Universities across the UK favour a blended approach to teaching in the 2020-21 academic year, a survey has found.
The Times Higher Education snapshot survey found that institutions which responded to their survey were planning to offer a ‘blend’ of face-to-face and online teaching, in the hope that students will gain the ‘full university experience’ and avoid deferring their studies by a year.
The news comes as the University of Southampton confirmed in a statement that they are ‘looking forward’ to opening campuses as part of a ‘blended’ approach of online and face-to-face teaching at the start of the 2020-21 academic year, on 28th September 2020.
President and Vice-Chancellor Mark E. Smith confirmed that ‘our message is clear: our campuses will be open in September.’
Many other universities have confirmed their approaches. Cambridge University have stated their intention to deliver all lectures online for the entirety of the academic year, whilst several other Russell Group universities including Manchester, Queen’s Belfast, Warwick, and Edinburgh also confirmed that they would be delivering, or intending to deliver, a mixed approach with online teaching combined with some form of face-to-face delivery.
The Universities of Exeter and Manchester have given particular details of their plans. Exeter’s Vice Chancellor, Sir Steve Smith, told Times Higher Education that the university was considering one-way systems, staggered start dates, limiting capacity on teaching and learning spaces, and closing common areas in accommodation. Meanwhile, Professor April McMahon, Vice Chancellor at the University of Manchester, said the university’s plan to deliver all lectures online helped ‘free up’ lecture spaces for small group teaching, which could be socially distanced in large lecture theatres.
It is suggested that a policy will be laid out for universities to follow, as the University and Colleges Union raised concerns over a lack of consistency in planning for the next academic year, which may lead to deferrals.
All of these plans are in line with government advice and subject to change.