Uni of York to Move all Teaching Online

The University of York has today announced its plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which includes moving all teaching, examination and assessments online, while also cancelling all examinations for first years.

Vice Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey laid out the plans, accounting for both staff and students at the University in an email sent out today.  The email lists a number of measures it will take in order to curb the spread of the disease. For students, current and future, it includes moving all teaching that was meant to take place during summer term online, along with all exams, assessments and Offer Visit days.

All first year exams will be cancelled.

It is important to note that the colleges and accommodation that students live in will remain open meaning that students who may not be able to stay at home for long periods of time will have somewhere to stay during term time. The email states:

“It would be irresponsible to continue with examinations that rely on large numbers of students physically gathering together to sit exams or take assessments. Therefore, in line with most universities in the UK we have decided that exams scheduled for April/May will not be undertaken in the normal way in large exam halls on campus”.

Vice Chancellor of York

The email goes on to say that the university are “working with all departments to assess how we can move to an online assessment process for all other years of study”, indicating that while they are in the process of working out how to actually implement online assessments, it has not been currently worked out.

For some students, leaving university accommodation could prove impossible. Some students residing on campus are care leavers or estranged from their families. Many are international students. The Vice-Chancellor addressed these concerns, saying: “For any student remaining on campus or in the city, it is important to understand that the University is not closed.

At present most facilities, including Colleges, residences, the library and cafes will remain open and we have been assured by our suppliers of fresh food that stocks have not been affected. Our laboratory and other technical facilities will continue to be supported. We will be working to develop guidance with regard to social distancing in large common areas in the coming days”.

Prof Steve West, the V-C of the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, told The Guardian last Wednesday that in the event of a university closure: “We would operate something like a Christmas shutdown.”

West warned that universities can’t be shut down like “big schools”, explaining:

“The things you can shut down you do, such as lectures and sports. But you also have to provide vital support services for the students still here, including security, catering, well-being support and emergency phone lines.”

Professor Steve West, Vice Chancellor of the University of West England

YUSU President Samara Jones has been contacted for comment.