Only six Russell Group unis have confirmed all teaching will be in-person, despite easing of Covid rules

‘Online lectures should be scrapped’

Eight of the 24 Russell Group universities are set to continue with online learning, despite the easing of Covid restrictions and ministers’ pleas for face-to-face teaching.

The Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, last week said that there was no longer any excuse for teaching remotely and that online lectures should be scrapped.

Only six Russell Group unis said they could guarantee all teaching would be in-person, while the rest would not confirm either way. Some are keeping large lectures remote while holding smaller sessions in person.

Rules on face-to-face learning were lifted in May 2021, but some universities are continuing online learning while charging the full £9,250-a-year fees. Only Birmingham, Nottingham, Durham, Manchester, York and Newcastle said they would return to full in-person teaching this term except for medical or Covid outbreak reasons.

Of those keeping online learning, many said it was in response to feedback from students saying they liked it.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Nadhim Zahawi said students should consider taking action against universities that force them to attend Zoom lectures. He encouraged them to challenge institutions that provide ‘insufficient’ face-to-face teaching.

Now, universities will have to tell students exactly how much face-to-face teaching they will get, before they start their degrees, Nadhim Zahawi has told The Times.

He said: “We are one of the first major economies to demonstrate the transition from pandemic to endemic. Students can challenge their universities if they feel that they’re not being provided with face-to-face education. It’s a critical part of the student experience and what they expect.

“There are a number of universities that have got it right with the proportion of in-person teaching and using online learning during the pandemic. Putting in-person lectures online so students can catch up, that is good. Just doing online isn’t.

“Universities can’t use blended learning as an excuse to cut costs and to take away from students’ experiences. We’ve lifted restrictions on in-person learning. There should be no universities using Covid guidance as a cost-cutting exercise.”

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