Our COVID-19 response
We will be providing teaching through a combination of regular face-to-face on campus sessions and online learning in 2021/22, as part of our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this will be different to how we delivered teaching and learning before the pandemic, we are planning to increase teaching and other activities on campus compared to the 2020/21 academic year, when we were required to provide most of this online for the spring and summer terms.
We hope that many of the current restrictions will be lifted by the 2021 autumn term, but we cannot be certain that all restrictions will be lifted, and so we must be prepared to be flexible if things change (for example, if new social distancing or lockdown measures are reintroduced with little notice). We are also mindful that some travel restrictions may still apply, particularly to international travel.
We remain committed to helping our students benefit from all that university life has to offer. We are using everything we have learnt during 2020/21, together with student feedback, to deliver a high-quality learning experience, which includes the same levels of teaching as before the pandemic, although the way in which some of these things are being provided may be different.
Subject to any changes in government guidance, we are planning for our campuses to be open in the autumn, with our full range of facilities and services – such as the Library, Support Centres, catering and SportsPark.
We believe bringing together in-person and online teaching will provide the best learning experience for our students in the anticipated circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. It means we can optimise the amount of teaching we can provide on campus while supporting students who need to study remotely temporarily if this is required due to the pandemic.
All students will also benefit from the flexibility that blended learning brings, such as having structured guided learning and pre-recorded material in advance of on-campus sessions.
Our teaching will be through a combination of:
• Live interactive sessions (timetabled, in-person or online)
On-campus. Students will have regular, live interactive sessions on campus to provide them with opportunities to engage, discuss and interact with both academic staff and other students. Depending on the programme of study, this could include tutorials, seminars, laboratory and practical work, workshops, breakout sessions, and lectures that involve a high level of interaction and discussion.
Online (where required). For modules with students who cannot come to campus and are therefore studying ‘at a distance’ (for example, international students prevented from travelling to the UK by COVID-19 related travel restrictions), a similar live interactive session will be held online to cover the same content as on-campus sessions.
In a very small number of subjects there may be cases where there are a large number of face-to-face teaching sessions scheduled for a particular module per week. Some of these sessions may therefore be held as live online sessions as part of our blended approach.
• Guided learning activities (asynchronous – to plan in your own time)
Students will have regular guided learning activities for their modules that they will need to schedule around their live sessions, either individually or as part of a group. These activities will include core course content, replicating large lectures or similar sessions which have limited interactivity, and complementary materials and activities which will support students’ learning and self-study, such as videos, screencasts, or formative tests taken through our online platform, Blackboard.
Take a look at our video for a summary of these plans.
As the COVID-19 pandemic remains an unpredictable and evolving situation we cannot guarantee that changes to our students’ University experience in 2021/22 will not be required. These could be as a result of changing national or local government guidance or direction, ministerial direction, local public health guidance or direction, required safety measures, or changing local or national circumstances.
There may be circumstances outside our control that cannot currently be foreseen or prevented that require us to make changes to our students’ University experience in 2021/22. Examples may be local or national lockdowns, changes to the law, staffing shortages arising from the effect of the pandemic and guidance, or instructions issued by bodies such as national or local governments, councils or public health authorities. Our responses to these circumstances may mean that we need to make other changes to programmes, including, but not limited to: changing the mode of teaching such as moving all learning online where we are not permitted or it is not safe to teach face to face; changing field trips, study visits or placements (including making these virtual or altering their physical destination); changing assessments and/or moving the order of teaching activity to different times of the year, or amending term dates. In such circumstances we will use all reasonable endeavours to minimise any disruption to students and will communicate any changes as clearly and as quickly as possible.
Welfare and academic support
We closely support our students, through our Academic Tutors and our wider network of professional, specialist teams (including Student Welfare, Counselling & Wellbeing, Disability Advice and International Student Advice).
Our full range of support teams have continued to support students throughout the pandemic, including our new COVID-19 Support & Behaviour Team and COVID-19 Case Management Team. We also continue to make sure those students in self-isolation have access to food and other essentials, as well as welfare support.
Subject to any changes in government guidance, we are planning for our campuses to be open in the autumn, with our full range of facilities and services – such as the Library, Support Centres, Catering and SportsPark. We are working closely with our Students’ Union, RUSU, to offer a range of social activities, so you have the opportunity to enjoy a full, vibrant and well-supported student experience.
Since March 2020, our Supporting Our Students scheme has assisted those self-isolating or feeling lonely, by pairing students to help one another or have someone to talk to. We have also brought all our events, on campus and online, together in one place through Get Together Apart, to make it easier to meet new people and enjoy new experiences.
Careers and development
We have held a number of careers fairs online, linking students up with employers. Our Life Tools programme offers talks on a range of relevant subjects, like managing stress or bouncing back from setbacks.
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY and DIGITAL SERVICES
You will need to access technology to fully engage with your programme, including using Office 365 (free for all University of Reading students), a computer or laptop, and a reliable Wi-Fi connection. We provide a range of study space on campus, including PC labs with relevant software for use by students, although it is possible that availability may be limited at times.
You can find out more about the advised minimum requirements, as well as advice on purchasing a laptop (or other IT equipment or software) on our Digital Technology Services (DTS) webpage.