Update at 18:15: UWE and the Vice-Chancellor have released an update stating that all teaching will be moved online, and that exams will be cancelled for first- and second-year students, with an update to come for third-year students. Deadlines remain unaffected for now.
“Following the Government’s announcement to avoid social interaction and non-essential travel, from Wednesday 18 March 2020 we will move to online teaching for the rest of the academic year. Online provision has been put in place for you to engage with you studies remotely.
“The University remains open to support residents, however there is no expectation for you to remain living on campus. All university support and administration will still be available to you. If you are working closely with one of our services (for example Disability or Wellbeing), support will continue, though it will move away from face-to-face support.
“The University remains open to support residents, however there is no expectation for you to remain living on campus. Facilities including the library, computer labs, workshops and skills labs, catering and some buildings will remain open and accessible. What is open and opening hours are likely to change. The Centre for Sport and University Health Centre will be closed. If you’re registered at the University Health Centre, you can contact the Old School Surgery in Fishponds.“
On exams and essay assessments, UWE states:
“Online submission will be unaffected. If you have paper copy submissions you will be advised via Blackboard about how to submit these.
“All assessments for foundation, first and second years (both undergraduate and postgraduate taught) will be moved online, so there will be no controlled-condition exams this academic year. For final year students (both undergraduate and postgraduate taught), we are looking at options that will allow you to meet the conditions of your programme through various methods of assessment. We don’t currently have all the answers, but we will make sure that you aren’t disadvantaged. Updates will be available from your Programme Team via Blackboard over the coming weeks.”
In a change of policy from previous comments made by the Vice-Chancellor, who stated that the University “can’t just shut down”, UWE will shift to a “online delivery and assessment from tomorrow” according to the Vice-Chancellor, Steve West in a conversation seen by HUB Magazine who says the decision follows “many many weeks” of preparation.
All teaching will move online, but campuses will remain open. Library books remain subject to current due dates and policies for return, according to a library staff member.
The Students’ Union has also announced closures in a statement:
“As of Wednesday 18 March, we will only be opening The Students’ Union U Block Shop, meaning that F Block Shop, Frenchay Union 2, Glenside and Bower Ashton Students’ Union outlets will be closed for the foreseeable future. Upcoming events including Bring Your Own Bowl, SUesday, Swap Shop and all Changing Consumerism events are also cancelled until further notice.
“The Union 1 Building will be open from 09:00-17:00 with a skeleton staff, and other staff where possible will be working remotely. The Advice Centre is currently functioning as normal and if staffing availability changes it will remain open, but move online.”
A petition asking the University to consider cancelling “face-to-face teaching, meetings and non-essential services at UWE in the interests of the health and safety of staff, students and the general public” had already gained more than 1000 signatures, at the time of writing.
Note: Official advice about the outbreak of COVID-19 can be found on the NHS’s website. Regularly updated advice on UWE’s website is also available.
At the time of writing, current NHS advice is to stay at home for 7 days if you have either a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back OR a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.
The government and NHS are also advising people to wash their hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds, and to always wash your hands when you get home or into work. Advice changes – check official sources for up-to-date information.
If you are feeling stressed or feel that your mental health is suffering for any reason, you should use UWE Wellbeing’s services.
More to come – this story will be updated.
Featured image: Jack Fifield