Speaking during a recent College and University Business Officers webinar in which universities shared best practice for dealing with Covid-19, CUBO board director, Jane Donachy, listed measures being put into place by the University of the Arts London.
“Do we allocate on the basis of arrival time? Do we allocate on the basis of country?”
These including digitalising welcome packs and events, and ensuring international students travel from the airport to the institution by taxi, said UAL’s associate director of catering, retail and accommodation services.
Additionally, UAL plans to deliver food to students and evening meal ingredients supplied by meal kit company Hello Fresh will be accompanied by video cooking tutorials.
“There’s still a lot to plan,” noted Donachy, adding that conducting fire drills is a matter that had “not quite been worked out” yet.
Virtual social activities being planned were wide-ranging: “We’re going to be doing quizzes by bubbles, arts and crafts, cooking demos, twerk sessions…!” said Donachy.
“We have a DJ the whole first week, which will livestream via Zoom and we’ll provide pizza & party packs to replace the normal welcome party.”
Attendees pointed out that the best way to allocate accommodation is a matter at the forefront of planning for the new year, now that a majority of UK universities are preparing to provide in-person teaching next year.
“Do we allocate on the basis of arrival time? Do we allocate on the basis of country?” asked Lancaster University’s head of commercial services, Jo Hardman.
“Traditionally we try to mix students up. But actually we may choose that it’s a lot easier to allocate people by country when they arrive as opposed to looking at the department or academic subject.”
One of the reasons behind this is that it might result in fewer issues between students as those from the same country will be more likely to have similar approaches to Covid-19 prevention.
“We’ve recently had complaints from students about other students who’ve gone away and come back on a day trip,” explained Hardman.
“They have acted as they legally can but not in ways that other people within those households expect them to be able to behave.
“Particularly amongst our international students, that’s been really quite a significant issue.”
Another CUBO member, University of Lincoln, shared that if quarantine is still in place in the autumn, it will be offering two free weeks’ accommodation “to entice international students to arrive two weeks early”.
Late arrivals will be co-located and isolate together. Support via accommodation services includes a free rice cooker, bedding and comfort pack.