Most UK universities have suspended face-to-face teaching and exams to contain the spread of the covid-19 virus.
The government yesterday ordered all schools in the country to close from Friday 20 March, but issued no guidance to universities.
However, many universities across the UK have already suspended face-to-face teaching and the vast majority have told students that they will transition to online learning platforms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Universities including Loughborough, Durham, Manchester Metropolitan and London School of Economics (LSE) have announced they will be offering online tuition.
Universities UK, an industry body that represents 137 universities, said that its members were “working hard” to implement social-distancing strategies while continuing to teach. Educational institutions across the country are looking into how to deliver lectures remotely.
Universities “cannot fully be locked down given [there are] students living on many campuses and some areas of research that cannot be left unmonitored”, said Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK.
The University and College Union has also urged institutions to keep open accommodation and other services that students rely on, especially for international students who are unable to travel home due to international travel bans.
Durham announced that all lessons will be delivered online as much as possible from this week. LSE expects online lectures and exams to start from Monday 23 March. Additionally, the vice-chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University said that face-to-face teaching would end on Friday 27 March – “potentially sooner”, if requested by the government.
A number of UK universities have reported cases of covid-19 on campus. The University of Oxford confirmed last week that a total of five students had tested positive, while a student at the University of Bristol and one at Loughborough also tested positive. There has also been one confirmed case at Loughborough University.