The Union at Manchester Metropolitan University
 

Advice Centre FAQs

Wednesday 07-10-2020 - 16:55

Wednesday 7 October, 17:10

Our Advice team has put together a whole load of answers to your common questions, so you can find the info you need as quickly and easily as possible. Click on the questions below to jump to your relevant section. 

 

How do I make a complaint about teaching?

How do I get a refund or partial refund?

Can I get a halls rent reduction?

I'm in University halls, do I need to self-isolate? 

I'm having IT and WiFi issues, what shall I do?

I'm considering withdrawing or deferring, what steps should I take? 

What support is available for students who are self-isolating?

I'm worried about going to lectures. I don't want my grades to be affected if I've still got to go in. What should I do?

Am I allowed to go home?

Am I legally allowed to be kept ‘locked in’ halls, or be made to self-isolate?

Am I allowed to put posters up in protest?

We’re self-isolating in private halls. How do we get access to things that Birley and Cambridge have like the £50 ASDA voucher?

I’ve got to self-isolate, but my course is practical. How do I get the uni to take this into account when grading?

I’m stressed and I can’t focus on my work. What about Exceptional Factors?

I’m already isolating, how long will this go on?

I’m ill, do I have to tell anyone?

How do I contact The Advice Centre?

 

How do I make a complaint about teaching?

There are two options and the Advice Centre can help with both.

The first stage of the complaints process is “Local Resolution” – this means talking to your tutors or Programme Leader. This allows the relevant people to react to the complaint and try to resolve it quickly. You need to think clearly about what your complaint is and what practical outcome you want.

If you want to go to the second stage – Formal Complaint – you can follow the university guidance here. You need to be clear about the issues you are complaining about, your expectations and the reality, and the outcome you are seeking.

The Advice Centre can talk to you about your options and can check statements/forms or other documents with you.

If you do not want to do either of those, you can tell us about your experience and this can feed into the work that the Student Officers do to make change across the University.

 

How do I get a refund or partial refund?

The University is not currently offering Tuition Fee refunds or waivers, however, Universities UK (UUK) and the National Union of Students (NUS) are putting pressure on the Government to help fund any refunds. Your Student Officers will be continuing to work this issue as the situation develops.

The Advice Centre can discuss your issues and assist you as well as helping feed your concerns into the Student Officers’ work.

It is important to note that your Tuition Fees don’t just fund your face to face contact time and space. They also fund the planning and preparation of courses; setting, marking and moderation of assessments; library facilities (including eBooks/eJournals); the support services offered; the computer systems used to deliver this; and the administrative staff who help the programmes to run. All of these are an integral part of what the University provides.

 

Can I get a halls rent reduction?

The University is offering a two-week rent reduction and £50 Asda voucher to students affected by the Birley/Cambridge lockdown that started on Friday 25 September. The Union is continuing to explore whether this support can be extended to other University halls and partner halls should they face similar lockdowns. We can’t say whether the financial package will be extended should the current lockdown continue.

It is important to note that private halls are operated by separate companies; any request for reduction in rent reduction would need to be direct to them rather than the University.

The Advice Centre can assist and help you to make your case; please contact us to discuss your issues. We can also feed your concerns into the Officers’ work.

Your Student Officers will be continuing to work with the University to revise its offering as the situation develops.

 

I'm in University halls, do I need to self-isolate?

At the moment, only Birley and Cambridge Halls are in a halls-wide self-isolation. Other halls, with lower concentrations of cases, may have individual flats who are expected to self-isolate in line with government guidance on preventing the spread Covid-19.

Please review the University guidance for self-isolation and be sure to follow it. Your own halls may also have specific guidance on self-isolation and the support they offer.

 

I’m having IT and WiFi issues, what shall I do?

Working WiFi and computer equipment is essential for study this year, especially when you’re self-isolating and unable to access University facilities. If you’re having WiFi access issues, you should contact MMU IT and your halls reception for advice.

If your computer equipment is broken and needs fixing, MMU IT may be able to offer some support or speak to your halls reception about how you can arrange for it to be taken to a repair shop on your behalf if you’re isolating.

 

I'm considering withdrawing or deferring, what steps should I take?

We really don't want to see you leave, but the Advice Centre can support you if that is what you decide to do. The Advice Centre can discuss the difficulties you are facing and help identify whether there are other solutions such as a suspension or additional financial support that could help. We’ll also weigh up the financial, housing and other consequences both now and for future study if you choose to leave or suspend.

If you’re planning to leave your accommodation and return home, then normally you wouldn’t be allowed to do this while you are self-isolating – there are possibly some exemptions where there are significant conditions and following the normal regulations wouldn't be possible, please see the guidance for more info.

The University has agreed with Public Health England to offer support in looking at COVID-secure ways of leaving and returning to your new household. You can email studentsupport@mmu.ac.uk for this support.

You should be aware that your new household (your family) will have to start a new 14-day self-isolation period and you should consider the risks with you and your family.

 

What support is available for students who are self-isolating?

The University has set out all the support available here.

 

I'm worried about going to lectures. I don't want my grades to be affected if I've still got to go in. What should I do?

The University have followed government guidelines to make their study spaces Covid-secure. This means that the way you move around campus, the wearing of masks in corridors and the spacing in the rooms you use are set to minimise risky contact (more than 15 minutes without a mask within two metres). As long as you follow those instructions, the government and the University believe you will be safe.

The University has now moved most teaching to online-only for the duration of block 1 (until Friday 30 October). They’ll review the situation at that point. The Union and campus will remain open so you’ll still have access to all services and support.

 

Am I allowed to go home?

The law and guidance is currently unclear on whether a short return home would be a “move” (and so likely allowed so long as you are not self-isolating) or a “visit” which is discouraged nationally.

Local rules in Manchester mean that you can’t meet people outside your household (your flat or shared houses) or “support bubble” either within the local restriction area or outside. You can only form a “support bubble” with your family if you live alone — being in a flat or shared accommodation is treated as your household.

If you are planning to leave your accommodation and return home, then normally you wouldn’t be allowed to do this while you are self-isolating. However, there are possibly some exemptions where there are significant conditions and following the normal regulations wouldn’t be possible. Please see the government guidance.

The University has agreed with Public Health England to offer support in looking at COVID-secure ways of leaving and returning to your new household. You can email Student Support for more information on this. You should be aware that your new household (your family) will have to start a new 14-day self-isolation period and you should consider the risks with you and your family.

If you do move home, there is no guarantee that you will be released from any housing contract in Manchester. These contracts are extremely difficult to get out of and the University’s time-limited approach is unlikely to be sufficient to satisfy any policies allowing release if the University moves completely to online-only teaching for the rest of the year.

The Advice Centre will be able to look over your contract and provide specific advice for you.

 

Am I legally allowed to be kept ‘locked in’ halls, or be made to self-isolate?

The Coronavirus Regulations require you to follow self-isolation rules in certain circumstances:

+ You show any symptoms of Coronavirus

+ You test positive

+ Someone in your household or support bubble tests positive or shows symptoms (this is usually your “flat” in halls – anyone you share a kitchen or living space with)

+ You are told to self-isolate by the NHS Track and Trace system

+ You arrive in the country from a high-risk area

In these circumstances you are expected to follow the rules relating to self-isolation — these are stricter than the social distancing we should all be practicing outside of our households/support bubbles. If one of these conditions applies to you, you are legally required to self-isolate. Please see the guidance and notify the University accordingly.

The Officers are pushing to ensure that you don't receive punishment, however the University may want to discuss any external penalties with you informally and repeat offenders may find that the University takes action for the continued failure to abide by the regulations for the safety of students, staff and the wider community.

These self-isolation rules are backed up by criminal fines that the police can issue. The University also has a Code of Conduct that expects you to follow any government policies on COVID-19.

Additionally, a Council, following Public Health England advice, “may give a direction imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions in relation to the entry into, departure from, or location of persons in, specified premises in the local authority’s area” under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 No. 3 Regulation 4. In this case, you should get official notice of this, including specifics of the regulations. It is unclear whether halls could be included and whether there is a difference between Manchester Met and private halls.

 

Am I allowed to put up posters to protest?

Posters in windows is something that can be restricted by your tenancy agreement. Manchester Met have confirmed that they will allow posters in windows after an earlier email suggesting otherwise.

We understand that the email was sent at the request of the Police who viewed some of the posters as potentially illegal. Freedom of speech and expression are important but need to be balanced with the need to not break the law. Hate speech can lead to police and university action and implications of illegal activity may draw the attention of too. Be respectful of those around you.

 

We’re self-isolating in private halls. How do we get access to things that Birley and Cambridge have like the £50 ASDA voucher?

Unfortunately, these items are currently only on offer to the Cambridge and Birley Halls. We don’t know if they will be extended to those in other accommodation.

You can find out what support is available to students who are self-isolating here.

Any packages for students in private halls would likely have to come from the private hall providers.

Your Student Officers are working with Manchester Student Homes and the University to put pressure on those halls providers to put in place support for students in their halls. You can speak to Manchester Student Homes or tell us about your experience and this can feed into that work.

The Advice Centre can also help to see what financial support is available to you (such as the Day-to-Day Fund and other crisis support) and help you to complain to your provider if you want to make an individual complaint.

 

I’ve got to self-isolate, but my course is practical. How do I get the uni to take this into account when grading?

Individual Programmes should have plans in place for this. You should follow the University guidance on how to notify them should you have to self-isolate or if you develop symptoms.

We are continuing to talk to the University about how they will manage courses that are impacted in this way and how they will ensure that the impact of COVID-19 related changes are taken into account when assessments are marked.

The Advice Centre can assist with your Exceptional Factors claim.

 

I’m stressed and I can’t focus on my work. What about Exceptional Factors?

If your ability to complete your assessments is affected by something outside of your control, you can submit an Exceptional Factors claim. This can give you a five day extension (this is the same as the “late submission period”, but your work would not be capped at a basic pass mark) or a “deferral” which means you will be asked to sit at the next opportunity (usually in the Summer) as if for the first time.

University guidance is available and The Advice Centre can give you more information about writing the statement and relevant evidence.

 

I’m already isolating, how long will this go on?

Everyone involved is hoping that this won’t be a continual chain and the University has recently issued guidance in co-operation with Public Health England.

We now know that most students in Birley and Cambridge halls will be ending isolation on 9 or 14 October depending on their test results.

 

I’m ill, do I have to tell anyone?

Yes. You should tell the University via the absence monitoring portal on the MMU app and also inform the NHS Track and Trace system if you have Covid-19 symptoms. The NHS system will ask you who you live with so be prepared to give that information.

If you are worried or experience any backlash from correctly telling NHS who you live with, you can tell the University and they can consider action under the Code of Conduct.

Similarly, if someone falsely says they have been in close contact with you when they haven’t, this can be considered under the Code of Conduct as bullying or harassing behaviour. In this case, sadly, unless the NHS Track and Trace service advises otherwise, you may have to self-isolate as instructed.

The Advice Centre can help with this.

 

How do I contact The Advice Centre?

The Advice Centre is available:

+ By filling in our Make an Enquiry Form— this is best as it allows us to collect information about you that may be relevant to your case and our statistics which will allow us to identify trends more easily

+ By emailing us at s.u.advice@mmu.ac.uk

+ By leaving a voicemail at 0161 247 6533 with your name, telephone number, student ID, and brief description of your question

We aim to respond to all phone calls and emails within two working days, but are often quicker than this.

If we phone you back it will be via an unknown number. We generally call back between 10:00-16:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 10:00-18:00 on Tuesdays. If there are bad times to call, please let us know.

If you’d like to meet with an Adviser on Zoom or Teams, just let us know. We will set a time and send you an invite to the meeting within the times above. Again, please let us know of any unsuitable times for this meeting.

You can also find loads of useful information in the Advice Centre section of our website. 

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