Universities across the UK sent their students home in March and moved lectures, graduation ceremonies and exams online. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced schools would begin to reopen in a phased manner, but universities operate independently. As autonomous institutions, they are developing their own roadmaps out of the pandemic, while adhering to guidelines set bu each country’s higher education regulator.
Will UK universities reopen in September?
The University of Cambridge has become the first university to announce all of its lectures in the coming academic year will move online as a result of the pandemic.
All lectures will continue virtually until summer 2021, the university said.
Some smaller teaching groups may be able to go ahead in person if social distancing measures are abided by.
A spokesman for the university said: “The University is constantly adapting to changing advice as it emerges during this pandemic.
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“This decision has been taken now to facilitate planning but, as ever, will be reviewed should there be changes to official advice on coronavirus.”
It looks increasingly likely that most universities will be open for the new academic year in September, but lectures and university life will differ from university to university as some still look to move their classes online.
While Cambridge University is the first to announce that lectures are moving online, others have spoken about their plans.
The University of Aberdeen has said it plans to delay the start of the new term by two weeks to September 21.
However, the university’s vice-principal Professor Ruth Taylor, has said that face-to-face teaching could be a possibility.
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When she first made the announcement, Professor Taylor told students: “We all hope that we will be able to deliver face-to-face teaching on campus in September.”
Professor Taylor added: “We will also prepare you for the delivery of teaching and learning in a way that will enable you to commence your studies online and to transition to on-campus study when circumstances allow.”
However, the situation is still uncertain as is displayed on the University’s website.
A statement reads: “At the current time, it is uncertain whether new and returning students, both from within the UK and internationally, will be able to be on campus in September for the commencement of the academic year.”
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Oxford University, meanwhile, has said it looks forward to welcoming students face-to-face back in October.
The university said: “Face-to-face teaching and research supervision will be complemented by high-quality online activities where necessary.”
How are universities planning to reopen?
Every university is different, but each will be looking at the phased return of activities and will need time to prepare and adapt their teaching set-up.
A spokesman from the University of Kent told The Sun: “Universities have continued to operate safely throughout the period of lockdown, delivering critical activities in research labs and supporting students who could not return home, as well as providing remote teaching and support services.
“The sector has been considered the health, safety and other measures which will need to be in place so that the full breadth of university activities can begin to transition back after lockdown at the appropriate time.”
“Following the most recent government update we await further detail on how and when the UK Government thinks this can be done in different circumstances.”
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