Higher education student newsletter: 5 May 2020

Thank you for your ongoing contribution as a member of the B&FC community in pulling together during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I invite you to watch and share the following B&FC video 'Ready when you are' which outlines a little of our story to date, which I hope you enjoy.  
 
As you are aware, we are making some changes to summer assessments as a result of COVID-19. These arrangements are designed to ensure students are not detrimentally affected and minimise student anxiety, whilst protecting the quality of our higher education programmes and ensuring that students can complete their studies in the normal time-scale.
 
We are doing this firstly by moving assessments that would have required students to be on campus, such as formal examinations, to time-limited assessments for completion at home.
 
Secondly, recognising that this extraordinary situation will be creating additional pressures and there may be circumstances where performing in one or more assessed activities might prove challenging, the B&FC Personal Mitigating Circumstances (PMC) process provides us with an opportunity to consider your current unique context to ensure you are not disadvantaged.
 
Thirdly, for all assessments undertaken since the suspension of classroom teaching, Exam Boards will have additional checks in place to ensure that any adverse effects are taken into account when considering students' results. 
 
Please take a few minutes to review the updated information below. If you have any questions please contact your programme/module leader or progress tutor during normal teaching hours to discuss further.
 
Further detail on how COVID-19 will affect summer exams
We will not be conducting any assessments that require students to be on campus. Formal examinations will be changing to time-limited assessments completed at home. These will normally take place on the same date on which your existing assessment was scheduled.
 
Your lecturers and programme leader will be able to provide further information, guidance and support. To be consistent for all students, the duration of time limited assessments is now 15 hours (09:00 to 23:59). The 15-hour window ensures that no student is disadvantaged given the unique circumstances of every student during this pandemic; this also allows for any examination access arrangements.
 
Please note that the expectation is that you should, wherever possible, try to complete the assessment in the original time allowed for the examination.
 
You do not need to provide references as you would for a written piece of coursework but you should work to the provided word count. Assessments should be submitted via the College's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); Moodle or Canvas. If you are unable to do this, please contact your programme or module leader to discuss. 
 
To ensure that we, as a College, maintain the highest quality of our HE programmes, our marking and moderation processes remain the same, with all results being considered in the Boards of Examiners. 
 
Student Finance  
If you haven’t done so already, you will need to apply for your Student Finance for 2020/21. Please go to your online account to apply. Please note, if you are applying for a BA top up programme after your Foundation Degree, you will need to apply as a new student rather than as a continuing student. If you need any help with your application please email:  careers@blackpool.ac.uk
 
Please remember the following support is available to support you in your learning journey:
 
The Higher Education Learning Mentors (HELMs) team is continuing to provide a remote service to support all HE students with assignment planning, writing, referencing and editing.
Please email HELMinfo@blackpool.ac.uk with any requests. The HELMs team can then follow up via email, phone or Microsoft Teams.
 
Develop Your Skills and Employability - The Careers Team is still operating and is available to support you during this time. The team can help you with online support for mock interviews, CVs and application forms. If you would like a personal careers guidance interview to discuss your goals, aspirations, progression options and more, we can help you to formulate your ideas into a plan. 
 
Contact the Careers team by emailing careers@blackpool.ac.uk or by calling 01253 504474.
 
The Wellbeing team is providing a remote support service for students, both online and via telephone. If you would like to access this support, please fill in the online referral form at https://www.blackpool.ac.uk/getwellbeingsupport  You can also find a wide range of wellbeing services and resources if you visit our Student Frequently Asked Questions
 
Staying Safe online & working productively 
Please visit the following site to access government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-staying-safe-online . Also, BT and ITV have joined up to produce a series of videos offering Top Tech Tips, which some of you might find useful. They cover topics such as working productively from home, staying safe online and staying healthy. Visit:  https://www.bt.com/tech-tips
 
B&FC Students’ Union update
The Students' Union (SU) has been hard at work, creating a hub of enrichment activities which will be coming very soon to the SU website. This includes a whole range of things to do, uplifting messages from students and staff, competitions and resources to internal and external services. 
 
The Union is also working on hosting a general knowledge virtual quiz night that will take place via social media called The Big Blackpool Quiz. To request a themed quiz night simply head to the Students' Union website Contact Us page and let them know (in the Reason for Enquiry box select '#ShowKindness - Quiz Night').
 
The #Showkindness Hub and The Big Blackpool Quiz will be coming very soon. For updates please follow the Students' Union social media accounts and website: SU Website   SU facebook   SU Twitter   SU instagram
 
B&FC SU Exec team elections open from 9am on 4 May and close at 5pm on 15 May. Make sure to head over to the Students' Union website to cast your vote.
 
B&FC Students’ Frequently Asked Questions
For links to B&FC support during the COVID outbreak please continue to visit our Frequently Asked Questions https://www.blackpool.ac.uk/coronavirus/students and keep an eye on our social media for updates.
 
We continue to be grateful for any comments, suggestions and concerns you are raising with us directly or by email, via your lecturers, personal tutor and programme leader, the Students’ Union or your Course Rep. Your feedback helps us to continue to learn together to support your learning journey.
 
I hope you are staying safe and well and that the new arrangements that we are putting in place offer you some reassurance at this difficult time. Please continue to take care of your own wellbeing, and that of your family and friends, while following the government’s advice regarding social gatherings and staying at home. 
 
Best wishes,
 
Cheryl Dunn
Vice Principal Higher Education & Student Enhancement