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King’s replies to postgraduate students’ concerns over their ‘unfair safety net’ policy

On June 4, King’s postgraduate students received information outlining the decisions made by the university regarding the safety net policy and the reasons behind those. The response has not been sent to all students, but to Evie Aspinall who had started a petition to reinstate “a proper KCL Postgraduate taught safety net policy” earlier in May.

Following KCL’s decision to revoke postgraduate ‘safety net’ policy in mid-May, numerous postgraduate students were outraged and sought different ways to request a more just system. Postgraduate student Evie Aspinall created a petition that was sent to the university on May 26. This comes while KCLSU was encouraging students to share their thoughts through a survey. Following those joint efforts, KCL has replied to Aspinall with the “understanding (she) would pass on the information to others”. 

In the email she has received, the Principal’s Office outlines their reasons behind the decision on how to apply the ‘safety net’ policy to postgraduates:

The vast majority of postgraduate taught (Masters) students have not yet accumulated enough marks this year to apply a reliable safety net average for the year as a whole without unacceptably compromising academic standards. Whereas at undergraduate level we had the option to consider marks from previous years, this is not available at postgraduate taught (Masters) level. Applying this specific element was therefore just not possible. So we collectively took the decision to apply the element of the safety net policy which could feasibly and appropriately be applied at Postgraduate taught (Masters) level – a new rule governing borderline cases, to ensure that you have a strong chance of being awarded a higher classification if you are sitting at the borderline between classifications.” 

The email further states that all measures have been approved by the Academic Standards Sub-Committee and will not be subject to change. The university also uses this opportunity to “reiterate (their) commitment (to making sure) no student – pre-undergraduate, undergraduate or postgraduate – is disadvantaged academically by the uncertain times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

While the office believes they “have all the appropriate mitigation measures in place to honour our commitment to you that no student is disadvantaged,” Aspinall does not agree. She told Roar that:

“I am disappointed that the University has decided to ignore the concerns of so many students. They can deny that the policy changed but they can’t deny the fact that students and staff were misled by the University’s communications and that many students will be very negatively affected as a result. It’s disappointing that they refuse to take responsibility for the impact of their actions and continue to claim that students are being treated fairly when this is anything but the case. I’d hoped for more King’s.”

She further mentioned she has been working out possible next steps with other students. Roar will keep you updated. 

Find the full email and Aspinall’s (already sent and ‘resolved’) petition here.

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