At approximately 10am today, Vice Chancellor Mark E Smith sent out an all-student email as part of the University’s new daily coronavirus email update announcing that, following a meeting with the University’s Business Continuity Committee, they have made the ‘pragmatic’ decision to bring end of term forward by a week, so it ends today on Friday 13th March.
He explains that this has been done in light of the Government yesterday moving to the ‘delay’ phase of their plan to tackle coronavirus, as well as raising the national risk level from Moderate to High.
In the email, he reassures students that ‘we will keep any impact to the absolute minimum and ensure all students can successfully complete their term’s learning.’
With the Government giving no immediate advice regarding educational institutions, he explains that whilst no teaching will be taking place next week, ‘the University will remain fully open and operational in line with current Government advice, apart from the planned University closure days around Easter.’
For now, summer term is set to resume as normal on Monday 20th April, but the Vice Chancellor did list six other significant changes that would occur in light of the coronavirus:
- All international and UK field trips will be postponed for six weeks with immediate effect.
- There will be no international travel for University staff ‘unless demonstrated to be essential and an approved risk assessment is in place.’
- University staff will be asked to ‘think very carefully’ about any UK travel.
- The offer-holder visit day scheduled for 28th March as well as all other University conferences will be cancelled to ensure students get prioritised with any free gaps in residences.
- Summer graduation will be postponed until further notice. Instead, finalists will have a longer academic year to ensure the completion of their course.
- On Monday, a new staff absence hotline will launch so colleagues can communicate with the University about whether they need to self-isolate.
Despite these measures taking place, the Vice Chancellor reassured students that ‘colleagues will be working hard during the student vacation to put plans in place to support the immediate needs and future opportunities for delivering our teaching and learning, and to ensuring our final year undergraduate and postgraduate students can successfully complete their studies at Southampton.’
Wessex Scene have contacted the University for further comment.