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Review of current teaching and learning arrangements

27 Oct 2020

Update from the Vice-President for Social Responsibility and Chair of the Campus Reopening Group

John Owens

For the latest information on the national lockdown please see a StaffNet article of 2 November.

Earlier this month our University moved to increase online teaching. At that point we agreed that the changes would be in place until 30 October. As planned, we reviewed this decision on Friday 23 October.

This review has taken place against the backdrop of marked fall in infection rates amongst our students, and our experience of online and blended learning, but also the very recent increase in national alert level for Greater Manchester and the latest advice from Public Health officials in Manchester.

Our decision is that we will continue to operate with the current mix of online and face-to-face teaching as determined by our current Department for Education Tier 3 status.

This decision will be reviewed on 11 November.

We note the specific Public Health guidance that “the existing control measures will remain in place, and the universities can progress an increase in the percentage of provision that can be delivered in a blended model. As is now the case, appropriate risk assessments for individual staff and students must be adhered to”. 

In line with this Public Health guidance, we will begin discussions with colleagues over the next couple of weeks about how we can deliver more in-person teaching, provided that it is safe and practical to do so. These deliberations will be particularly important in areas where students do not currently have in person teaching, which we know can be crucial for wellbeing and mental health as well as academically.

We very much hope to be able to deliver more in-person teaching soon, because while staff have done a brilliant job in delivering online learning, we know that students greatly value in-person teaching.

Decisions about the blend of online and teaching provided on individual programmes will continue to be taken by Faculty Leadership Teams, informed by advice from Heads of Schools and will be communicated directly to staff and students.

Unless required by your line manager to work on campus, you should continue to work from home. Students and staff who are defined by PHE as being highly vulnerable should stay at home as much as possible during this period and discuss arrangements with their tutor, academic advisor or line manager.

Study spaces and the Library have remained open throughout this period. They will remain open and we will look to enhance some of these facilities. PC Clusters will remain accessible primarily via remote log in only, unless needed for in person teaching. As before, staff should not use offices for meeting with students.

I want to thank all of our staff and students for their patience, hard work and flexibility during these difficult times. We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and others safe, and by following the rules and guidance we can begin to make sure that more of our students and staff can return to safe, on-campus teaching and learning.

Professor Nalin Thakkar,

Vice-President for Social Responsibility and Chair of the Campus Reopening Group