A set of principles and supporting information for universities across the UK to consider as they emerge from lockdown has been released by Universities UK.
The ‘health, safety and wellbeing’ of students and staff was described as the ‘priority’ of the nine decisions in the easing of restrictions in universities, while another principle includes changing university layouts in accordance with public health advice.
The report also describes how ‘Universities will review their teaching’ and assessments, with suggestions including making steps in improvement in online delivery as well as exploring new ways of delivering in-person teaching ‘that adhere to guidelines on social distancing’.
Increased mental health support, regular reviews of hygiene and cleaning protocols, as well as improved communication with students and staff are also among the principles.
Universities UK also acknowledged that individual universities will have to tailor their approach according to their ‘settings and situation’, but the nine principles nonetheless highlight key considerations for UK universities.
In an open statement, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London, Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, and Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, promised in an open statement that ‘UK universities will be open and ready to teach … at the start of the new academic year’, adding:
Universities will provide as much in-person learning, teaching, support services and extra-curricular activities as public health advice and government guidance will support. This will include new ways of providing practical sessions in socially distanced forms, innovative approaches to extra-curricular activities such as welcome week programmes, and a continuation of important student services such as mental health and wellbeing support and careers advice.
They also stressed that times are still uncertain, so it is unclear to know what the world of university education will look like in Autumn, promising that:
universities are focused on their plans and will regularly update current and prospective students as their strategies for 2020/21 take shape.