UK universities consider post-lockdown blended teaching for Indian students

Aditi Khanna

London, Jun 5 (PTI) With the coronavirus lockdown gradually easing, UK universities have agreed a set of basic principles with a blend of on-campus and online teaching forming the basis of the approach for both domestic as well as international students, many of them from India.

Universities UK International (UUKi), an organisation that represents 143 UK universities, called on Indian students to stay in contact with their respective universities for guidance as the lockdown situation evolves in the UK as well as India.

“We know that face-to-face teaching is important to students, and we can see from the announcements in the last few weeks how universities are working hard to achieve this with measures to ensure that students are kept safe on campus,” said UUKi Director Vivienne Stern.

“Universities will be regularly communicating with students about the specifics of their course in the coming weeks. Indian students should talk to the university they are interested in studying at as the situation evolves, but in general, UK universities will be delivering a blended approach where possible,” she said.

Universities in the UK are starting to make announcements about what the return to university will look like in the autumn term, which begins towards the end of September.

Although universities will have to make local decisions depending on their own circumstances, a common set of principles have been devised to ensure consistent priority is given to considerations such as the health, safety and wellbeing of students.

Included in the set of principles is that “universities will develop effective processes to welcome and support international students”.

International students currently in the UK have been sharing their experiences of being at university during COVID-19, including how they have found online learning, through the “We Are Together” social media campaign.

“Initially, I thought it would be difficult to cope with academics, but Solent University has been absolutely helpful in regards to providing online resources, assessment guides and mental health tools,” said Sejal, a student from India.

Many universities have already announced plans to combine as much face-to-face learning for small seminars and tutorials as possible, with those parts of the university experience which will be difficult to deliver in a socially distanced way, delivered interactively online.

All universities that have made announcements are still planning for some in person teaching. This blended approach will allow universities to observe social distancing rules while still ensuring students have access to face-to-face contact with teaching staff.

UK Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Our universities continue to be open to international students and we are working to be as flexible as possible, making processes as easy as they can be for overseas students, to help them make decisions and confirm their places for the coming year.' Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, Professor Edward Peck, added: “Each of our campuses will be open for the next academic year, 2020-21. We will be offering a mixture of on-campus, in-class teaching alongside online learning.' Universities in the UK have taken a mixed approach through the lockdown, with the University of Cambridge and University Manchester planning to move most of its teaching online. The University of Oxford has indicated that it plans to incorporate face-to-face teaching as far as possible. PTI AK PMS PMS