Coronavirus: More universities halt teaching and exams

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The University Times

Salford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Southampton universities are among the latest to rearrange teaching and exams to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Measures include ending term early, online teaching and cancelling exams.

The moves came as six Oxford students were diagnosed with the virus, while St Andrew’s and Bristol universities have each reported a case.

“I recognise many of you are understandably anxious,” Nottingham’s vice-chancellor told students.

Prof Shearer West said in a letter, which she asked students to share with friends and family: “I am writing to let you know what measures we are taking immediately to reassure you, protect your health and ensure that your learning can continue.”

Nottingham will put all teaching online from 23 March and is cancelling all trips overseas and residential trips within the UK.

However, the letter stresses the university – including its libraries – will remain open.

  • Coronavirus: Six Oxford students diagnosed
  • St Andrew’s University confirms Covid-19 case
  • Bristol University student tests positive

Salford University has announced all teaching – except for final-year students – will be suspended from Monday, but the campus and student accommodation will remain open.

“This will give us time and space to plan for what may be necessary,” said a spokesperson.

Edinburgh is also transferring teaching online. Exams are cancelled for first- and second-year students, with those in their third year and beyond taking them online.

Again, the university stressed it was still open, with libraries, counselling, research and study spaces operating as usual.

“Students should be assured that they will achieve their qualifications on time and an Edinburgh degree will still hold the same value,” said a spokesperson.

The University of West of Scotland has asked students not to attend its campuses from Monday, although it, too, says it will remain open.

It intends to move to remote learning “to reduce the number of individuals on campus at any one time”.

Early holidays

Meanwhile, the University of Southampton has decided to bring its spring holiday forward by a week so that term now ends on 13 March.

“We will keep any impact to the absolute minimum and ensure all students can successfully complete their term’s learning,” it said in a statement.

Summer term is scheduled to start as normal next month.

University library
Image captionEven if teaching and exams are off, libraries will remain open, say universities

In a similar move, the University of Bristol has announced it will end face-to-face teaching earlier this term, on 18 March. Online teaching will begin after the holidays and all overseas fieldtrips are cancelled.

Bristol vice-chancellor Hugh Brady, said he believed the measures were “balanced and proportionate”.

“This is indeed a very worrying time for us all – professionally and personally – but I am confident that we can harness our collective ingenuity, resolve and passion for our institution to navigate the choppy waters ahead,” he said.

‘Business as usual’

Across the city, University of West of England took a different approach, tweeting: “It is currently business as usual here but please rest assured we’re monitoring the situation very closely and are able to act quickly if it changes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors.”

A number of universities had previously announced moves to online teaching, including Durham, Manchester Metropolitan, the London School of Economics and Loughborough, where one student has tested positive for the virus.

The University Times

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