registrar