UWE Bristol has become the latest educational establishment to announce plans for the upcoming academic year during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In an email sent at 13:30pm on May 26th 2020 to existing students, Vice-Chancellor Steve West announced that there would be a slight delay to the upcoming academic year. He said “we don’t know what the autumn will bring”, but that there would be a “digital-first approach”. He then went onto emphasise that this decision would be “even more inclusive, more personalised and more responsive”. The email ended with a reassuring statement that “you’re still part of the UWE Bristol community”.
What does these changes actually mean? UWE Bristol are instant that Term One will begin on Monday September 21st 2020, as originally planned for all courses due to start then. Some courses such as healthcare have a different start date and will be contacted by their departments on when they will be returning. However, there will be some changes. There will be an introduction to a new term, Block Zero. This will be a four-week, entirely digital programme to give students the requirements they need to continue studying at UWE Bristol. There is also to be a focus on developing IT skills for when Block One begins.
Teaching will officially begin on Monday 19th October, and will run for 11 weeks, ending on Friday January 22nd 2020. There will be a three week Christmas break during this, though those dates have not been officially announced. During this time, all formal lectures will be online, though there will be an attempt to facilitate small groups of face-to face- teaching.
Term Two will begin on Monday February 8th 2021 and will end on Friday May 7th 2021. It has not been announced how long this term will run for in teaching weeks. At this stage, UWE Bristol anticipates that they will be able to increase face-to-face teaching, however this depends on whether or not it will comply with government guidance at the time.
It was also mentioned in the email that “residents will be moving onto campus”. As this email was sent to existing students, there is some confusion over what will happen with students who are still planning on starting the university in September. It has been noted with concern by current students, some of who already have contracts in place and wouldn’t feel comfortable living in UWE accommodation during the current situation.
Featured Image by Maya Bond-Webster.