Update: Second Year Modern Languages Students Launch Petition Against UoS Grade Policy

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Following announcements that neither their first or second semester work will count, second year Modern Language students have created a petition calling for the University of Southampton to reconsider their policy.

The petition, created on Change.org, explains that ‘languages students take modules which last a whole year.’ This means that they do not have first semester grades. Since the University announced that only semester one grades would count, and second semester grades were to be considered in degree classifications following backlash, this means none of the second year Modern Languages students’ work will count. The students have been told ‘our second year has been discounted and will only be considered at the end of our degree if we are on the cusp of a different classification.’

Katie Pearce, who created the petition, says in petition that students are ‘exceedingly disappointed to find out that this year’s work will be completely disregarded and ignored, in spite of the financial and mental sacrifices.’

Pearce also told Wessex Scene that:

As you may be aware, the University’s policy only takes into account the marks students have received in semester one but many Modern Languages modules are “full-year” modules. As a result, the University has decided to discount our entire year, despite the fact that we have all submitted coursework, taken at least 15 credits in semester one and we have submitted “synoptic assessments” to replace our end of year exams. Modern Languages is a small and friendly cohort, but due to our small numbers, we are struggling to get our voice heard. […]  I understand that most students are disappointed with the classification policy, and rightfully so, but Modern Languages students feel that our whole year has been a waste of money and time.

The petition also made it onto Crushampton. On the anonymous site, the poster says that some students have already completed modules and they ‘do not understand why we cannot at least have some of our work since first year count.’ Not only have UK/EU students paid ‘£18500 for our education thus far‘, plus accommodation, living costs and textbooks, but intentional students have had to pay for it ‘out of their own pocket, […] are understandably feeling especially cheated.

The post goes on to say that ‘when we complain about this the university are offering us “mental health support” instead of promises of any change’ and all change is ‘nonsensical‘ and ‘very minor […] with EXACTLY the same conclusion- nothing will count.’

They complain that the University ‘haven’t even had the deceny to send out a proper email to people with a year-long module‘. The students are ‘sick of all the to-and-fro‘ and call on the University ‘to consider us and the emotional turmoil we have all been through.’

You can see the full post below:

#Crushampton42652PETITION, PLEASE SIGN: 2nd year Modern Languages (ML) students at the University of Southampton have…

Posted by Crushampton on Monday, 1 June 2020

In response to this outcry, a University of Southampton spokesperson has said:

The Modern Languages and Linguistics Department has written to their 2nd year students today to clarify that all their marks from this academic year will be used as part of the classification of their degree and apologise for any confusion caused by the initial communication.

Degree classification for all students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will be a two stage process where an initial calculation of their degree class may be uplifted following consideration of the profile of all marks from every year of study apart from the first year.

A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted Wessex Scene in regards to the email sent out by The Modern Languages and Linguistics Department. They said that ‘the vast majority of the modern languages students are still unsatisfied despite the recent communication [..] people want formulae of how much it will count, and just generally more clarity’.

They go on to say that they want ‘the University to release some hard figures and percentages, and some examples of scenarios in which our second year results would or wouldn’t be taken into account, that would be really helpful. These are all things that have generally been provided in other departments, as I’m sure you know.  We all feel that this mornings email from staff was yet again just another fairly useless rewording of policies that had previously been shared, and do not feel it is a sufficient response to our petition.’

Echoing this sentiments, Katie recently updated the petition with the following statement:

Today we received an email intended to clarify the classification policy, yet once again, the University showed a lack of transparency in its communication and has left many of us confused. It seems that the policy has simply been reworded and it appears that there is still no definitive inclusion of all our hard work this year. Whilst they indicate an acknowledgement of second year grades, the weighting of this is ambiguous and implies that our final year could be worth as much as 85%. The expectation was that our last year would be worth 57% and our second year would be worth 28%.

Many students have expressed worry about this, and implied that they would be under immense stress if this was the case. It would be unfair to expect us to sit exams without knowing how much they could account for in our final year. Therefore, we would like the policy to be altered in order to clarify the calculations of how much second year will now be worth as it has been for most other students.

You can sign the petition here.

At the time of writing, the petition has 1,221 signatures.

Wessex Scene have reached out to the University for comment.

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2019/2020 Deputy Editor. I'm a third year English with psychology student with a love for giraffes, travel and tea.

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