(Published Wednesday 7th October 2020)
Yesterday (06/10/2020) the University announced, we would be moving to Tier 3 of the Department for Education guidance for Universities because of the rising number of cases of Covid amongst students in Manchester. Essentially this means that the vast majority of teaching will move online (apart from a small number of clinical and practical courses) for the next 3 weeks. The Students’ Union and other services on campus will remain open during that time.
We know that for many of you this will be very frustrating and difficult, especially for those of you who have moved (back) to Manchester recently as this was the first week that teaching was due to begin. We also know that there are others of you who prefer learning online especially given the current situation. As a Students’ Union we will continue to gather and relay your feedback. As an officer team we are meeting with staff from across the University on a daily basis and will continue to do so to ensure that the student voice is heard at every level.
As well as attending meetings with the University Senate and Senior Management Team this week, I also co-hosted a Q&A with the President & Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell and other UoM senior leaders which was livestreamed on our Facebook page . Nancy and her colleagues were asked questions that came directly from students about everything from tuition fee refunds to isolation in halls and you can watch a recording of the live stream here:
As Education officer, my current priorities, alongside my colleagues, are:
Support for those of you who are isolating. Our Welfare and Community Officer, Junior, wrote a blog post last week detailing some of the support we are offering as a Students’ Union, and we will continue to push the Uni to make sure those of you who are most isolated get the support that you need.
Finding out what your biggest concerns are, and what you want us to be lobbying the University for on your behalf. We want to make sure that we are pushing for the right things and so very soon we’ll be putting out a snap survey to find out about your experience of uni at the moment and what you’d like us to prioritise.
Clarification on what the situation means for students in halls. Some of you are wondering whether you are able to go home for short or longer periods and what that might mean for your halls contracts so we’re pushing the University for clear guidance and communication on this.
Providing you with up to date information on your rights. This is an ever changing situation with sometimes contrasting guidance, however we will continue to seek clarification and information on your behalf. As well as the Advice Service question and answer sessions we’ve been streaming live on Facebook, we will also be putting a number of ‘know your rights’ sessions on over the coming weeks to ensure that you feel fully informed and have up to date guidance in the current situation.
Accessible online teaching. For some of you, online teaching is a great way to engage with your studies from home, however we are aware that some students find online teaching delivery particularly difficult to access. We will continue to get your feedback on this and to push for online teaching to be made more accessible for all of our students.
As your Students’ Union, our building remains open for you. Our Advice Service Gateway is operating from the SU ground floor – Monday to Friday 10-4pm – where you can get basic Advice or make an appointment to speak to an Advisor on more complex matters. Our café and bars are there to provide a social space for those of you in the same household and we will continue to put on a diverse programme of in-person and online events for our students to engage with us and each other.
SU Education Officer