Durham University has today announced its plans for reopening to staff and students in October, which includes a ‘mixture’ of online and in-person teaching, specific dates on which students will be recommended to arrive in Durham, and a postponement of all upcoming study or work abroad plans.
The University has confirmed that teaching for Michaelmas term 2020 will, for those students able to live in Durham City, reflect “a mixture” of face-to-face and online sessions.
In a video message to students this afternoon, Vice-Chancellor Stuart Corbridge announced that “if you are with us in Durham City, your teaching will be a mixture of a lot of face to face teaching in small groups”, but that “the lecture events, the larger teaching events, will be online”.
All students will be charged full tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic year, whether they are able to be physically present in Durham or not, according to the University’s website.
It is understood that online teaching sessions will either be synchronous (in real time) or asynchronous (recorded), but that “they’ll all be available in any case for future viewing”.
Professor Corbridge also said that, for those students unable to be in Durham in October, “we will provide you with an online education and wider student experience as good as any you will find across the UK”.
However, he added that “we fully expect most of our students, freshers and returning students, to be in Durham on campus from the end of September to begin teaching and classes in October”.
Departments will be in touch with students “shortly after” 19th August, when student registration opens, to confirm how their degrees will be taught.
Colleges and wider student experience
The video also addressed the ‘wider student experience’, as Professor Corbridge said that “we’ll do our best to make sure that our Colleges […] are available to provide you with the formals you look forward to, access to the bar, but in a responsible and socially distanced way”.
University buildings such as the Palatine Centre will use “lots of signage, one way systems, sanitation, [and] ventilation” as well as the new “five-step code”, in order to “ensure that all our buildings are opened in a way that is Covid-safe”.
In July, the University announced that it would “continue to apply the 2m rule, as far as is reasonably practicable’ in all circumstances. There is also a “strong recommendation” that everyone wears a face covering indoors, and all staff and students will be provided with two reusable face masks at the start of term.
Regarding extracurricular activities, Professor Corbridge said that “sport, music and drama” will be discussed with “the Student Union, with Experience Durham and with the Colleges”.
He added: “It’s not going to be easy to organise Rugby, but we can think about tennis, and it will be easier perhaps to do a chamber orchestra than a full orchestra”.
Arrival on campus
Durham University’s website also lists a series of “recommended” dates of arrival for students in Michaelmas term.
The earliest arrivals will be international freshers or international postgraduate taught students who require quarantine periods, on 12-13th September.
Returning undergraduates who live in the UK should arrive latest, on 3rd-4th October, the weekend before classes begin on 5th October.
The full list of recommended dates for students can be found here.
For students due to begin their studies and work placements outside the UK, Durham’s website states that all of these “study/ work abroad placements outside the UK will be postponed”.
For those affected, their respective departments will be in contact to “discuss [their] options”.
Those currently on years abroad should speak to their departments “in the first instance”.
For further information about Durham University’s response to Covid-19, students can visit the website.
Image: Maddie Flisher