How has COVID changed the autumn semester across the UK?

Official Updates, News

August 27, 2020

Whether you are starting your time at the University or heading back for another year, the fall semester is an exciting time. University life brings with it a lot of things to cherish for life – from career preparation to friends & networks. 
As an international student, it means even more preparations & excitement as the prospect of life in the UK, on top of everything else, gives you plenty of reasons to look forward to.

In light of the current pandemic, some plans may have been dampened or delayed, but all the Universities have come up with guidelines on how they are planning to proceed with the next semester. 

Many higher education institutions are responding to the challenge posed by the pandemic by making changes to their teaching and learning approach and to their campus. At the same time, efforts are being made to keep socially-distanced events for students to network as they embark on a new year. 

Most of the universities are taking a blended learning approach, which means that they are looking at a combination of online as well as in-person classes, the latter being fewer and smaller groups. Here’s what some of the guidelines that universities in the UK have issued.

University of Bristol
The University states that each study programme will have a number of hours of teaching on the campus each week, where students will be able to interact directly with tutors and fellow students. Some things will be different in the coming year - for instance, some of your teaching will be delivered online in engaging and interactive formats while we are unable to use our large lecture theatres.

As for other safety measures, they plan to use dedicated entrances, exits and one-way systems where this is possible. Other measures include issue of reusable face coverings, increased and dedicated cleaning times, dedicated sanitising stations in each location, among others.

In fact, the city's main bus operator, First, has introduced new timetables to accommodate social distancing requirements, with buses running at around half their normal capacity.

University of Lincoln
From autumn 2020 the University intends to provide an on-campus learning experience with the intention that teaching will be delivered through a mixture of face-to-face and online sessions.

There will be social activities in place for students - all in line with appropriate social distancing and fully adhering to any changes in government guidance as our students’ safety is our primary concern.

More specifically, the University has communicated that they will be using different digital tools for teaching including a dedicated online managed learning environment. All lectures for larger groups will be delivered online using interactive software and a range of different formats.

Practicals, workshops, studio sessions and performance-based sessions are planned to be delivered face-to-face, in a socially distanced way with appropriate PPE. 

University of Westminster
The University of Westminster has established very specific guidelines. General access to the University's buildings across our campuses is currently closed with plans of reopening of these buildings when it is safe to do so.

During Semester 1 of the 2020/21 academic year, the elements of practical teaching that cannot be delivered online will go ahead on campus.

The University will offer all students some on-campus experience opportunities during Semester 1 to meet lecturers and other students in their course, where it is safe to do so.

Imperial College
Imperial College, too, has made a pivot. All teaching, research, and training will start on schedule and will be a combination of on-campus (in-person) and remote (online). They call this ‘multi-mode’ delivery.

They’ve also introduced flexibility in how they’re conducting the classes, assessments and schedule in general. Understanding that everyone’s circumstances are different, if students are unable to travel to campus for the beginning of their programme, plans are being made to not let any student be disadvantaged in their learning experience over the course of the programme.

Communication is key!
If you have any questions regarding the modes & schedules for your university, do not hesitate in getting in touch with the International Students office or your academic department at the University. All Universities will keep all of their continuing students and new entrants updated on how their courses will be delivered and their opportunities for on-campus contact to ensure that students receive the best possible academic and student experience this autumn.

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