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Cambridge to hold lectures online until 2021

The UK’s Cambridge University has announced that all lectures will be held online for the next academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Lectures at Cambridge will be online until 2021. Photo: http://publicdomainpictures.net

"Universities around the world are having to make similar decisions about how they will operate in the coming academic year"

The measures around lectures will remain in place until summer 2021. Smaller teaching groups may be allowed, although they will have to conform to social distancing requirements. 

“It is really important that universities let students know what they should expect”

In a statement, the university – which has around 3,100 students from outside the UK  – said that it is constantly adapting to changing advice as it emerges during this pandemic.

“Given that it is likely that social distancing will continue to be required, the university has decided there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year,” the statement said. 

“Lectures will continue to be made available online and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social distancing requirements. 

“This decision has been taken now to facilitate planning, but as ever, will be reviewed should there be changes to official advice on coronavirus.” 

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students said on BBC Radio 4 that it is increasingly likely universities will offer a “sophisticated blend” of online teaching and face to face teaching. 

However, she stressed that universities and colleges must provide students with clarity as they make decisions about where to go this autumn. 

“It is really important that universities let students know what they should expect…Will they be going to a primarily campus-based experience or is it going to be online or is it going to be a mixture?” she said. 

“I think what we will see over the next few weeks is that becoming increasingly clear, as universities and colleges start communicating with their students about next year if they haven’t done so already.”

President of the National Union of Students, Zamzam Ibrahim, said that NUS welcomes measures that prioritise students’ safety.

“It is important institutions take measures to do this in light of the ever-changing pandemic. Students need clarity as to what they can expect from the next academic year in order for them to make informed choices and all staff must continue to be paid regardless of this decision,” said Ibrahim.

“The government needs to move quickly to work with the higher education sector to ensure that all students are able to receive quality education next year and have the resources they need to engage with online learning.

“Students must be given the opportunity to redo this year at no extra cost, or to have their course fees reimbursed or written-off.”

Universities around the world are having to make similar decisions about how they will operate in the coming academic year.

In the US, the California State University has recently announced that its courses will primarily be delivered virtually for the fall 2020 term. 

“This approach to virtual planning is necessary for many reasons,” said CSU chancellor, Timothy P. White

“First and foremost is the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, and the evolving data surrounding the progression of Covid-19 – current and as forecast throughout the 2020-21 academic year.

“This virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible”

“This planning approach is necessary because a course that might begin in a face-to-face modality would likely have to be switched to a virtual format during the term if a serious second wave of the pandemic occurs, as forecast.” 

White said that virtual planning is necessary because it might not be possible for some students, faculty and staff to safely travel to campus. 

“This virtual planning approach preserves as many options for as many students as possible,” he added. 

In some cases, there will be exceptions to the rule for some classes that require practical elements. 

However, White said that this would only happen if there are resources available and protocols in place to assure that rigorous health and safety requirements are followed.

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