Lancaster's two universities ready to welcome students to uni life under 'new normal'

Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria have been working hard to get ready to welcome students back for the new academic year.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 7:00 am
Lancaster University.

With many students due to start university and others returning later this month, things will be different this term with students having to adapt to life under the ‘new normal’.

Both Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria have made changes to their usual way of operating in a bid to keep their staff and students as safe as possible while allowing them to live and work as normally as possible.

Lancaster University is looking forward to welcoming students back to its Bailrigg campus later this month.

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The University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus.

The autumn term begins on Friday October 2, with the majority of teaching starting the following Monday.

A university spokesman said special measures have been put in place to help students who are coming from abroad and will need to self-isolate.

"We have extended our normal arrival times to ensure students can start the term on time, depending on their circumstances," the spokesman said.

"For those living on campus, arrivals will commence from Monday September 14 for new and continuing students who need to arrive early and self-isolate prior to the start of term.

Lancaster University starts welcoming students back later this month.

"For those who do not require this service, arrivals will commence from Saturday September 19 until Sunday September 27.

"We are also offering two weeks' free accommodation for those who need to self isolate prior to the start of term."

The university is also arranging free transport from Manchester Airport for new and existing students travelling to Lancaster from outside of the UK, between September 14 2020 and January 8 2021. This will be available at set times.

On campus, the university has put social distancing measures in place, and as a result staff have come up with new ways to deliver teaching as well as social events.

"Our approach is to follow the latest UK government health advice on managing coronavirus and to offer students as much flexibility as we possibly can," the spokesman said.

"Government restrictions in the UK and elsewhere may change between now and when they arrive in the autumn, but we will continue to follow the latest advice and take necessary measures in support of the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.

"With social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of our campus community, we will deliver teaching, learning and research differently this autumn.

"For example, because social distancing measures reduce the capacity of teaching, learning and research spaces, we expect to provide a blend of online tuition and small group/lab teaching. This may mean that supervision and research training is undertaken remotely where required.

"Our objective is to ensure that students receive a high-quality experience, including academic support, whatever the restrictions resulting from the pandemic may be. If the decline in cases of coronavirus in the UK continues to fall then we will be able to offer more in-person teaching and if the virus increases again then we may have to do more online.

Following initial arrival, there will be a mix of online events and activities, including advice and information on health, safety, wellbeing and additional training regarding precautions related to coronavirus.

"Where possible, there will also be in-person events for small groups to enable new students to meet each other in a safe way. In each college, there will also be a programme of social events organised and offered by Junior Common Room student representatives."

Meanwhile, the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus reopens to students from September 6 for students needing to self-quarantine.

University of Cumbria has, like other higher education institutions across the sector, introduced a range of measures to maintain a safe campus environment in the new term but wants to reassure students that they will still have a great university experience.

For its teaching and learning programmes, the university has adopted a blended method of teaching to limit the amount of time each student spends on campus.

However, as many of its courses are very practical in nature, some elements cannot be taught online and as such the university has made provisions for students to be on campus so they do not miss out on practical sessions.

This will be for approximately two days a week and in limited numbers to enable safe social distancing. The rest of the time will be spent learning online with access to tutors and a range of services the university has to support students in relation to health and wellbeing, financial support and academic skills.

Students will be provided with a manual on how to keep themselves and others safe and induction and welcome week activities will also be held online.

While on campus, the university is strongly encouraging the use of face coverings when a two-metre distance cannot be maintained. Spare face coverings will be kept at reception for any students who forget theirs.

Hygiene stations, with hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes, will be placed around each campus and all shared facilities such as kitchens and printers.

One-way systems will be in operation where necessary and every student will be required to complete an individual risk-assessment before coming onto campus.

There will be a booking system in operation for shared facilities such as libraries and gyms.

Upon moving into new accommodation in halls of residence, students will form new ‘households’ with their flatmates.

On moving in weekend, students will be given a pre-booked arrival time slot to manage the numbers of people in and around halls.

They will receive a welcome pack which includes their hall and room keys, welcome information and an additional Covid safety pack containing sanitiser, mask, wipes and Covid specific advice and guidance.

The origin of an international or EU student will dictate whether they need to ‘self-isolate’ when they arrive in the UK. Students arriving from one of the countries on the travel corridors exemption list will not have to isolate.

Any student arriving from a restricted country will be required to quarantine on arrival and is encouraged to arrive from September 6 onwards in order to allow for a 14-day quarantine before welcome week starts on September 21.

Any international or EU student who needs to quarantine will be offered a room in halls of residence free of charge for the period of their quarantine and they will receive full support including, food parcels, health and wellbeing support and welfare checks.

Again, ‘freshers’ week’ will be very different experience, but the Students’ Union has worked hard to ensure there is still a sense of togetherness and community with its array of online events.

There will be Netflix watch parties, online cocktail making classes, a mental health session provided by MIND, a virtual book club, and official nightclub partner Glow are hosting a virtual freshers’ night and welcome party.

There will also be two socially distanced events; a selfie tour of local landmarks and a live streamed broadcast from the old Fusehill street campus morgue from when it was a hospital.

Speaking about the new term, Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Brian Webster Henderson said: “As an experienced nurse and academic, I never imagined that I would be navigating a global pandemic that has altered our daily lives so substantially and therefore the operations of the university.

“Keeping our students and staff safe is our top priority and we continue to be guided by the latest official government guidance at all times.

“I am confident that with these procedures and processes in place and with support from our student community, our university will continue to provide an excellent education to all and our students can look forward to a positive and enriching experience.”

The university has made this video to show people what campus will be like from September.

The university still has places available for anyone looking to start a course in September. If you still need to apply, have changed your mind about the course you’ve chosen or are looking for a career change, the university’s clearing team can help on 0808 178 733 and online here