From Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience
As many of you will know, the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament yesterday on the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England.
The roadmap, combined with follow up guidance from the Department for Education, confirms that students on practical or practice-based courses that require access to specialist equipment or facilities can return to campus from 8 March but only within certain safety parameters. Because of that, not all students on practical or practice-based courses will, or can be, prioritised to return from that date.
No matter which taught course you are studying, you will be informed by your academic school/department by week beginning Monday 1 March whether the return to face-to-face on-campus teaching applies to you or not. Please allow staff the time to put those communications together and do not make any travel arrangements or plans to return until you receive this confirmation from your school. Until then, please continue to follow your current timetable.
These changes apply to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught students. There is currently no change to the arrangements for research students.
In deciding which practical courses will be allowing students to return to campus for face-to-face teaching or assessment from 8 March, we have had to consider a number of factors including:
- the need to prioritise those who require on campus facilities or assessment as an essential part of finishing their course or fulfilling the requirements of a professional, statutory or regulatory body
- the Government request that universities should not ask students to return if their course can reasonably be continued online
- Government requirements to restrict travel wherever possible and increased testing for Covid-19
- more stringent social distancing requirements limiting the capacity in teaching spaces and laboratories.
This will mean the majority of you will continue to be taught online until the end of term, though students who do meet the existing criteria for return to campus (for health, wellbeing or study space reasons) will continue to be supported. We are currently reviewing our position regarding rent for University accommodation and will continue to work with Kent Union and GKSU on rent issues for those of you in private accommodation.
There will be a Government review in mid-April, and, whilst that will be too late for us to offer any additional face-to-face teaching this term, we are hopeful that the roadmap will allow us to offer greater access to on-campus facilities and more on-campus events for a much larger number of students from the beginning of May.
For those of you who are returning to study on campus from 8 March, revised guidance on travel and testing will be made available to you soon following several changes to Government requirements for those travelling from both within the UK and from abroad.
For those students who will not be returning for the time being, we will be looking at ways we can continue to reinforce our online student experience in response to your feedback and in conjunction with Kent Union, GKSU and your course representatives.
We will be holding a Student Web Chat next week where staff from across the University will be presenting information and offering guidance related to the recent updates in Government regulations and their implications for study. Please do sign-up online where you can send in any questions you may have in advance.
Support, information and events continue to be advertised on our Student Guide and social media and we will continue updating our coronavirus web pages as often as we can. Please do continue to email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk with any urgent enquiries and we will respond as soon as possible.
Finally, please can I remind you not to make any plans to travel back to your term-time address until you hear from your academic school/department that you are invited to do so or unless you meet the existing criteria (for health, wellbeing or study space reasons).
Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience