Previous announcements

A chronological list of all the updates and announcements we've sent to out student community about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Email to students about Assessment Update: Academic Integrity guidance and FAQ on Feedback (Mon 27 April)

Dear Student

I hope that you managed to have a rest over the Easter break before resuming your studies and the beginning of assessments for many of our courses.

We sent you further assessment guidance on the 25 March, after rescheduling the May examinations. We then published the timetable as planned.  We also sent to students sitting examinations some initial guidance to help them understand how they will run.  We will be sending out more detailed guidance to those students shortly.

A number of students have started to ask about how feedback will be provided given that students will be often answering the same assessment tasks in May and in July and some have raised queries about how we will ensure academic integrity.

To help answer those queries, I have attached for your information further guidance which includes an FAQ on assessments, and a guide to academic integrity and misconduct. The latter is especially important as we have moved our exams online. Every student has a responsibility to ensure that they read and understand this guidance carefully, and should follow it equally carefully, as the consequences of not doing so may be serious.

We have tried to make this clear and simple, and we have worked closely with the Students’ Union in developing both documents.

I hope that this is helpful to you. If you have questions about individual circumstances and assessments please contact your Head of Department, Course Leader or Personal Academic Tutor for further assistance.  Thank you for your patience as have moved to our new way of working and new assessment arrangements.

Best wishes

Kevin

_______________________________

Kevin Pickess
Academic Registrar
University of Worcester

Email attachments:

2020.04.23 FAQ for students on feedback
Academic Integrity and Misconduct April 2020

Email to students about volunteering opportunities (Thur 9 April)

Dear Student,

At this time of global uncertainty, it has been heart-warming to see and hear about the different ways people are pulling together. We know that many of you are already giving your time to help your community during this most difficult situation, whether through an official volunteering scheme or just by looking out for neighbours, family and friends. We are incredibly proud of each and every one of you.

There is a national need for more volunteers to come forward and to help you navigate the requests and opportunities, the University and Worcester Students’ Union have launched a new #TeamWorc Volunteering Project and portal:

www.worcester.ac.uk/volunteering 

This simple website allows you to register your specialist skills to help organisations offer you the right opportunity. It provides links to the NHS, Worcestershire County Council’s Here2Help scheme, the Worcester Foodbank, blood donation services, and other organisations looking for support.

The site also offers advice and guidance about ways to stay safe while volunteering and gives you the chance to log your hours through the Students’ Union so that your efforts can be acknowledged on your degree transcript when you graduate.

In addition, we have been working in partnership with a range of employers who require assistance during the current crisis. You can find these paid opportunities on the MyCareer site, which is updated daily:

https://worcester.targetconnect.net/home.html

We'd love to hear about all the ways in which you are getting involved. Share your stories on social media using the hashtags #TeamWorc #Volunteering or email communications@worc.ac.uk and let us know what you’re up to.

With best wishes,

Ross
Ross Renton
Pro Vice Chancellor Students

Harry
Harry Lonsdale
President, Worcester Students’ Union

Email from the Vice Chancellor to students (Fri 3 April)

Dear student

As you know, throughout every stage of this international pandemic, the University of Worcester has been committed to ensuring that the interests of our students are at the heart of every decision that we have taken as we have sought to systematically follow Public Health England and UK Government advice. We have been as open as possible with you about the challenges the University faces and the actions being taken.

I am particularly grateful to the Students’ Union who have engaged so constructively in discussions, and to all of you who have taken the time to write to your lecturers and personal academic tutors with suggestions.  I am confident that we have addressed many of the questions that were raised – for example, providing flexibility to account for differing needs and situations. 

As we begin the Easter holidays, I am writing to remind you of the academic and welfare arrangements that are already in place and to share details about the ongoing support that is available to you. 

Online teaching and learning 

We are doing all we can to ensure students feel supported in progressing or graduating as they planned before the global coronavirus pandemic emerged.

Like most universities, and like most students, we have transformed our approach to learning over the past few weeks. Online learning began on Friday the 20th of March, immediately following the last day of face to face teaching. Each School has taken great care that this revised approach, whether for teaching or assessment, does not disadvantage any student and is sensitive to the individual needs of students across all courses.

You can read more about the Arrangements for online learning on our website.

Assessments

We find ourselves in very uncertain times and we know that current events will be causing students anxiety. We understand that preparing for assessments this year will be challenging, both in practical and emotional terms. This is not the University experience our students were expecting, but there remains important value in our students continuing to study, to revise, and to take assessments.

We have implemented a solution that is as simple and uniform as it can be – with some considered variations where there is a clear need. We believe that our approach is one of the most generous across UK universities in its flexibility and its capacity to reduce complexity, minimise disruption, and provide an equitable approach for all students.

Exceptionally this year, all students on standard, taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses will have the option to submit all or some of your assessments as scheduled in April/May 2020 or to defer all or some of your assessments until the week commencing 6th July 2020. You are able to make your decision by going on to your SOLE page and completing a very short form.

We are writing separately to postgraduate research students and courses with professional placements, such as teacher training and nursing, to outline your options.

You can find further details about our approach to assessments in our recent emails to youExtension to submission deadlines and How to request an extension.

We also understand that all students have been impacted by the effects of the coronavirus, some very severely. Individual cases will of course continue to be considered carefully and sympathetically through our existing mitigating circumstances process.

Why is the University continuing to conduct examinations?

We have given considerable thought as to how we can ensure that we can maintain the academic standard of your education during the challenging and unprecedented situation that we are currently experiencing. A qualification from the University of Worcester is rightly highly regarded. At graduation ceremonies, we remind you that you have earned your degree by your own hard work.

Our responsibility to you is that we ensure that your achievements are reliably assessed and your qualifications are awarded securely. We design academic courses very carefully, including the way in which we assess that you have met the learning outcomes for your course. Examinations are part of that very carefully thought through assessment process. By offering you the opportunity to defer any or all of your assessments to July, we believe that with your continued hard work, we are giving you the best possible chance of succeeding in all of your assignments.

Why aren’t all universities doing the same thing?

Each university has to take decisions that are in the best interests of their own students. Whilst most universities are taking similar approaches to teaching, learning and assessment, there will be some differences based on each institution’s own context and the students studying with them.

Please be assured that we continue to follow national expectations and guidance from the UK Quality Assurance Agency, Universities UK and the Office for Students. 

Accommodation

Unlike many universities, we have not fully closed our campus and have instead kept key facilities open for our students who need them urgently, including accommodation, the Peirson Study and Guidance Centre and the St. John’s campus shop.

Since online learning began on 20 March, the majority of students have returned to family homes and vacated their term time residences. Approximately one quarter of our students have chosen to stay in Worcester in a combination of halls of residence and University managed accommodation. 

Consistent with our commitment to putting the interests of our students first, we have decided to waive the payment due for accommodation provided by the University from March 20 for all University of Worcester students who have already left their University/University managed accommodation by April 3 and do not return this academic year.

We have added additional accommodation guidance and advice, including for students who are living in private, rented accommodation to our Coronavirus information page, which now includes a dedicated series of FAQs.

Car Parking Refunds

All student car parking permits which run beyond March 20 will be refunded. This is a substantial administrative task and will take a little while to process, but you do not need to take any action as we will automatically process this for you. 

Ongoing financial support

We are aware that some students will have questions about Student Finance England maintenance payments and tuition fee loans.

Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, stated the following in her recent letter to students:

“I would like to assure you that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that you will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates, whether or not campuses are closed or learning has moved online.” 

You can read the full letter from the Minister here.

We recognise that some students may be suffering particular and unexpected financial difficulty as a consequence of the current crisis and we have resources available to support them through our Hardship Fund. You can contact our Money Advice team at firstpoint@worc.ac.uk and they will be able to discuss options with you.

Support for you 

Academic and professional staff across the University will be doing everything we can to support you in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to post regular updates to the frequently asked questions on our website:  www.worcester.ac.uk/coronavirus

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered on the website, please get in touch with us on firstpoint@worc.ac.uk

We care deeply about the education and the well-being of every one of our students. I am very grateful to all members of the University community for being so calm, purposeful and kind in tackling this unprecedented, international crisis.

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David M A Green CBE
Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive
University of Worcester

Email to students about University-managed accommodation (Wed 1 April)

Dear student

University of Worcester Accommodation and Car Parking Charges from 20 March 2020.

We know that the current situation raises many questions for students who have been renting University accommodation. These questions arise wherever you are now living.

As you know, throughout every stage of the international pandemic, the University of Worcester has been committed to ensuring that the interests of our students are at the heart of every decision that we have taken as we have sought to systematically follow Public Health England and UK Government advice. We have sought to be as open as possible with you about the challenges the University faces and the actions being taken. This University is very grateful to the Students’ Union for their excellent representation of students’ interests and concerns.

We have put in place arrangements to support students through online learning and have advised students about arrangements for online assessments. Unlike many universities, we have not fully closed our campus and have instead kept key facilities open for our students who need them urgently, including accommodation, the Peirson Study and Guidance Centre and the St. John’s campus shop.

Since online learning began on 20 March, the majority of students have returned to family homes and vacated their term time residences. Approximately one quarter of our students have chosen to stay in Worcester in a combination of halls of residence and University managed accommodation.

In this context, we are aware that some students are concerned about being charged fees for their accommodation and car parking.

Consistent with our commitment to putting the interests of our students first, we have decided to waive the payment due for accommodation provided by the University from March 20 for all University of Worcester students who have already left their University/University managed accommodation by April 3 and do not return this academic year.

We know that some students pay by direct debit while others were due to make a final payment in April. Please be assured that for all those students who have left their accommodation by April 3, we will refund accommodation rental costs from the March 20 onwards. This may take a little time as it is a big administrative task, but don’t worry we will be fair to every student. Of course, the rent must be paid up to March 20.

Students who remain in their University/University managed accommodation will, of course, simply pay their rental as due in the normal way.

You may also like to know that all student car parking permits which run beyond March 20 will be refunded. Again this is a substantial administrative task and will take a little while.

Over the past 10 days, we have been contacting all of our students living in University/University managed accommodation. If you have already told us that you have returned home through contacting a staff member in the accommodation team, you don’t need to take any further action to receive your refund and cancel any further payments. We will process this for you. If you have not heard from us by May 1 please do not hesitate to contact the accommodation team.

Many students have left belongings in Worcester, unsure about whether they were returning this academic year. Under the latest Government social distancing restrictions, travelling to Worcester or the University to collect your belongings is not advisable. This could put yourself and others at risk. Please contact the accommodation team if there is an essential reason you need to travel to collect your belongings.

You can leave your belongings in your accommodation and collect them once the current restrictions have been lifted and you will not be charged to do this. Deposit returns will be processed when your keys are been returned and your room has been checked as part of the normal deposit return process in July/August.

If you are unable to return to collect your belongings, for example you are located abroad, then please email accommodation@worc.ac.uk and we can discuss with you how we might be able to help.

Supporting the NHS

We are also committed to supporting the NHS. There has been a national call to help source additional beds for key workers, such as doctors and nurses. Universities across the country, including Worcester, are standing ready to assist.

If your room is required for this purpose, we will contact you. If you are in residence and your flat is needed, you will be given help to relocate to another flat. If you are no longer living in Worcester and your room is needed we will inform you and then move your belongings to safe storage. There will be no charge for this and our team will handle your belongings carefully and sensitively.

Student Finance England Questions

We are aware that some students will have questions about Student Finance England maintenance payments and tuition fee loans.

Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, stated the following in her recent letter to students:

“I would like to assure you that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that you will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates, whether or not campuses are closed or learning has moved online.”

Thank you for your patience and understanding over the past few days. We do appreciate this is a difficult time for all and we hope providing you with some certainty about your accommodation will be helpful. If you have any further questions, you can contact us at accommodation@worc.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Ross Renton
Pro Vice Chancellor Students

Pro Vice Chancellor's video update (27 March)

Watch Pro Vice Chancellor Ross Renton's coronavirus update from 27 March.

Email to students about support (Friday 27 March)

Dear student,

We know that many of you are worried about Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) and how it is affecting you and your university experience. We have been listening to your questions and completely understand how concerned many of you are for yourselves and your family and friends. This is a most extraordinary time and our first priority has been the protection of our student and staff community.  We are doing whatever we can to provide you with the best possible educational experience during these circumstances, to keep you well-informed and to support your wellbeing. We are grateful for all the messages of support we have received from students and the wider community.

What support is available?

The majority of students are living away from the campus.

Wherever you are living, there is a great deal of online support available to all of our students.

Firstpoint, our student support team, is available to support you virtually. The best way to get in touch with them is through email: firstpoint@worc.ac.uk

The current firstpoint opening hours are 10.00am-4.00pm, Monday to Friday, but please feel free to email at any time, and the team will respond as soon as they can.

They can signpost you to a number of different services, including: 

  • Mental Health resources and virtual counselling appointments
  • Online wellbeing activities, including ‘Fancy a Cuppa’
  • Support for those still living on campus, including access to security
  • Virtual disability and dyslexia appointments
  • Online careers and employability guidance

Our Student Well-being Champions and our Students’ Union are very active on social media at @wellbeingchamp and @worcsu.  They are sharing lots of activities, including online games, watch parties and more to help you stay connected. The Students' Union independent Help and Advice service is able to support you through Skype and phone call appointments. You can contact them at worcsu.com/helpandadvice or alternatively email studentsunion@worc.ac.uk.

This short video, recorded remotely today, also summarises the support that is available to you.

How can I look after my mental health? 

  • Stay connected with people, through social media or other communications channels. We are so proud of how many students and student groups are already supporting each other on social media - so please keep it up! 
  • Agree regular check-in times with loved ones, use group chats and video calls.
  • Keep a regular routine, work through your ‘to do’ list, read a book, go out for a walk or do some exercise every day.
  • Be careful what you read - make sure when your information is from a reputable sources, such as the Government and NHS websites.

Further information is available from the Mental Health Foundation, Student MindsMind.org.uk

How do I look after myself while studying at home?

Long periods of solitary work and screen time can be challenging. Read our tips for looking after yourself while working at home on our remote working page.

What other support is available? 

We have been very active nationally in representing students’ interests on vital matters, including university accommodation rents and other fees. We will provide you with a further update on these matters next week. We are grateful for your understanding and support as we work through the many challenges we are all presented with, and proud of the work many of you are doing to assist your communities and the NHS.

Take care of yourself and others. You are our priority. We realise the unknown is hard and we’re here to support you as one Worcester community.

With all best wishes,

Ross

Ross Renton
Pro Vice Chancellor Students, University of Worcester

Harry

Harry Lonsdale
President, Worcester Students’ Union

#TeamWorc

Universities Minister’s letter to students (Thu 26 March)

Universities Minister’s Letter to Higher Education Students - 26 March

Sending equipment to the NHS video (25 March)

Watch Vice Chancellor Professor David Green explain why equipment from our clinical simulation facility is now on its way to the local hospital Trust in this video update from 25 March.

Email to students about assessment arrangements (Wed 25 March)

Dear Student

I am now able to offer further and more detailed guidance on the assessment arrangements that we have put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Student Assessment Options

As I said in my email on Monday, exceptionally this year, you will have the option to:

  1. Submit all or some of your assessments as scheduled in April/May 2020 or
  2. Defer all or some of your assessments until the week commencing 6th July 2020

For level 6 dissertations/independent study/independent projects only, you will have the option to:

  1. Submit as scheduled on 30th April 2020 or
  2. Request an extension of two weeks until 14th May 2020 or
  3. Defer submission until Wednesday 1st July 2020

This applies to standard taught courses with a September start date.

Nursing and Midwifery students have been contacted separately as they have different dissertation hand in dates. PGCE and undergraduate ITT students will also be contacted separately.

See note below about students studying in partner institutions.

You will be able to make this decision from 10.00am on Friday 27th March by going to your SOLE page and completing a very short form. You must submit your choices by 10.00am on Monday 6th April 2020. If you have not submitted your choices by that deadline, you will be deemed to have chosen to submit assessments on the original due dates in April/May and must do so.

Important: Please Read

Before making your decision, you should take your time to read the following carefully:

  • Once you have made a decision, you cannot change your mind.
  • If you opt to submit in April/May but are unable to submit because, for example, you are unwell, you must claim mitigating circumstances in the usual way.

April/May Submission

  • If you submit all your assessments in April/May and pass them, you will receive confirmation either that you have progressed to the next level of your course, or your degree classification/award in June 2020.
  • If you submit your assessments in April/May, and fail all or some of them, you will resit in July in the usual way. In accordance with our Academic Regulations, you will only be allowed these two assessment opportunities.

July Submission

  • If you submit all your assessments in July and pass them, you will receive confirmation either that you have progressed to the next level of your course, or your degree classification/award in August 2020.
  • If you submit your assessments in July, and fail all or some of them, you will resit in August. In accordance with our Academic Regulations, you will only be allowed these two assessment opportunities.

Examinations

We will be holding exams as scheduled in the week beginning 11th May 2020. However, because of the exceptional circumstances, we will be holding exams online. You will be able to access a copy of the exam timetable in SOLE by 15th April at the latest.

We will be writing to each student registered for an exam to explain in detail how you will be able to sit your exam. This is broadly the way that it will work: your exam paper will be released to you via Blackboard at the scheduled start time of the exam. You will therefore need internet access to log in to your Blackboard page, and to upload your answers at the end of the exam. However, you will not need to stay online for the entirety of the exam.

You will be given extra time to reflect that you are doing the exam online. This is in addition to any extra time that you may be allowed as a reasonable adjustment. If you are allowed extra time as a reasonable adjustment, your end time will be personally calculated and you and your tutor will be told of this.

Over the next few weeks, we will be individually reviewing any other recommended reasonable adjustments, to ensure that we can accommodate them. We will be contacting you personally but it will take a little while.

You are advised to prepare for these exams exactly as you would have for conventional on-campus exams.

Academic Misconduct Regulations will apply throughout and you must submit your exam script by Blackboard. You will not have the opportunity to run your script through Turnitin yourself first as you usually do, because this is a different type of assessment.

When you make your choice of assessment dates as described earlier, you will have the opportunity to tell us if you have any specific difficulties doing exams at home. We will contact you individually if necessary.

In the interest of fairness to all students, we have made the decision to hold all three sittings of exams (May, July and August) online in the same way. There is therefore no advantage in deferring your exams until July, unless you have specific reasons to do so.

Formal teaching will finish as scheduled on 1st May for students not in Nursing, Midwifery and some Education courses. After this, academic staff will be marking exam scripts and coursework, and may take annual leave, as these exceptional arrangements mean that they may now be unable to take annual leave for some of August. Although I am sure that everybody will do their best, you should be aware that they may therefore not be available for additional academic support throughout the period after the May exams and before the July exams.

Wherever possible, therefore, we suggest that you sit the assessments and exams in May as scheduled.

Students studying at partner colleges and institutions

The arrangements for the majority of students studying at partners will be as stated in this email, but there may be some exceptions, which we are currently clarifying.  Students studying at partner colleges and institutions should therefore await further guidance from their course leader before competing and submitting the form.  

I hope that this is helpful to you. I realise that you may have questions about individual circumstances and assessments. Please do contact your Head of Department, Course Leader or Personal Academic Tutor for further assistance, but I would ask you to be patient as we move to our new way of working and new assessment arrangements.

Best wishes

Sarah

Professor Sarah Greer
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost

Radio interview with Head of the School of Allied Health and Community (Wednesday 25 March)

Liz Davies-Ward, Head of the School of Allied Health and Community, is interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester's Elliott Webb (2 hours, 8 and a half minutes into the programme): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08790cj (Wednesday 25 March)

Radio interview with Vice Chancellor (Tue 24 March)

Vice Chancellor Professor David Green is interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester's Andrew Easton (3 hours, 17 and a half minutes into the programme): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08790qn (Tuesday 24 March)

Coronavirus FAQs with Dr Claire Jones (Tue 24 March)

Watch Dr Claire Jones answering questions on Coronavirus.

Email from the Vice Chancellor to students (Tue 24 March)

Dear student,

Novel Coronavirus: Covid-19 Pandemic

I write to you on the first day of the new national restrictions set out in the Prime Minister’s address last night.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-to-the-nation-on-coronavirus-23-march-2020

Throughout these last difficult weeks, student and staff safety and well-being have been the University’s primary focus. Alongside this, we have been doing all we can to help students continue their studies successfully.

I would like to thank you and all your very many fellow students for the outstanding work you are doing to help the local community, country and wider world rise to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, which threatens the lives of so many. Thank-you also for respecting the physical distancing policy and for your positivity generally. I would particularly like to thank the leaders of the Students’ Union who have represented students’ interests professionally and effectively at a truly unprecedented time.

We can all be proud of our many graduates who are working now, ‘at the front’ in the NHS. They face personal risks, as do their families. Their quiet courage and professionalism is rightly an inspiration to all.

I am sure you would like to know that, together with other Universities and the NHS, we have been making arrangements to enable nursing, midwifery and other student groups in health to go into practice to assist in the crisis whilst continuing to receive support from University colleagues.

We can also all be very proud of our professionally qualified colleagues in health who have, in the overwhelming majority, volunteered to be seconded to the NHS, whilst simultaneously providing study support for first year students and others who need to keep on learning for their vital professions.

Speaking for myself, it is an honour to be associated with such students, graduates and colleagues.

We can also be especially proud of our graduates, students and University colleagues in Unitots, and schools and early years settings throughout our City, region and beyond who are continuing to provide outstanding care and education for the children of essential workers, many of whom are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19, as a result of the professional work of their parents.

Students may also like to know that many professional technical colleagues in Science have volunteered to go to work in the science labs, which are doing important work in testing and analysis and where there have been severe capacity constraints. Naturally we are enabling this and are very proud of our colleagues who have responded so readily to this need.

We are also working with NHS and local partners to enable students to work in a wide range of professional capacities to assist nursing homes and other providers of essential services for very vulnerable people. We will be sharing more information in the coming days about the many ways that students can volunteer to help in this crucial, national effort.

In terms of equipment, we have made all the equipment in our clinical simulation suite available to the NHS. There are some significant shortages and we are working closely with NHS colleagues to ensure that appropriate University resources, from beds and tables to screens and stethoscopes, can be pressed into service to allow intensive care to be as well-resourced and extensive as possible.

As a small thank-you from the NHS for all you have done, are doing and will continue to do Dr. Claire Jones, one of Worcester’s top GPs, has responded to questions for a special short film purpose-created for students of the University of Worcester. Please view it and feel free to share it:

Coronavirus FAQs with Dr. Claire Jones

As you may know, there are a small number of students who have remained living in Halls of Residence and University Managed Housing because the University is their home. There is also a slightly larger number living in other rented property in the City. We have made provision for some study and support facilities, with appropriate physical distancing, to be available for these students.

Thanks to outstanding professional work from many dedicated members of staff throughout the University we have an excellent range of e-books available (over half a million) and our e-learning programme is in full swing. A clear, compassionate, effective policy on assessment in these unprecedented circumstances has been devised and communicated to every student and all members of staff involved.

I know we are all grateful to the members of staff in the University’s IT Department, who have been outstanding in keeping our network going and enabling very many students and staff to have equipment which will enable them to study and work as effectively as possible from a distance.

A series of other important practical questions ranging from how to continue with counselling support to financial matters are being and have been addressed. While these are, of necessity, being worked through in a systematic fashion, I can assure you that we are very active nationally on representing students’ interests on vital matters connected with rents and fees in particular. These are national questions which will need a national solution and we will let you know as soon as there is progress.

I know that there will be many practical questions in the days and weeks ahead. I am very grateful for the work of all the colleagues at the University in Facilities, Communications, Registry, Finance, Student Services and all the Departments and Schools of the University who have enabled such a broad and effective response to be made to this international crisis.

Thank-you so much for playing your part and doing your bit.

You are an inspiration for the good and our hope for the future.

I am sure the whole University community will rise to face the challenges together.

Thank you so much.

With all best wishes,

Professor David M A Green CBE
Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive

As letters are found by some to be rather impersonal I have also responded to questions in a short film which can be viewed here:

Response to the coronavirus: 24 March

Email to students about campus access (Mon 23 March)

Dear student

Following the Government’s announcements over the weekend, which again emphasised the importance of rigorous social distancing, we are making further updates to campus operations from 17:00 tomorrow (Tuesday 24 March) and details are below.

A significant amount of work and planning has taken place to ensure that the University is in the best possible place to meet the needs of our students and that we can continue to operate with only core staff remaining on campus.

From 5pm tomorrow the majority of our buildings will be closed and most students studying from home.

The following buildings will remain open:

St John’s Campus

  • Elgar Building: the main reception will be staffed from 9am until 5pm daily. The canteen will close tonight.
  • Peirson Building: Firspoint will move to online support only on Tuesday. They can be contacted on firstpoint@worc.ac.uk. The building will remain open, allowing access to computers for students who do not have access to their own device.
  • The Students’ Union shop

Vehicle access to the St. John’s campus will be through the Severn Gate

City Campus

  • Charles Hastings building, with access to a computer lab and main reception only. The main reception will be staffed from 9am until 5 pm daily.

While the majority of students have already returned home and will remain at home until campus returns to normal operations, we will be keeping the student residences open to support those students who are unable to return home. 

The Hive Library is currently open, with restricted hours and extensive social distancing measures, and this is being kept under constant review in consultation with colleagues at the County Council.  The Hive’s extensive collection of over 300,000 e-books will remain available online. (Update: The Hive Library will now also close tomorrow evening)

All other buildings and sites will close from 5pm tomorrow evening.

Please continue to check this page for updates. 

All best wishes

Communications and Participation

Email to students about deadlines (Mon 23 March)

Dear Student

I am writing to explain how the University is intending to manage the scheduled assessments over the coming months, as we face the coronavirus pandemic together.

As you know, we have had to deal with a very complicated, unprecedented and rapidly changing situation over the past week. We have been closely following government and Public Health England guidance throughout.

We have also been moving staff and students from face to face to remote teaching, ensuring that we can continue in the current situation to deliver the teaching that you need to complete your course. We have been addressing issues with student placements, particularly for health and education students in the NHS and schools. The situation has been changing daily. We are also conscious that external events impact differently on different courses, and have been working to try to manage that.

In addition, we have been ensuring that the University’s core services in terms of cleaning, catering, IT, the Hive have been continuing for as long as possible. With 1,600 staff and around 10,000 students, studying a variety of courses, which are taught and assessed in different ways, this has been a significant undertaking.

Our staff are facing the same challenges as any other person in the UK and indeed across the world. Some of them are having to self-isolate, some are social distancing due to ill health, some are caring for loved ones, and some of them are unwell. It is an extraordinary time for all of us, and we are grateful that you understand and respect the enormity of the task that the University community is facing.

Some of you have written to express concern over the forthcoming assessments. We understand this concern and have been working hard over the past week to identify a solution which would work both for students who have asked if assessments can be delayed, and students who have asked that they are not delayed. We are also working with around 50 separate Professional Statutory and Regulatory bodies governing many of our courses, to ensure that we comply with their guidance.

Some assessments, particularly those which require a practical element, have had to be amended: we are unable to continue with assessments which require face to face group work, or face to face teaching. We are also unable to continue with in person lab work. Over the past week, colleagues have been carefully working through every single planned assessment, to ensure that it can be appropriately amended to ensure that it assesses whether you meet the learning outcomes of your course.

In order to reflect this, we are doing two things.

  1. We are proposing that we run the assessments scheduled over the next six or so weeks, ending on 15 May 2020, as planned. Submission will be online: this is something that we do for the majority of our assessments already.
  1. However, we will offer every student the opportunity to defer their assessment until early July 2020, week beginning 6 July. 

You will be able to choose to complete the assessments as planned in April/May, or, if you wish, to defer your first attempt until July 2020. Once you have made this choice, you cannot change your mind.

The only exception, of course, is if you opt to complete your assessments in April/May and then become unwell or are unable to submit for other reasons. In these circumstances, you would complete a mitigating circumstances form.

Dissertations, independent study or independent projects for level 6 students would work slightly differently. For these, you have three options:

  • Submit on time on 30 April 2020.
  • Ask to defer submission until 6 July 2020
  • Ask for a two week extension under the usual procedures, which would mean submission on 13 May 2020.

Students in the Three Counties School of Nursing and Midwifery will have slightly different arrangements, to reflect the specific nature of your courses. An email will be sent to you by your Head of School tomorrow.

I realise that you will have many individual questions on how these arrangements will work, including detailed arrangements for exams. I would ask that you hold those questions until after Wednesday 25 March, when I will send you more detail of how this will work in practice, and what you need to do.

We understand that this has been an anxious time for you. Thank you to the Students’ Union for working with us. Thank you too for the individual messages of support that we have received. We are grateful for your patience and understanding and it underlines just how exceptional and community spirited our students are.

Best wishes

Sarah

Professor Sarah Greer
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost 

Vice Chancellor's video updates (Wed 18 March)

Professor David Green updates on the University's move to online teaching and the implications of the school closure announcement.

You can also watch Dr Claire Jones answering questions on Coronavirus.

Vice Chancellor's email to students (Wed 18 March)

Dear student

After much careful consideration and discussion, the University has decided to move to fully online teaching from this Friday, the 20th of March, up to the end of Easter in the first instance. Assessments and exams will be completed online or submitted electronically.

You can find further details about the arrangements on our website. Anyone who needs specific, practical advice in relation to their studies should contact their School office.

Essential facilities, including our halls of residence, study spaces, the Library, Students’ Union and the cafeteria will remain available, with additional measures in place to encourage social distancing.

Nationally, the response to the Covid-19 virus continues to evolve. We will continue to update you by email and through our website, about the University’s response over the coming days and weeks.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David M A Green CBE
Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive

Vice Chancellor's email to students (Tue 17 March)

Dear student

The University remains open, including all of the usual facilities such as accommodation, firstpoint and the canteen. As I wrote to you last week, face to face teaching is continuing.

If you feel unwell, it is important that you take the following steps:

  • Follow the official NHS advice and self-isolate if you have the specific symptoms of Covid-19, which include a continuous cough or a high temperature
  • Contact us at the University by notifying us through your SOLE page.  You’ll find the new ‘report an absence’ link at the top of the Student Notices page when you sign in

Nationally, the response to the Covid- 19 virus continues to evolve. We have therefore been making preparations to ensure that you are able to continue your studies as well as possible in the current circumstances.  You can find all of the latest information on the dedicated page on our website, including details about preparations for online teaching and assessment.  

You may find these video bulletins, which have been published today, particularly helpful:

  1. Continuation of face to face teaching
  2. Completing your course and assessments

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David M A Green CBE
Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive

Vice Chancellor's video update (Mon 16 March)

Professor David Green updates on the University's response to coronavirus as of Monday 16 March

Vice Chancellor's email to students (Fri 13 March)

Dear University of Worcester student,

I am writing to all members of the University about the Covid-19 pandemic and the University’s response.

I know this is a time when many students are concerned for the health and welfare of family, friends and neighbours as well as their own.

Our aim is to do what we can to limit the transmission of this virus and the adverse impact that it has on human health.

Firstly, may I thank all those students who have been, and are involved, in preparing to minimise the spread of the virus in Worcester and our wider region.

I am very grateful to all those members of the University who are carefully following the excellent advice given by Public Health England and the NHS.

As we all know this involves regular, thorough hand washing, keeping your hands away from your face and scrupulous cleaning of surfaces on which the virus can live.

What is the Government response?

Yesterday (March 12), the UK government decided that everyone who has a cough, temperature or both should self-isolate for up to 7 days.

According to this coronavirus BBC article, the government’s chief science adviser says: “Telling those with a high temperature or cough to self-isolate for a week will have the "biggest impact" in the fight against coronavirus, the UK's chief science adviser says.

We know that you will support the community by following this advice.

If you need to self-isolate and live in University or University managed accommodation please inform us immediately by either calling 01905 542502 or emailing security@worc.ac.uk

If you, a friend, fellow student, family member or anyone you know does need to follow this advice then this NHS guidance is clear and helpful.

How is the University Responding?

In terms of the University’s response, we have concentrated on doing those things we can to limit the transmission of the virus and its impact on human health by scrupulously following Public Health England, NHS and Government advice and applying this to our own circumstances.

You may already have noticed, for example, that we have intensified the cleaning regime at the University, particularly in areas where there are many smooth surfaces which are frequently touched.

As you know, the UK government has decided at this time that it is best not to close Universities as has happened in a number of other countries.

There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that University students, in the great majority, are not a vulnerable group in the population as is quite clear from the statistical analysis of the impact of coronavirus by age.

Following government advice means that at Worcester we are continuing to provide our full normal teaching timetable whilst simultaneously promoting the NHS/Public Health England advice. We intend to continue in this way. Of course, at some point there may be some cancellations and you yourself may need to self-isolate for 7 days. In such an event please contact your personal academic tutor for specific advice. Please do not worry about “missing something vital”. Health is the first priority.

Where can you find more information?

I am sure that there are many questions which is why the University has prepared a set of Frequently Asked Questions which you can access above.

This web-page is being regularly updated as the situation evolves. Please do consult it regularly and feel free to share it with fellow students, friends, family and anyone you think may find it useful.

Naturally, we are also preparing for the possibility of teaching in lectures and seminars being cancelled. We are well advanced should this become necessary and will ensure that examinations and assessments can be properly carried out and that students have access to all the proper help you need and expect to succeed in your studies and earn your qualification and, in many cases, your professional registration.

We are also working closely with our partners in the schools, hospitals, Health Trusts, regulatory bodies and government departments to ensure that students who are on teaching practice or on placements in hospitals and health settings are able to continue their vital work and training and that any adaptations do not disadvantage students in terms of qualification.

If the University does have to close for on-campus classes at some point, we will allow students to continue to live in University accommodation and to support students generally with the ongoing provision of library, security, catering and other services in line with ongoing Government advice.

We are currently working with NHS colleagues to see if we an established a training/volunteering programme which will help us all gain the expertise we need to be as useful as possible to family, friends, neighbours and society.

All of these highly practical matters are being tackled with the calm professionalism which is characteristic of the culture here at the University.

Covid-19 is a big challenge to human society. We already know a great deal about it. Whilst dangerous, particularly to older and ore vulnerable people, it is not a mass-scale deadly pandemic for younger people in the same way as was the ‘Spanish flu’ epidemic of 1918-20.

I am very grateful to students, staff and all members of the University community for being so calm, purposeful and professional in both individual and group responses. Many members of the University community have been exemplary in countering disinformation with science-based evidence and rational, thoughtful, compassionate responses.

Thank-you so much for your contribution to this vital work.

If you have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact your personal academic tutor or firstpoint.

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David M A Green CBE
Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive

Email to students with information about coronavirus

Dear student,

We are aware that many students will have questions and concerns about coronavirus (Covid-19).

The safety and wellbeing of our community is, and always will be, our highest priority.

The University is acting on advice from sources including Public Health England, the NHS, the World Health Organisation and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We are following the situation closely, have made plans to act quickly if the situation changes and will provide further updates as necessary. You should continue to attend your classes unless you have been specifically advised otherwise. At this time there is currently no advice to prevent groups of people gathering for educational purposes (e.g. lectures and tutorials).

During the current phase to prevent or delay a wider outbreak in the UK, we have increased the frequency of cleaning of key areas and are ensuring that liquid soap is readily available. We are displaying posters around the campus and on our plasma screens, reminding our staff, students and visitors about the importance of good, personal hygiene – particularly in relation to thorough and frequent handwashing. 

This is an evolving situation and we will continue to follow the guidance from the UK Government and public health authorities and will share information with University of Worcester students, staff and visitors. We have set up a dedicated webpage, which includes a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section:

www.worcester.ac.uk/coronavirus

Please refer to this page for accurate and updated advice about the coronavirus and our response at Worcester. We will update this page regularly with more information as it becomes available. You should also refer to the following sites for the latest official information and guidance:

If you have any concerns about your health you should contact the free NHS 111 telephone helpline and check the see the Public Health England website for the latest official advice.

With best wishes,

Ross

 

Ross Renton
Pro Vice Chancellor Students | University of Worcester

Further information about coronavirus, and our response, can be found on our main coronavirus information page.