On Monday, students at the University of Edinburgh received an email from Vice-Principal Colm Harmon outlining the university’s plans for the next academic year commencing in September 2021, in which he stated that “large lectures/classes will need to be delivered digitally”.
After the 2020-2021 academic year was dominated by a hybrid teaching model, meaning a mix between online and in-person study although many students received no in-person teaching at all, students have been left disheartened at the prospect of facing another year of university teaching in a similar manner.
Speaking to The Student, a second-year history student at the University of Edinburgh expressed their upset:
“Mr Harmon must be out of his goddamn mind if he thinks that students are going to swallow another wasted year of video lectures and bedroom confinement.”
However, the Vice-Principal stated in his university-wide email that many students can expect to return to Edinburgh to resume in-person seminars, workshops, tutorials and lab work, while lectures are to remain online.
He has written:
“The rules on physical distancing for the University sector have the greatest impact on what we can deliver on campus and in-person. For the majority of students there will be a mix of in-person and digital teaching, but we expect overall there will be more in-person teaching for students than in this current academic year.
“The amount of in-person teaching will vary from programme to programme and depends on the discipline and the stage you are at in your studies, and will be influenced by our capacity and of course by the latest Covid-19 restrictions.
“We should have greater capacity for smaller group teaching (such as seminars, workshops, tutorials and lab work) on-campus, as well as smaller in-person lectures.”
Additionally, the Vice-Principal mentioned a plan for increased extra-curricular activities on-campus, allowing students to enjoy more social elements of university life through the Students’ Association.
Despite governmental restrictions potentially being eased across the UK over the following weeks, Mr Harmon stated that they do “expect that some Covid-19 restrictions will have to continue, such as physical distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene measures.”
Regular testing is also expected to be a part of the on-campus experience, as is the case with workplaces, schools, colleges and universities across the UK already.
The email placed particular emphasis on these measures only going ahead if they comply with the governmental guidelines. The Vice-Principal said that they “are in continual dialogue with the Scottish Government towards getting that clarity”, in regards to future restrictions from September 2021 onwards.
Nevertheless, despite this outline, students at the university have expressed continued concern in response to the email, with one student telling The Student that they are “wary of empty promises” from the university.
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