The Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) has called for further changes to the university’s COVID-19 policies in a letter to a number of the university’s senior staff members.
The letter, addressed to Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Morrow, asks for the university to consider implementing a policy in which students who receive a grade lower than their GPA at the start of the semester can have this grade removed from their academic transcript and replace with a ‘PASS’ grade. This would have no effect on a student’s GPA, meaning in theory that no student’s existing GPA could be negatively affected by their grades this semester.
The university’s current response to COVID-19 allows for students who receive grades between C- and C+ to receive a ‘PASS’ grade. The AUSA argue that this approach may already incentivise students to perform worse than they potentially could in order for their GPA to remain unchanged, and that adopting their recommendation would allow students to do their best given the circumstances without the stress of maintaining their GPA.
“At a time when students are at home, often alone or in Flats with others, studying is a positive force and something that can help maintain wellbeing over this time,” the letter reads. “We believe that students will be much more inclined to participate fully in their studies, and perhaps more creatively too, if they can go into this Semester knowing that at least they won’t be discounted if their academic performance suffers due to the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in.”
The recommendation is endorsed by the AUSA student council; this includes presidents of each faculty and school association, Ngā Tauira Māori and Auckland University Pacific Islands’ Student Association.
The AUSA highlights that during the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple universities around the world have adopted similar policies. These include high ranking universities such as Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Melbourne.
The AUSA’s proposal has so far proven popular with students, with their Facebook post amassing 1,300 reactions and over a hundred comments; the vast majority of which are in support of the policy. As of the time of publication, the university has not yet taken any action to implement the AUSA’s recommendations.