Image Description: The front entrance of the Bodleian Library
Colleges and Faculties have begun to react to the University’s announcement yesterday morning. The Balliol College Master told undergraduate students that they would be able to return for the beginning of Trinity, while other colleges including University College told students that, as stated in government guidance, students on certain courses would be able to return from the 8th of March and others were still waiting for the next government review. They also added that those students who would be able to return to college would be contacted by their departments directly.
In an email sent to students almost immediately after the University page was updated, the Balliol Master reassured Postgraduate students on taught courses that they could return from the 8th of March. The Master also stated that undergraduate finalists would also be permitted to return, on a staggered basis, after Easter.
She also told all other undergraduates that they would be able to return in time for the start of Trinity term.
“All other undergraduates will be allowed to come back in time for the start of Trinity Term on 26 April, and again we will give them a staggered timetable for doing so.”
She also highlighted to students that the removal of COVID restrictions was likely to take a long time, and that measures similar to those in place during Michaelmas 2020 were likely to continue.
“You will have also have seen from the Prime Minister’s announcement that the process of easing many of the key aspects of lockdown will take a long time. We are certain to have continued constraints throughout Trinity Term on mixing between households in College, the size and location of social events, wearing masks for many of our activities, and so on. Many in our community will still need protection from infection, and we will need to live our lives with that at the forefront of our minds. I know I can rely on everyone to help make Trinity Term the happy, safe and successful Term we all want it to be.”
A video update from the Principal of Hertford College also reassured students that they would be able to return for Trinity. The Principal told students that “you should have received the email from the University that confirms the excellent news that all those who want to come back in Trinity for educational reasons should now be able to do so”.
He continued: “Now of course there will be some caveats. This won’t be a normal summer term. There will still be many restrictions in place. Most of the learning will of course still be online”.
However, not all colleges have been as optimistic in response to the update from the University.
In an approach that conformed more closely to the university guidelines, Univ students were told that there was still some lack of certainty over exactly when undergraduate students on non-practical based courses would return to college accommodation and in person teaching.
The college said that “the University expects that students on ‘non-practical/practice-based’ courses will continue to be taught online until at least Monday 26 April, although it is hoped that future government guidance will enable a greater number of students to benefit from in-person teaching in Trinity term than is currently permitted.”
They said that students currently living in college accommodation “may stay here after the end of term, for as long as they need to be here.” The Government guidance is for students to remain in whatever accommodation they are currently living in, but the college added that they did not have the ability to either withhold or grant permission for students to leave.
Univ also encouraged students to reach out to MPs about their feelings on how universities have been dealt with during the pandemic, stating: “Don’t forget that it is never too late to write to your MPs about your experience as a student this year. Many of you are UK voters, and so are your parents and grandparents.” They added that there was still time for students to have their views heard before the next review and that students may want to express their feelings on the matter.