Govt reduces number of face-to-face courses in first two weeks of term

By Poppy Askham

The government has announced plans to reduce the university courses eligible for a return to face-to-face teaching in early January.

In a letter to higher education providers, Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan stated that the subject areas allowed to resume face-to-face teaching would be restricted to: medicine, dentistry, medical/health-related subjects, veterinary science, education and social work.

“Given the rising infection rates, the return of all other students should be paused until at least the week commencing 25 January”, Donelan explained. “The government will review this decision and provide further communication to providers in the week commencing 18 January.”

Official government guidance will be updated shortly to reflect this decision according to the letter.

As reported previously, Durham University has already announced that teaching for humanities and law students will be online for the first two weeks of term and that these students will be encouraged not to return to Durham until 25th January. However, it was previously thought that all courses involving practical teaching, specialist equipment and placements would be allowed to resume face-to-face teaching in early January.

It remains unclear how the University will alter its plans in line with the latest stricter government guidance.

Donelan also stressed that students with “convincing reasons” will be permitted to return to university accommodation. This includes international students who have remained in the UK, students who lack appropriate study space or require extra support, for example those with mental health issues and students on placements.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is a necessary step given the rates of transmission across England”, Donelan stated. “We consider that it is proportionate to the other restrictions we have placed on all sectors to curb the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Image: Amana Moore

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