Update on COVID-19 guidance and teaching arrangements

As you may be aware, the UK Government have provided an update about COVID-related restrictions on universities this summer term.

You can read the full letter from Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities on the Office for Students webpages.

In the announcement it was confirmed that those students currently required to study wholly online must continue to do so until 17 May at the earliest.

The announcement also means there is no change for those students who are already back on campus or otherwise have in-person teaching scheduled this term. Students this applies to will have received detailed guidance from their department about teaching on their programme and this will go ahead as planned.

All undergraduate and postgraduate taught students should have received an email outlining what this latest update means for them, so please check your University email.

This latest update is, of course, disappointing and not what we had hoped to communicate to you at this stage of the year. The reason for this decision is not because in-person teaching is a particularly high-risk activity, but that the Government believes encouraging the movement of thousands of students across the country at this stage of the UK’s careful road back to recovery would risk a damaging increase in transmission of COVID-19.

Summer assessments

As with winter examinations, the summer assessments and resits will take place mainly online (except for some specific practical sessions). We have put a number of assessment support measures in place and these are now available to view on our examination webpages.

Plans for next academic year

The Government has previously set out its aim to lift most restrictions in England by late June, reflecting its confidence in public health measures including the rapid roll-out of vaccines in the UK. More than half of all adults in England have already received their first dose of vaccine.

With this progress in mind, we are planning for all students who are continuing next year to be back on campus in September. As long as public health guidance at the time allows, our aim at the beginning of the academic year is that face-to-face sessions for smaller group teaching, such as seminars, tutorials, workshops, and laboratory-based sessions, will take place in-person on campus. As we anticipate social distancing measures will be required, this will form part of a blended teaching approach where large group sessions including lectures will be delivered online.

Support available

Please remember that regardless of where you are currently studying, we have a range of support services in place, all fully accessible via our digital channels. This includes support with your studies through KnowHow, online access to our library services, help identifying and pursuing your chosen career, access to advice and guidance on everything from mental health to money issues, and a range of activities to help keep you occupied away from your studies.

We have also recently launched our new Summer Term Events Programme. Running until Friday 7 May, the programme has been designed to allow all students the time to focus on their wellbeing, while safely connecting with peers and our community, whether you are back on campus or online. Events include skills sessions, public lectures and careers workshops to guided walks, Guild ‘give it a go’ sessions and creative ‘crafternoons’.

It’s really important to continue to adhere to current public health measures to keep yourself and everyone safe. If you are on campus, this includes getting regular tests and wearing a face covering inside campus buildings, as well as outdoors on campus wherever maintaining a 2-metre distance may not be possible. You can find out more about on-campus safety measures on our COVID Safety hub.