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Studying in autumn 2020 during coronavirus

Our plans for the academic year 2020/21

28/05/2020
Statement from Professor Nic Beech, Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University

The situation around COVID-19 is an ever evolving one, with government guidance and social distancing measures under constant review and development. Despite this uncertainty, we’ve been working hard to reassure our students that we’re putting everything in place so they can make a successful start to their course in the Autumn. We want to do this in a flexible way that works for our students and follows government advice. At every step, we’ll be sure to protect the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and students and this will always remain our top priority.

Since the ‘national lockdown’ began in March the focus of the University has been on supporting each and every student to continue with their studies as well as possible in the new circumstances. I’m extremely proud of the way our Students’ Union and our Middlesex students have reacted both individually and together to the pandemic and its effects, with positive engagement, understanding, suggestions and support.

I’m very grateful to the University community who have responded so positively and professionally to moving teaching, learning and assessment online so that our students’ studies and educational progress can continue as well as possible in the face of the pandemic. We’ve also provided help for the many students who have accessed our student support services and have been supported with compassion and empathy by our student services team. We’ve also been working hard to support our students who have remained in halls, through the provision of welfare support and food parcels.

How we will provide teaching and learning in the next academic year

The academic year will start on the previously published dates - 21 September Welcome Week, 28 September teaching week 1. Provided the national situation continues to improve, we’re planning to start teaching in the Autumn term through a mix of virtual and face to face teaching that we call blended learning. For example, big group lectures will be online while some smaller classes or practical activities could happen on campus, if we’re able to accommodate them. Students may move between blended learning and fully virtual learning where it’s necessary. In addition, if your course will include some on campus teaching but you can’t make it to campus for whatever reason, we’ll work to ensure that you’ll be able to start your course fully online.

This will mean some significant changes and a great deal of work is currently underway to ensure that our campuses are carefully prepared for the safest possible, socially distanced return to face to face teaching and learning. We’re planning for different situations, initially for the first term of study and the detail is being worked through now. For example: how we will deliver tutorials, workshops, lab work and practicals in a ‘COVID-19 secure’ way. These plans are continually evolving as further information becomes available from the UK Government.

Supporting our students to succeed

We're doing everything we can to make sure that our students will get a great learning experience with us. We’ll continue to help our students to stay on track with their academic development with personal support. All of our students will have a personal tutor and support from peers through our amazing student learning assistants.

Our student support services are available online including all library services and access to the core texts. We’ve also got academic, writing and numeracy support and employability, wellbeing and personal support available virtually. That means our students always have support to do their best.

Our courses teach advanced skills and how to apply them in both digital spaces and hands on situations. If students are not able to practice their skills in the facilities on campus at any point during their course then we’ll support our students to create a learning environment at home with appropriate software and other resources.

Next steps

Further details will be released as our plans take more shape and we’ll continue to keep our plans under review in the Autumn term. We know students will be keen to understand what this means for them specifically and students will receive further information on what this means for individual courses in June and July. Because of the wide range of programmes we offer, which all have different requirements, the arrangements we will put in place may vary slightly by course.

Together with the Students’ Union, we will continue to gather feedback, questions and ideas from our students to inform our approach. The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors to the University will remain our primary concern and will be the foremost consideration in our decision-making.

Stay in touch and stay safe and well.

With all best wishes.

Professor Nic Beech
Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University

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