Universities could be fined for failing to return to in-person teaching, minister warns

Inspectors will be sent to university campuses to check staff attendance rates

Michelle Donelan has warned that if universities fail to return to face-to-face teaching, they may face large penalties.

The universities minister told The Mail on Sunday she plans to “put boots on the ground” and send teams of inspectors to check staff attendance rates at campuses across the UK.

Where universities don’t meet the required standards, they could “potentially be fined or could even lose the ability to access money from the student loan system.”

“We’re all enjoying the freedoms that the vaccine has enabled us to have,”the minister said. ” Students and lecturers will be going to the pub, going out for meals, they’ll be going to parties, going to weddings, probably concerts, so it doesn’t actually make sense that they can’t then be in a lecture theatre.”

She aded: “I’ve not heard a reasonable rationale for why we would want students to be on a second track to the rest of the population. In fact, I think it is really wrong.”
At the start of the year three in four students who took a Tab Instagram poll said their education should involve a combination of in-person and online teaching.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, told The Times: “Universities understand the value of face-to-face teaching and that’s why in-person teaching and learning is the main method of delivering most courses at most universities across the UK.

“Like every sector, the pandemic has changed the way universities work, with significant advances made in digital teaching and learning.

“Students have been clear that these developments help them learn, can make the learning experience more accessible and flexible and enhances digital skills valued by employers. Many universities have responded to this positive student feedback by including some digital learning alongside in-person learning opportunities.”

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