The number of good cause claims submitted more than doubled between the last two academic years as students complain the “No Detriment” policy should have remained in place.
The number of Good Cause claims made by University of Glasgow students more than doubled between the academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 as the “No Detriment policy”, in place for the former, was scrapped. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Glasgow Guardian showed that the number of Good Cause claims submitted by students in the academic year 2020-21 was 19,901, an increase of 11,481 compared to the previous year, which saw 8,420 claims made.
The “No Detriment” policy not being in place during the previous year likely prompted more students to turn to Good Cause claims. The Student Representative Council (SRC) called on the University to once again implement the policy as it did in the second semester of the academic year 2019-20 – when the Covid-19 pandemic began – and a petition started by a student gained over 2,500 signatures in favour of keeping the policy for the second year of the pandemic. The University said last year that the policy was not being reimplemented because assessments had been “designed in the context of the pandemic”.
The decision on Good Cause claims, which jumped most between the two years, was a decline based on “circumstances accepted but no manifest prejudice to performance”. The number of such outcomes increased more than five times over – from 113 decisions in 2019-20 to 662 in 2020-21.
A fourth year engineering student told The Glasgow Guardian that they had two Good Cause claims rejected for these reasons in the last academic year. The first claim was made on the grounds of mental health, and despite a letter of evidence from the student’s therapist which explicitly stated the effect on the particular course, the claim was rejected for failing to demonstrate that it had “manifest prejudice to performance”. The second claim was made when the student’s learning and teaching manager informed them that one of their answer files was corrupted, and so instructed them to make a Good Cause claim.
The student appealed the mental health claim, but since it was not an exam-assessed course they were told they would have to sit the entire course again. In the two courses for which the claims were made, the student ended up with grades of D1 in both. Overall between the last two academic years, this student went from an average grade of A5 to an average grade of C1, which was “just barely enough to progress to 5th year, and scuppering any realistic hopes of a first”.
Commenting on the University’s decision not to implement “No Detriment” in the last academic year, the student told The Glasgow Guardian: “I think it was a dereliction of duty on the part of the decision makers. In spite of any rhetoric to the contrary, 2020-21 was manifestly under more trying and difficult circumstances than 2019-20. Anyone who tries to claim lecturers and students were “used to” the pandemic in 2020-21 has clearly not spoken to anyone I know about it.”
A UofG spokesperson said: “At this time of year there will be claims still to be considered by the regular autumn Exam Boards. In addition, due to staggered teaching that took place in the last session there may be extra claims still live in the system.
“We would not expect there to be any reassessment of grades for students who have graduated.”