What are UK Universities Planning for the Next Academic Year?

With a third of students saying they would feel ‘not at all safe’ if teaching returned to normal in September, plans for UK universities are a hot topic. So, what can you expect if you’re heading to university this year? 

Almost half of students are expecting to be taught online in the first term of the coming academic year, so things will be slightly different for the meantime. Yet, with a record number of students applying to university this year, it’s safe to say university will go ahead no matter what.

So, what can you expect when attending university this year? Here’s what you need to know.


What are universities planning for September?

The Department for Education has released guidance for reopening higher education campuses, which provides insight into how universities are expected to operate.

The good news is that in-person teaching and social opportunities won’t be as condensed as initially thought. In fact, 97% of universities are planning to provide some sort of in-person teaching at the start of 2020’s academic year

Additionally, 87% of universities are planning to provide in-person social opportunities, including outside events, sporting activities and wellbeing activities. This all bodes well for students heading into university in a few months’ time.


Will studying be in-person or online?

A blended learning approach is likely to be implemented in most universities, where there will be a mix of in-person and online teaching. As well as making campuses more secure, this is likely to relieve a lot of anxiety for university students, with the majority of students saying that this would make them feel safer than experiencing only face-to-face teaching.

The University of Manchester is taking this approach, insisting that the blended learning will be completely worth the full tuition fee. Their tactics, which will undoubtably be replicated across the UK, will see students heading into the classroom for tutorials but taking lectures online.


What is a 'bubble'?

It’s likely that students in the UK will live and study with others on their course, creating a ‘social bubble’ to reduce the risk of infection. These bubbles are intended to preserve as much of the university experience as possible while social distancing measures are in place, and will apply wherever you are on campus.


What will campus be like?

Most universities across the UK are working to create a COVID-secure campus in preparation for the upcoming academic year. With increased cleaning measures and the use of outdoor spaces where possible, this range of protective measures will reduce the rate of contact across campus.

Campuses will use a one-way system to minimise contact, which staff and students are expected to use. Additionally, facilities will restrict the number of people interacting, to keep the environment as safe as possible.

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