Current Affairs

Guidance on In-Person Teaching Delayed

Government guidance on when students will be able to return to university, expected at the start of next week, will be delayed, Magdalen College has announced.

Earlier today, in an email sent to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students and seen by The Blue, the college announced it had been “made aware that this guidance may not come until later next week”.

Clarity, in the form of “published guidance and regulations that would be released soon after Monday’s statement by the Prime Minister” was originally expected to arrive on April 12th. Magdalen College stressed that requests to return based on the current exemptions were still being received.

In Oxford, the delay follows months of waiting for most students, who have not been able to return to university since the end of Michaelmas. In an email sent to the entire student body in late February, the University outlined its plans for in-person teaching in Trinity term. Undergraduate “catch-up teaching” for a small number of students would resume on April 12th, with in-person teaching for some practical courses set to begin on April 26th. Taught postgraduate students on practical courses would be returning to in-person teaching on March 8th, while arrangements for students on non-practical courses would be reviewed around Easter. Further guidance, according to the University, was “not expected until 5th April at the earliest”. 

Exemptions were made for taught postgraduates in their final year and undergraduate finalists, based on the need for access to libraries and study spaces. Colleges have also allowed students to return on mental health and wellbeing grounds.

These details remain on the University’s coronavirus-related advice page on its website.

Students who so far have not been allowed to return continue to wait on guidance. Earlier this week, on April 6th, the University’s “Official Student News” said that “the Government is expected to confirm this week whether students on non-practical courses will be allowed to return to university after the Easter break”.

Following Monday’s announcement that non-essential retail, personal care premises such as hairdressers, and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will be allowed to open from April 12th, the government has faced criticism for delaying guidance on re-opening universities. The University of Portsmouth has asked students to write to their MPs asking for a return to in-person teaching, an unusual move for a university administration. Universities UK, the representative organisation of the UK’s universities, has criticised the government for a “communication vacuum”.

Magdalen College and the University of Oxford have been approached for comment.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Carlotta Hartmann

Carlotta Hartmann is the Senior Investigations Editor at The Oxford Blue. She is going into her second year of studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College.