University cancels all undergraduate in-person teaching until September

On Thursday afternoon, Vice-Principal for Students Professor Colm Harmon emailed students with the news that both teaching and assessments for undergraduate students at the University of Edinburgh will continue in digital form for the remainder of this semester. 

There are exceptions, such as for students who have already resumed some on-campus elements since the break. 

Postgraduate taught students will continue learning online until at least the end of February.

This policy is justified by the fact that the Scottish lockdown is now in place until the 15th February and that any return of undergraduates would have to be staggered, meaning that the time between a return to on-campus teaching and the end of the semester would be very brief. 

Professor Harmon’s email stated that the university is “actively considering how to support fair assessment given this year’s difficult circumstances,” and promises to share further information, including “guidance around fieldtrips and placements, learning and teaching, and student support.”

Students have reacted with frustration to the latest decision. 

Flora, a University of Edinburgh Biochemistry student, said:

“It’s very difficult to learn and practise laboratory skills, which are essential for a science-based degree, online. 

“This isn’t the fault of the university but students in earlier years may need reassurance that they will have a chance to develop these skills in the future, with extra laboratory time during Honours years for example.” 

A University of Edinburgh Law student, Matt, said the decision was “particularly infuriating for the thousands of students paying astronomically high tuition fees, who feel they are getting very little value for money.” 

However, Matt criticised the Scottish Government, saying it “told students all summer to come to university in September, and all that’s followed has been the inevitable – a surge in the infection rate, student lockdown, wasted rent, a collapse in mental health, and a pretty terrible student experience far from home.”

The government, he feels, “should never have forced them into this awful position.” 

Adrià, who studies History at the University of Edinburgh, had less sympathy for the university, saying:

“In no way does this strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.” 

Jamie, another Law student, was resigned, philosophically opining, “Like a can of Tennent’s on a Friday night, this decision was inevitable.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons