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Students take aim at the “false representation” of hybrid learning in semester one

At the start of the semester, Peter Mathieson announced the University of Edinburgh’s plans to adopt a “hybrid” approach to teaching this current academic year. 

The intention was for students to be able to attend as much teaching in person as is possible, with the rest online. 

With little further detail provided about the form learning would take this semester, many students returned to Edinburgh in September sorely disappointed to find themselves to have been timetabled no or minimal in person teaching. 

An investigation by The Student demonstrated that for University of Edinburgh students the issue is not necessarily with the fact that teaching is online but with the fact that the University made it seem as though there would be teaching on campus, making moving back to Edinburgh and spending money on rent appear to be viable options.  

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The Student spoke to four undergraduate students across a range of subjects about their University experience this semester.

Second year Informatics student, Joe hasn’t had a single in person class this semester. 

Whilst he finds not having to travel to University convenient, he said he thinks “all lectures should be re-recorded for online learning”. 

Some of his lectures are just the recordings of last year’s lectures and “in these the lecturer will often draw examples on the whiteboard which can’t be seen on the recording”. 

A lack of organisation was a common source of frustration for students across the semester. 

Joe found it difficult at the start of the semester to find out how to access each of his tutorials given that all four of his courses delivered their teaching on different platforms. 

One second year Biological Sciences student was disappointed to have been told partway through the semester that two discussion sessions which were timetabled as in person were later changed to online.

She was allocated one lab in person and self-conducted fieldwork with help from a demonstrator if needed. 

She echoed other students’ feelings of being let down by the University who advertised the semester as “hybrid” only for it to be predominantly online

Ellen, a third year Medical Sciences student who has also had no in person teaching this semester, expressed her disappointment at missing out on the chance to consolidate her learning through practicals and discussions. 

She also said that “normal lecture lengths would be an improvement” as she feels that her lecturers increased the length of the lectures they are providing, increasing the workload for their students. 

Like many other students, Alice, a third year studying English Literature and History has had no teaching in person so hasn’t actually been able to experience the “hybrid learning” promised by the University.

 “I was led to believe that I would have at least a few sessions in person, not none at all”. 

She added that she doesn’t believe that “[In person teaching] is the right thing at the moment” however, takes issue with the “false representation” of what would be on offer teaching wise this semester. 

As a result of the widheld frustration within the student community, the group ‘Rent Justice Edinburgh’ have formed.

They are a group of students in University of Edinburgh accommodation demanding, amongst other requests, “A 50% reduction of rent for as long as the “hybrid learning” model operates”.

In their open letter to Peter Mathieson, they said that the University “misrepresented the nature of learning” in order to gain rent money from the student body. 

They stated their intention to initiate a rent strike starting on 1st December until their demands are met.

This feeling of betrayal is mirrored across the wider student population beyond Edinburgh, with a UK government petition having been signed by over 221,000 people demanding a partial refund of tuition fees for this academic year to reflect what they view as the loss of the University experience. 

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