Students face a third consecutive year of e-learning, after a Observer the analysis suggested that most universities plan to offer a mix of in-person seminars and online lectures when school starts this fall.
This has sparked new calls for students to be reimbursed for at least a portion of the fees charged to them each year if they are primarily taught online. The exact mix of education will depend on social distancing rules and whether young people are doubly vaccinated on time.
“It’s just not fair to charge Â£ 9,250 a year for YouTube tutorials,” said Rhian Shillabeer, a sophomore political student who wrote an open letter to her university, Kent, signed by hundreds. of students. Shillabeer, who was angry that the three years of her degree were disrupted by the pandemic, called on universities to prioritize in-person learning.
Most universities plan to offer students a mix of in-person seminars and online lectures this fall. The exact mix will depend on social distancing rules and whether young people are doubly vaccinated on time.
University bosses are said to be frustrated with how slowly the government confirmed its plans for September, with social distancing advice on campus still not released. The delay, combined with the regulator pressure, the Students’ desk, to be more transparent, means that students were baffled by communications from universities outlining possible scenarios for the fall, ranging from near normal to mostly online depending on the progress of the vaccination campaign, the emergence of new variants and rules of social distancing.
The Russell Group vice-chancellors of research-intensive universities have urged the government to support the deployment of pop-up vaccination centers on campuses at the start of the fall term.
It would help avoid a repeat of the Covid epidemics which last year left thousands of students angry and isolated as they were forced to lock themselves in small rooms in residences.
Charlie Jeffrey, York University’s vice-chancellor, said: âThe most important thing is vaccination. This is a prerequisite for universities to operate as close to normal as we would like. I would like the government to consider this a priority, given the disruption that university students have had to face. Too often we have been an afterthought for government, and students have felt it and are not happy with it.
Jeffrey said that while York was considering which buildings could be reused for classes in the event of one-meter social distancing, it would not be possible to provide all of the instruction in person. âWe cannot build buildings in such a short period of time,â he said.
The survey conducted among 17 universities by the Observer has shown that many envision two main scenarios: one in which social distancing rules have been lifted, which means campuses return to normal, and the other in which distances of one meter must be observed, which would reduce the capacity of university buildings – potentially by a quarter – and force more online education.
Some universities are clear on their plans, such as Cardiff, which said all classes over 60 will be online, while others are more vague, including Durham, which said mixing online and nobody would depend on the course and the year of study. study, and UCL, which said some modules will be completely online while others will be taught using a mix of online and in-person instruction.
David Gordon, the general secretary of the student union at the London School of Economics, who has led students’ efforts to negotiate a reduction in tuition fees, predicted that another year of disruption would lead to further calls for reimbursement.
âI think the students will support a bit of online learning,â he said. “But if students are kicked out of campuses, don’t receive face-to-face instruction, or connect with each other or with faculty, you might see an increase in calls for compensation.”
Gordon added that students appreciated universities’ efforts to be more transparent with their students. âBut I know there are a lot of disgruntled students in universities where they haven’t done such a good job,â he said.
âThe universities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, that are struggling with their finances and their ability to deliver education, this is where communications have been more disparate, and students feel angry and forgotten. “
The Education Department was invited to comment, but did not respond.