Most universities will teach students face to face this autumn, says UUK

The National Union of Students said students had not received enough information ahead of making a decision about where to study

Most universities hope to provide face-to-face teaching this autumn, a new survey from Universities UK (UUK) suggests, but the NUS questioned how clear institutions had been with applicants ahead of tomorrow’s Ucas deadline.

The organisation that represents 137 universities in the UK received responses from 92 institutions – 89 of which confirmed plans to resume some in-person teaching at the start of the autumn term.

Although most universities surveyed by UUK hope to restart some face-to-face teaching next academic year, every institution confirmed it will still rely on online resources to help deliver courses, with three higher education institutions (HEIs) choosing to deliver 100% of teaching remotely.

Of those HEIs that responded, 87% intend to offer students sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities on campus. According to the UUK survey, 95% of universities will also deliver student services – such as mental health support and careers advice – through a mixture of face-to-face and online support.

The survey suggests as many as nine in 10 universities have already communicated their plans to prospective students – with the remaining 10% said to be ready to release their strategies “imminently”. The Ucas deadline for students to respond to offers is 18 June.

During an interview on Today on Wednesday 20 May, Ms Dandridge said that the Office for Students were “asking all universities to make it very clear, certainly by the time students make decisions about where to go, about what it is they’ll be going to”.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, said: “Universities across the UK are well advanced in their planning to welcome students this autumn and ensure they can benefit from a high-quality, full and exciting university experience.

“Following the latest health guidelines, universities are continuing to develop detailed plans for the new academic year and will be regularly updating new and returning students over the coming weeks.

“Although their first term will be different from previous years, most students can expect significant in-person teaching and a wide range of social activities and support services. Universities are committed to providing an engaging academic and social experience for all while ensuring the safety and welfare of the whole university community.”

Even if most universities intend to provide at least some in-person classes, will they be available for all subjects, and what proportion of learning will be online?
– Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS

But despite UUK’s attempts to pour oil on troubled waters, the National Union of Students was today unconvinced by the sector’s reassurances.

NUS vice-president for higher education, Claire Sosienski Smith, feels the sector’s announcements amount to little more than ambiguous statements.

“It is still unclear exactly how teaching and learning will work next year. Even if most universities intend to provide at least some in-person classes, will they be available for all subjects, and what proportion of learning will be online? Students need to know what they are signing up to; we want them to be able to make informed choices.

“It’s absolutely vital that students are given choice and power over where and how they start their education. Universities and colleges need to give particular thought to the experience of disabled students and those who may be vulnerable to infection, and how reasonable adjustments can be made.”

Read more: International student visas: government has ‘weeks’ to reassure applicants, UUK warns

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