Outrage as coronavirus prompts US universities and colleges to shed staff

<span>Photograph: Nina Westervelt/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Nina Westervelt/Rex/Shutterstock

Ahead of the coming reopening of further education, universities and colleges around America are beginning to announce massive layoffs and job cuts, citing financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public and private university systems announcing cuts to staff, pay and benefits include the University of Massachusetts, California State University, Boston University, University of Arizona and many others.

Related: Universities plan for students’ return – but will US campus life ever be the same?

But the actions have not gone unopposed and have triggered protests, outrage and lawsuits from staff and unions in an attempt to halt, or even reverse, the layoffs.

Budget shortfalls have already resulted in steep cuts to higher education funding from state governments around the US, as state university systems are losing millions in revenue with severe gaps in federal relief to cover the losses. Private colleges are also grappling with deficits

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Outrage at Open University as exam marks given out are based on former students’ results

Three graduates in graduation robes - PA
Three graduates in graduation robes – PA

Students at the Open University (OU) are outraged at having received grades based on the results of former students after the institution used a statistical model to calculate scores for cancelled assignments. 

The institution cancelled half of all final assignments during lockdown – even if they were contact-free.

One student said that classmates had received “sudden” downward adjustments to their marks for “opaque” reasons. She called the situation a “disgrace”. 

The OU said it made the statistical adjustment by analysing data from students with comparable scores, who sat the modules the past three times the course has run, and the students’ existing grades.

Students, who have received lower grades than what their previous modules should have averaged, said they will now find it harder to achieve the final degree classifications they had been expecting. 

One student received a final grade of 77 per

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Outrage in Detroit after teenager detained for missing online homework


The detention of a 15-year-old girl who was said to have violated her probation for not completing her online schoolwork during the pandemic has sparked uproar in a suburb in Detroit.

The teenager, named only as Grace in an extensive report by ProPublica, was sent to Children’s Village in Oakland by a judge who ruled she broke her probation by failing to complete her school work remotely.

Grace, who is black and has ADHD, has reportedly been detained at the centre since mid-May.

The decision has sparked outrage from students, teachers, and residents who organised a protest outside her school and a court in Michigan on Thursday, holding up signs that read “Free Grace” and “Black Lives Matter”.

The teenager had initially been placed on probation in mid-April after facing assault and theft charges. The charges stemmed from an incident involving her mother and the theft of a classmate’s

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