Regent's University London today announced its intention to deliver online learning for the remainder of 2020, along with a five-step approach to return to campus from January 2021.
The plan comes at a time of great uncertainty for university students worldwide, many of whom will need to comply with worldwide quarantine restrictions and travel disruption, which will make returning to campus extremely challenging, if not impossible.
Professor Niamh Downing, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, said: ‘We have a duty to protect our students from being impacted by a potential second wave. Noting this, we made the decision to deliver the Autumn 2020 Term online. It's the only responsible action.'
To date, Regent’s is the only UK higher education to commit to 100% online teaching for the Autumn 2020 Term.
Online learning is one part of the five-level, phased approach to returning to campus, the first stage of which was complete lockdown, and the final stage being business as usual.
At the beginning of the lockdown, Regent’s adapted its approach quickly, moving quickly to pause classes for a week to prepare its online learning environment and teaching staff.
Now, the university expects to expand on its initial success, and plans to work with experts to transform the online learning experience, and add new tools, to create a rich, diverse and immersive learning experience that is specifically tailored for online delivery.
Professor Downing said: ‘We’re using the summer to focus our collective energy and skills to develop the high-quality learning experience that students need, and ensure they can kickstart the academic year from anywhere in the world, without delay.’
‘To do this, we've developed a brand new learning design framework, which will underpin all of our teaching and assessments. We'll also be rolling out new technology in our virtual learning environment to improve the student experience.’
Pam Taylor, Student Support Manager, said: ‘Our students are located across the world, so maintaining accessibility for everyone is key. As a result, we will be enhancing our online platforms to ensure our information is easily accessible at all times, and will continue to offer online support and counselling, to give every student the best chance at success.’
Students will also receive full support from lecturers and support officers online to help them achieve their learning outcomes, with extra emphasis on support for mental health and financial hardship.
They will receive more information on the approach to online learning in the coming weeks, including video tours and resources to help them visualise the online learning experience.
Return to campus
Regent’s is closely following government safety guidelines and, providing a number of conditions are met, will be phasing back to its campus in Regent’s Park in January 2021.
To ensure safety, the University will implement robust social distancing and infection control measures, including modification of teaching and communal spaces, improving the flow of foot traffic, and introducing a combination of face-to-face and online delivery.
Regent’s on-campus accommodation, Reid Hall, has remained open for current residents who couldn’t travel home during the lockdown period. On the return to campus, the accommodation will be modified to include single-occupancy rooms and rigorous cleaning of communal areas.