Universities UK (UUK) has published a set of high-level principles and supporting information for universities to consider as they emerge from lockdown.
The principles provide a framework for individual universities both in the coming weeks and as they develop their plans for the new academic year. While individual universities will tailor their approaches depending on their settings and situations, the publication highlights key considerations to support universities and provide transparency to students on the work underway to give them the full university experience next year.
Claire Sosienski Smith, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), commented:
“Students are and always have been our priority and we welcome measures that prioritise students’ safety. It is important institutions take measures to do this in light of the ever-changing pandemic. Students need clarity as to what they can expect from the next academic year in order for them to make informed choices and all staff must continue to be paid regardless of this decision.
“It is important that universities do not try to carry on with ‘business as usual’ plans and do not attempt to bring students and staff members back onto campuses too early. Students must be consulted with as part of this process and it is crucial for universities to work with their students’ unions to facilitate the reopening of campuses, when it is safe to do so.
“We need clear decision-making to combat the chaos that COVID-19 has brought to our education system and answers to how education is going to be facilitated to over seven million students. The government must introduce a student safety net including funds to allow all students to redo this year at no extra cost, or have their tuition fees reimbursed or written off. The government needs to move quickly to work with the higher education sector to ensure that all students are able to receive quality education next year and have the resources they need to engage with online learning.”