Goldsmiths continues to respond to the changing Covid-19 situation, putting in place appropriate measures at the right time.
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Goldsmiths is open for learning in line with guidance for higher education, with a range of Covid-19 safeguards in place to prevent the spread of the virus, protect and support our students, staff and the local community and shield the NHS.
Learning and assessment
Since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, Goldsmiths has worked to create ‘no detriment’ or a ‘safety net’ for students’ learning through this difficult time. This has developed over the past year and reacted to changes in government guidelines.
In the spring 2020 term, we put in place exceptional regulations and amendments to existing policies that were in place at the start of the 2019-20 academic year. These changed our Extenuating Circumstances Policy (used if something unforeseen affects a student’s work). We also amended degree calculations.
Preparation for 2020-21 academic year
Over summer 2020, every degree programme was reviewed, and amended programme specifications were published. Changes included amending the delivery of scheduled teaching sessions and the format of summative assessments. Programme changes were approved by the College, including in partnership with external professional, statutory or regulating bodies where applicable.
This, along with some further changes to our regulations and policies, meant we were ready to support all students to continue to engage with their studies and complete required assessments, taking the pandemic's ongoing circumstances into account.
Further changes in 2021
We have kept all our changes and actions under review as the pandemic has continued.
The national lockdown restrictions England imposed on 5 January 2021 created a different situation once again. These affected different students in different ways, depending on their own circumstances and their programme of study.
We made further changes in our approach to Extenuating Circumstances to allow all requests to extend deadlines by up to 10 working days, made due to the impact of the pandemic, to be permitted.
We issued a set of new approaches to calculating final degree classifications to ensure that students’ achievements continue to be measured fairly through these processes. We have also amended the regulation concerning repeat attempts at failed assessments taken for the first time during the current academic year (2020/21).
We believe that in taking these careful steps, we provide all students with the full range of measures possible to take account of the current situation and enable them to successfully complete their studies.
Returning to in-person activities
As part of the UK government's plan to ease the lockdown in England, in-person activities are allowed to resume for university courses requiring practical teaching, specialist facilities, and on-site assessments. Following this guidance, we have reviewed our provision and have started to offer in-person activities.
This means some teaching and giving access to facilities like the Library and study spaces and practice spaces like art and design studios, music rehearsal spaces and labs. It also means offering face-to-face wellbeing and counselling support should an individual need this.
Since October we've had measures in place on campus to ensure social distancing and we ask our students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings (unless exempt). Everyone coming to campus must be tested for Covid-19 each week and we have free testing on-site.
To keep our campus safe for those who need access to our facilities the minimum number of cleaning staff required to clean the College will be working on site. All cleaning staff are provided with training and PPE relevant for their tasks and adhere to our risk assessments and procedures that incorporate the latest government public health advice.
The College is ensuring all colleagues can carry out their duties in the safest possible way, with a range of Covid-19 safeguards in place both on and away from campus.
Some of the steps we are taking
People on campus
- Reducing the number of people on campus to minimal levels
- Delivering NHS Covid-19 testing on campus for students and staff
- Clear Hands, Face, Space guidance for people using campus
- Adapting Library and study space provision so we can continue providing students with access while reducing staffing requirements
Students in accommodation arranged through Goldsmiths
- The College has set aside up to £500,000 to go towards up to six weeks of accommodation fees for those students who have a place in our student halls accommodation managed by Goldsmiths or its nomination partners and who have been unable to use their rooms after the Christmas closure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. This funding is intended to reflect costs incurred for the period 4 January-6 April 2021
- The Warden has written to the Universities Minister asking the Government to offer more financial support to students including making additional student hardship funding available and writing-off this year’s tuition loans
Staff unable to work
- Furlough for colleagues who are unable to undertake their duties remotely and who cannot come to campus: these colleagues will continue to receive their full salary with Goldsmiths topping up government payments
- Provision of PPE items and training in how to use PPE, appropriate to people’s roles
- Updating risk assessments and keeping them under review, as we have throughout the pandemic. See our organisational risk assessment.
- Since April 2020 we have been working closely with our local authority, Lewisham Council, and local NHS partners to develop a plan to manage further outbreaks in the area
Throughout the pandemic the College is following four operating principles:
This means that they will be suitable for whatever phase of social distancing/lockdown we find ourselves during the academic year.
This resilience will enable us to adapt to last-minute changes as quickly and effectively as possible. This will ensure we can support our students to the best of our abilities whatever changes occur next year.
Quality and standards
We will prioritise the quality and standards of the education that we provide, ensuring a focus on delivery of education that is of our usual high quality.
Any adaptations to the curriculum we deliver and the way in which we deliver these will have been subject to careful scrutiny through our usual internal and external standards.
This will ensure that our students are receiving the same quality and standard of education even where it differs from how we would previously have provided learning and teaching.
Parity for students
This means that whatever social distancing/lockdown situation a student finds themselves in they should be able to access our education in some form, whether online, in person or a combination.
Health and safety
For everything we do we will ensure that the health and safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount.