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Think the focus should shift to university

(391 Posts)
CKBJ Sat 29-Aug-20 20:30:44

I am still concerned for my children to return to school, not because I think they will become unwell but the risk of Covid entering our house where vulnerable grandparents live with us and for the teaching staff who seem to have little protection. However, not much is being said about universities opening in a few weeks and the new focus should be this.

Many, many students will be moving into halls of residence and student houses bringing together students from all over the country. Independent sage has been arguing for all courses unless they require lab/practical elements to be offered online and remotely. This won’t suit all students but does give them an option and possibly reduce the amount of students moving around the country. Fees should be reduced accordingly. As the majority of students use a student loan to pay fees, they should only be responsible for paying for say 3/4s back and the 1/4 is covered by the government therefore meaning the university doesn’t lose any funding. The government seems to find money for many other things.

I was just considering the education side but obviously there is the whole social side as well. Many cities will have an influx of students into their pubs and bars. This could put a lot of pressure on the local areas increasing the possibility of transmission.

It seems nearly every year there are outbreaks of Meningitis and other illnesses that seem to occur when students all gather together. These aren’t going away, they will still be a risk and the added risk will be Covid.

I’m grateful I my children are not heading off to university this year but do feel for those who are and their families. Anyone else have any thoughts?

OP’s posts: |
AdelaidePlace Sat 29-Aug-20 20:41:45

When do most uni's start back?.... in that case government guidance will be released during the night of the Friday before...(as with schools this weekend)

AdelaidePlace Sat 29-Aug-20 20:42:37

But yes, you are right, it is going to be a worry, students travelling from all over the country to live together...

CKBJ Sat 29-Aug-20 21:12:27

Mid-September? Not actually sure

OP’s posts: |
historyrocks Sat 29-Aug-20 21:13:12

Most teaching will be online because it’s impossible to accommodate socially distancing. We’re prioritising first years to get face-to-face teaching.

Who should fund a drop in fees? It’s not as if the universities will be saving any money. Teaching online is very labour-intensive.

I’ve chosen to teach online in the coming semester as trying to teach face-to-face when everyone is 2m apart will be impossible. Very difficult to get a discussion going and impossible to do group work. University is going to be very different for a while—whether students are online or not.

Beebityboo Sat 29-Aug-20 21:13:28

I'm still not quite sure they will go back at all.

historyrocks Sat 29-Aug-20 21:14:23

My university usually starts back in the second week of September but it’s been pushed back to October 5.

historyrocks Sat 29-Aug-20 21:16:56

Universities will definitely go back. They’d go bankrupt otherwise. Some might do anyway.

TheDrsDocMartens Sat 29-Aug-20 21:18:43

My daughter goes next week. Most things are online

FVFrog Sat 29-Aug-20 21:31:42

My DS is moving into halls in just over 2 weeks...they are forming household ‘bubbles’ with their flat mates but some are arriving from abroad and will have to self isolate, they have a mix of online and in person teaching (his course is heavily lab based).
My honest opinion? They are young adults who are away from home for the first time, they have had the last year of school and exams pulled out from under them. I think there will be pretty much be zero social distancing. Put it this way I am still including condoms in my sons gift bag I will leave for him when I say goodbye the same as I have done for my other two when they started (along with an emergency clean pair of underwear, a bar of chocolate, and an emergency £20!)

CKBJ Sat 29-Aug-20 21:39:05

Good to read a lot is online. This doesn’t help with the students coming from all over the country and possibly outside mixing within student accommodation. Testing all would be good but unlikely to be feasible.

I wasn’t suggesting a reduction on fees. I realise universities struggle at the best of times, similarly to all other state run education establishments. I definitely don’t have an “economics” brain but maybe students this academic year have a reduction in the amount they will have to pay back. Unis still charge £9000 or whatever the rate is now, students borrow the £9000 to pay the fees but only have say £6000 added to their student debt and £3000 is covered by the government in years to come. I’m very likely to be short-sighted with this idea as i have already said I don’t have an “economics” brain!

OP’s posts: |
Beebityboo Sat 29-Aug-20 21:44:42

I'm a mature student due to start my first year in a few weeks. Still unsure whether I'm going to defer or not (and don't have long to make my mind up!) but i've been told I can do my first year entirely online.

historyrocks Sat 29-Aug-20 21:53:10

Totally agree with you, OP, that nobody in government seems to be giving much thought to universities. My colleagues and I have been working like mad to convert our teaching to online. I genuinely believe that the quality of teaching will be the same as usual, even if the delivery isn’t.

CKBJ Sun 30-Aug-20 07:18:21

Headline this morning BBC “Mass university return could spark next Corona wave”. Anything like the schools guidance there will be last minute guidance and u-turns. With the governments track record wouldn’t surprise me if they introduced something along lines of only go to university campus if you really must, avoid moving to campuses and if you live in a lockdown area you won’t be allowed to go to student accommodation.

It’s frustrating to see a government who is so so short sighted-frightening actually. It’s not like the mass migration (as media is calling it) to university has never happened,it occurs every year! Why are the DfE not prepared? They should have had people working on guidelines months ago? Set up working groups, including representatives from universities,unions along with “experts”? They may well have done but where is the evidence? From what I can see, universities are doing as much as they can,just like schools and colleges, the let-down is from higher up.

Did the government really think everything would be “fine” in September? Ready to carry on life as normal? If they did, that’s scary.

I studied my degree online (started age 20) due to circumstances. The quality of teaching I experienced was on a par to what I experienced at uni the year before. My course required a lot of discussion (like many degrees) and this was conducted in online forums. I was prepared to be taught online, not exactly my choice but knew what to expect. The students at uni and just going, aren’t prepared. The last few weeks before term starts students need to be taught how to work online, get to grips with forums or equivalent, iron out problems they encounter. The mindset of why they are going to uni needs to alter as well. Studying a degree online can dent the social side. This year (at least) to study has to be top of the list, the social aspects should have a much lower priority and with local lockdowns, pubs and bars possibly closing and possibility of going back to living with your bubble and seeing no one else, social side could become non-existent. Without being prepared this will be hard for many students, affecting them mentally. On a positive it may refocus the purpose of going to university to get a degree that enables you to get the job/career opportunities you desire and whittle out those who think it’s a right of passage.

OP’s posts: |
lovelyupnorth Sun 30-Aug-20 07:39:56

Two daughters going to two different unis both moving into Halls but most teaching people online. Seems pointless to me but they both want to go and clearly the Unis need the cash from renting the halls out.

Our shitshow of a government will spin and uturn in the next few weeks but it’s clear as with schools it’s all about the money and not any health risk.

napody Sun 30-Aug-20 07:43:57

Agree lovelyupnorth it's pointless putting all this effort into teaching online when the students will all be living and going out together anyway.

GlacindaTheTroll Sun 30-Aug-20 07:55:55

What makes you think that universities haven't been making exactly the preparations you're talking about?

I've just been looking at Covid policies - they all include things like online lectures, precautions for F2F sessions (smaller groups, distancing, attention to timing to avoid peaks which stress local public transport), lab/other facility procedures, one way systems. Sports clubs following national governing body guidelines (less clear about other clubs, but there are procedures about safety of indoors gatherings in all university properties including SU buildings), and quarantine of students arriving from a list of higher risk countries

Mating rituals will just have to be outdoors!

DoctorDoctor Sun 30-Aug-20 08:01:00

Thanks OP @CKBJ for being the first person I think I've seen to suggest fee reductions who acknowledges that the universities will still need the full amount to run.

I also agree with @FVFrog that social distancing will not happen for quite a few, being realistic. University staff are expecting this to have an impact and are worried too.

@lovelyupnorth a lot of universities don't own the accommodation anymore so it doesn't help them. It's all private providers. This is more of the government putting the concerns of landlords higher up the list I suspect.

tyrannid Sun 30-Aug-20 08:07:03

My university starts back at the end of September (I'm academic staff). We're doing all the prep mentioned previously and developing materials to support students to learn online. This includes a mini-course available for students before term starts which covers things like how the tech works, how to navigate a discussion forum etc. so that they start term a bit more confident with online learning.

Obviously though we can't dictate what happens outside our campus. We don't own most of the halls anymore so can't control that. So this is a concern both for staff and the wider community.

Piggywaspushed Sun 30-Aug-20 08:08:16

I don't think the risk is the universities themselves. My understanding is there have been guidelines already but another set to follow (so , yes, usual DfE chocolate teapot stuff).

The biggest risk is the socialising in large groups. The university towns and cities need to think about this : the footage I have seen of town and city centres do suggest young people are still crowding into pubs and bars but at least nightclubs are remaining open.

I am afraid a lot of young people have bought into the invulnerable message and can't se beyond their own noses. I keep having this argument with my DS (due to go into second year). The government (apart from Hancock it seems) want to convince us we can all go back to normal so they aren't working on any messaging to young people. I think the universities are trying but can only control their own bit. I do know some unis are controlling their halls quiet stringently.

There are lots of worries : how do students self isolate, and will they? Who will look after them? Will student medical services be able to cope with the other stuff? Will students recognise symptoms of , say, meningitis, or overlook them?

It's another fingers crossed situation.

Don't know why the media has suddenly decided to panic everyone about this. Perhaps schools got boring.

NeurotrashWarrior Sun 30-Aug-20 08:08:51

I've just worked out there's approx 50,000 students returning to my area, with a population of around 800,000.

My maths isn't great but that's around 1 in 16 is a student? Then there's the fe colleges.

chantico Sun 30-Aug-20 08:10:33

A lot of students will have contracted for their houses back in about January (the desirable ones always get snapped up quickly) and so they'd probably end up paying (for the first few weeks/term at least, depending on what break clauses there are)

So I don't think the government is necessarily thinking about landlords, because they do not need to. If the autumn term goes OK, by the middle of the spring one (as winter virus season recedes) universities could be pretty normal (by day at least - big parties and crowded bars/clubs might take a while longer)

NeurotrashWarrior Sun 30-Aug-20 08:13:58

She said she was particularly worried about the risk of the virus spreading in cities with big student populations and in areas with fewer cases at present.

From the bbc article. This has been exactly my concern for a long time. Big party city. Recent Local clusters have been linked to bars and restaurants. Students rent big Victorian houses or smaller flats in areas where families also live.

Unis can put all they want into place for teaching; it's the extra curricular stuff I'm thinking about!

We also have a lot of teaching hospitals and teacher training courses. I imagine they will be taught to be more sensible but I do remember the first and second year medics well from my own uni days...

onlyreadingneverposting8 Sun 30-Aug-20 08:18:13

My DD lives at home - her university is doing almost exclusively online learning for Semester 1 and planning for online teaching to continue next year, although they have said that a firm decision won't be made until Dec. Dd is studying Pharmacology and even labs are being run remotely. Most of her friends are moving back but their are some who are not. Ds has just finished yr13 but isn't going to uni. The vast majority of his year appear to be moving to uni and into halls as normal but I suspect their learning will be basically online and freshers events either online or cancelled as is the case for DDs uni's first years.

onlyreadingneverposting8 Sun 30-Aug-20 08:19:05

*there not their!

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