The University of Leeds should make all submissions paperless

Passed: May 2018 (1st)

What's It About?

I would like the union to lobby the university to make all submissions across all subjects online only. This would hugely reduce the amount of paper used by students to submit essays, reports and projects.

I understand that this may not be possible for every submission, for instance I would imagine some art or design projects may only be submitted in the paper format, however I believe that for most submissions in most subjects and online submission only would not be problematic. It would also benefit students by removing the inconvenience of having to be physically present in Leeds to hand in work.

If this were implemented, I would hope that lecturers would not simply chose to print work for marking after it has been submitted, however overall I believe it would still greatly decrease the overall amount of paper used- especially if the Union lobbied the university to work with lecturers to find an online marking solution that all parties were happy with.

Why Have You Proposed It?

Whilst the paper used by 30,000 students is not an insignificant amount, it may seem like a small gesture in the grand scheme of things. However I believe that making all submissions paperless would be a strong positive statement about Leeds University's commitment to sustainability.

I believe students of my generation feel more empowered than any generation before us to do as much as we can to look after our planet. However our individual actions are not going to be enough to reverse the tide of global warming, it needs institutions and corporations to be involved too. Simply steps like this proposal allows students, the union and the university to work together to start making small steps towards a more sustainable future.

Expires: May 2021 (1st)

Submitted By: Budelia Probert Watt

Officer: Education

Area of Work: Sustainability


August 2020: This is happening! Covid has accelerated the need for all schools to offer this where appropriate (e.g. if you would ordinarily print out an essay to submit).

June 2020: Unfortunately there are no major updates to this work over the summer as a result of lots of LUU staff being furloughed (ongoing), as well as the LUU building and campus being closed. As staff return to work and the new Officer team settle into their roles this will be picked up again. However, the new academic year is likely to see a pronounced shift to online teaching and learning - which may well mean a move as well to digital submissions across schools.

January 2020: ART learned at the Student Education Conference, that POLIS have achieved e-submission and e-marking across the board as a School. ART to follow up with them to learn lessons from this change.

November 2019: Still an issue across the board, we need to keep working on this. Keep this ticking over, as we get to the point where this discussion broadens we need to be able to take part.

August 2019: A few sign-offs in the world of digital education recently; TopHat and Learning Analytics. Both digital tools that fill help advance the conversation around submission, and start to close in on some of the issues around lack of a common system.

July 2019: Larger e-assessment work from UoL will help this policy along. Issues with both: how e-marking works and the potential vendor, and also the consistency of this service (some schools are paperless and allow e-submissions). No reason schools can't adopt e-marking individually, but there wouldn't be a common system.

March 2019: PhD thesis final submission now digital only starting with researchers beginning on programmes September 2019.

September 2018: Serene and Academic Representation Team working with Digital Education Service to provide anecdotal info about student experience in order that Student Lifecycle Project can make the case for increase in e-assessment.

September 2018: Director of Sustainability working to collect data to create case studies on how much resource schools could save by going paperless.

May 2018: Exec raised this with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor on 15th May. There is a University-wide project, E-assessment, but wholesale E-assessment would require culture change across the University which is a slow process. Different practices in different schools require students to cover costs of printed submissions (links to hidden course costs)