Coronavirus: Manchester to keep lectures online in autumn

Email to students confirms that University of Manchester will keep lectures online in 2020-21, though tutorials will be held in person

May 11, 2020

The University of Manchester has confirmed it will keep all of its lectures online for at least one semester when the next academic year starts.

In an email to students sent on 11 May, April McMahon, vice-president for teaching, learning and students, confirmed the university’s undergraduate teaching year would begin in late September “with little change to our start dates”, but it would “provide our lectures and some other aspects of learning online”.

“As we anticipate social distancing measures will be in place for some time, we have taken the decision to conduct all lectures for Semester 1 online,” said Professor McMahon, who added that the “lecture theatre environment does not easily support spatial separation”.

However, students would be asked to return physically to campus in the autumn as Manchester was “keen to continue with other face-to-face activities, such as small group teaching and tutorials, as safely and as early as we can”, added Professor McMahon.

Manchester is the first major UK university to confirm lectures that were moved online following the coronavirus lockdown would remain in this format this autumn.

However, its decision to confirm its autumn start dates is likely to quash speculation that other UK universities will delay the start of the 2020-21 academic year until January – a move that would have given more time for recruitment of international students to recover.

Last week it was confirmed that English universities would be allowed to charge the full tuition fees of £9,250 a year if their course is taught fully online as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have always said that we don’t believe students would be entitled to reimbursements of tuition fees if the quality is there,” said universities minister Michelle Donelan.

In a statement confirming the move to online lectures in the autumn, the University of Manchester said: “We understand that the current Covid-19 crisis has created real uncertainty for all our students.

“But, as a university, we are absolutely committed to delivering the highest-quality learning and student experience at Manchester whilst providing you with the most up-to-date information.”

Last month the University of Manchester warned it would face a “significant loss of income” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an email from the university’s vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell, it warned that it was “possible that 80 per cent of all international students and 20 per cent of all home/EU students will be lost”.

“For our University this could amount to a loss of over £270m in one year,” the email added.

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