Following the decisions of Russell Group universities like Cambridge and Manchester to proceed with online lectures for the first semester in Autumn 202o, Vice Chancellor and President Professor Mark E. Smith has made a tentative statement of intent ahead of an expectation ‘to be able to provide greater clarity to [students]by the end of June’.
With the exception of a ‘small number of postgraduate courses’ which will start later, Professor Mark E. Smith announced in his statement that the University of Southampton’s campuses in Southampton and Winchester will be ‘welcoming as many new and returning students from the UK and around the world as possible’ at the start of the academic year on 28th September 2020.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, Smith in his statement explains the need for a new ‘blended approach’ of face-to-face, online and independent learning. He says that ‘[o]ur commitment to you is that whatever the balance, we will be supporting you as you learn and giving you the best possible opportunities to enjoy and benefit from your experience as a Southampton student.’
Moving on to protective measures, Smith announces that the University will limit numbers and gatherings as part of their commitment to ‘provide a safe campus environment to the highest possible standards.’ He also notes that with these protective measures, the University will ‘at all times be guided by the prevailing government and medical advice.’
With international students potentially being subject to the UK’s 14-day quarantine restrictions, the University have also pledged to ‘provide practical support’ to those who may potentially be affected.
As for more precise information about how courses, accommodation and social activities will work, Smith explains that in light of official Government guidelines regularly changing, ‘we are continuing to work through the practical details of how we will provide a rich and fulfilling education experience whilst ensuring adequate social distancing in our teaching, communal and social areas.’
As mentioned, Smith explains that given the complexity of this issue, ‘we do not have all the answers yet. We expect to be able to provide greater clarity to you by the end of June.’
He ends by saying that ‘until then our message is clear: our campuses will be open in September.’
Postgraduate students on courses that may be affected by a later starting date will be contacted ‘shortly’ with a confirmed starting date.
You can read the full statement here.