‘No excuses’ for online learning at universities, says education secretary

23 of the 24 Russell Group universities offer ‘blended’ learning this termIAEA Image Bank / Flickr

Nadhim Zahawi said that there is “no excuses” for universities to drop face-to-face teaching, after a number of universities have announced that teaching will be moved online next semester.

The education secretary told the Sunday Times that students paying £ 9,250 per year in tuition fees should be taught in person and that universities should follow the lead of primary and secondary schools.

He noted: “They do it in elementary and secondary schools and in colleges. I expect universities to do the same, if not explain why not.

“There are no excuses, we are all in the same boat”

He went to to suggest that students should complain to the Student Office if they “feel like they are not getting what they paid for.”

It comes after 23 of the 24 Russell Group universities, including the University of Cambridge, have decided to offer “blended” learning this term.

Durham University has announcement that she will move almost all of her teaching online during the first week of the term, while Queen’s University Belfast will hold most of the conferences online in January.

Last July, Pro-Vice Chancellor Graham Virgo announced that the University of Cambridge would offer as many in-person lessons as possible during the 2021-2022 academic year.

The faculties were given autonomy over the amount of teaching that would take place in person. Much of this was based on the cohort size for each subject or lecture series.

While many departments offered in-person lectures, other subjects including economics, engineering, and land economics decided to hold all of their lectures online.

Following an open letter written by students demanding in-person instruction, the Land Economics Department pledged to hold in-person lectures during Lent.

Covid cases in Cambridge are on the rise. 1649 positive cases were recorded last week – an increase of 103 (6.7%) over the previous week.

In an email sent on Friday (1/7), the University encouraged students to receive their booster shots to protect them from the virus and limit its spread. Students were also asked to take lateral flow tests 3-4 days before returning to Cambridge, on their return day and before attending events.

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