RIASA Safety Net Policy

The university introduced a Safety Net policy on Monday 1 February 2021.  This enhances measures in place at Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy (RIASA) to ensure that student-athletes are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring that the programme’s academic and athletic standards are maintained. The policy also recognises the practical, social and emotional challenges student-athletes have had to face in recent months, and outlines the support we continue to offer.

The measures which have been put in place at RIASA since March 2020 are focussed on these key areas:

  • Commitment to high standards of flexible online and blended learning while ensuring the value and quality of awards remains – excellent teaching with the reassurance of dual accreditation remains our priority;
  • Continuing to provide the highest levels of student-athlete support – from sharing information of the latest developments on COVID, to keeping student-athletes updated on the university’s response;
  • Ensuring the best student-athlete experience possible – being flexible and agile, responding to student feedback and taking action quickly to ensure student satisfaction.
  • Delivery of an extensive online athletic programme for student-athletes – including synchronous coaching sessions, and athlete development activities and athlete-centred resources.

We recognise there will be challenges for the programme, but we will endeavour to rectify any such problems as soon as they arise and keep the RIASA community informed with any relevant updates.

Commitment to quality of online and blended learning

RIASA’s aim is to make sure that a student-athlete’s overall performance for the year is not negatively affected by circumstances associated with the COVID-19 period, while simultaneously ensuring that the quality of our awards is maintained.

RIASA has restructured its teaching to ensure that all of our student-athletes, wherever they are located, are provided with a high standard of flexible online learning, with blended learning offered when and where possible.

“Our top priority is to provide students-athletes with an excellent quality of teaching, even if we adjust the way we teach. We remain committed to providing the best possible online learning experience for our student-athletes, which will include digital resources such as videos, podcasts and interactive content, personal teaching support, plus engagement with fellow student-athletes from around the world. Any student-athlete who chooses to study online for the rest of the academic year will not be negatively impacted by this decision.”

Dr Colin Howley Director of RIASA Programme.

The University’s Academic Board has approved Emergency Academic Regulations for Examinations and Examination Boards for Spring 2020 – Summer 2021. These supportive measures include:

  • Waiving of the re-sit administration fees
  • Suspension of the Attendance Policy and the Late Arrival to Class Policy
  • A streamlined short-term extension process from the instructor, with revised evidence requirements
  • A streamlined longer-term extension or re-sit process with revised evidence requirements and a faster approval
  • The inclusion of guidance on technical issues as a mitigating circumstance
  • The introduction of enhanced engagement tracking to support student-athlete balancing time zones and family/personal circumstances during remote learning
  • Enhanced use of the Virtual Learning Environment for online exam submissions, and additional time for quant-based subjects
  • Online drop-in sessions with academic advisors and Registry Services 
  • For those who are completing their degrees
  • Additional consideration at the University Exam Board of degree classifications for graduating student-athletes with cancelled internships at University Exam Board
  • Additional consideration at the University Exam Board of degree classifications for graduating student-athletes under the Emergency Academic Regulations to ensure no detriment

Other initiatives include:

  • Across the curriculum, assessment formats have been revised to allow student-athletes to complete them remotely
  • This has been accompanied by increased emphasis on academic misconduct, to ensure standards are maintained
  • Support for student-athletes with specific educational needs
  • Virtual tutoring and mentoring
  • Virtual study halls and support with time management
  • Open access workshops in academic writing and maths
  • Virtual library support

Commitment to quality of soccer coaching online

In order to ensure student-athletes maintain their fitness and well-being, the academy has put in place an extensive programme of both tactical and physical sessions.  These measures have been in place since January 2021: 

  • Student-athletes are required to take part in live soccer development sessions with academy Coaches.
  • 1-to-1 online sessions with the Football Development Coach to update student’s ILPs.
  • An in-depth programme of Strength & Conditioning is provided and monitored by the Sports & Conditioning Coach.  This is distributed daily through the TrueCoach app.
  • A weekly live session with the Strength & Conditioning Coach takes place with additional tutorials on nutrition and lifestyle with an opportunity for students to ask relevant questions with regards to their well-being.
  • A weekly presentation by a guest speaker allows the student-athlete to share the experiences of former students, professional football players and experts in the football industry.
  • A new partnership with The Coaching Manual offers the student an extensive resource of technical/tactical and game related sessions plus master-classes conducted by professional and premier league coaches and managers.
  • Student-athletes are required to complete a ‘Lock-down Diary’ to evidence the completion of all elements of the programme. 

“We are determined to continue the development of all our student-athletes whilst we remain in this challenging period.  The distance learning programme and delivery is designed to help all types of learning styles and prepare the student-athletes to hit the ground running in readiness for the restart at the Carnegie campus.”

Martin Hunter RIASA Football Strategy & Mentoring Officer.

Student-athlete support

Financial support

RIASA will be reimbursing accommodation costs if student-athletes are not using or unable to access accommodation at the Carnegie Student Village. We believe this is a reasonable and appropriate approach to this difficult issue.

Communication with students

At RIASA we know our students-athletes, and have worked with them throughout. We have used a combination of email, social media, our learning resource, Blackboard Learn. Our independent Student Government has supported our Student Affairs and our Recruitment and Admissions teams using direct communication with students (and their parents) to inform them of the latest university news.

Best possible student-athlete experience

A number of health and wellbeing measures have been introduced by the Student Affairs team to help ensure the best experience possible for students:

  • Weekly drop in Zoom sessions
  • Personal counselling
  • Free on-line yoga and meditation sessions
  • Media campaigns on a balanced lifestyle
  • Top tips from student leaders
  • Support for deliveries, medical assistance, and advice on COVID-19

Many of the clubs and societies organised by the Student Government and the Student Affairs team are meeting and organising activities virtually.  The Richmond Leadership Academy which provides opportunities for leadership development activities such as student representation, virtual work experience and volunteering, is also taking place virtually, as is the University’s Careers portal, events and services.

Student-athletes are also invited to participate in virtual student senate meetings where they can offer feedback on their degree majors and on individual courses. In addition, student-athletes are represented on University committees to ensure that their voice is not just heard but listened to and acted on.

“We are so proud of our student-athletes for how they have continued to adapt during this challenging time and we want to ensure that they have the best possible support to meet their goals resulting in a positive student experience. We are working continuously to help and guide our student-athlete community with learning and teaching, mental health, wellbeing and welfare resources.”

Kirsty Ibbitson RIASA Student Affairs Coordinator.