Online lectures ‘likely’ to continue at Edinburgh Uni for ‘some time to come’, VC warns

Small-group teaching will still continue

Social distancing and online lectures are likely to continue at the University of Edinburgh for “some time to come,” the Vice-Chancellor has warned.

In an interview on Radio 4 Today, Peter Mathieson said having “hundreds of students packed into in lecture theatres” would probably not be “safe or possible” when asked about Cambridge University’s recent decision to move all lectures online until Summer 2021.

He added the University intends to employ a “hybrid model” with small-group teaching, and “all the other campus experiences which distinguish us” set to continue.

“We haven’t talked about a fully online model,” he said. “Lectures may be online and we were doing that anyway – we’re very good at that, but actually small-group teaching will continue.”

The VC was also asked about the financial impact of the likely loss of international students, to which he responded:  “The government could help with conveying the message that the UK remains a very safe and productive place to come and study your university years.

There are certainly doubts now in terms of safety, in terms of access to healthcare, and evidence of xenophobia against foreign students.”

He said the tightening of international visa rules has had an unintended impact on international students, even before coronavirus.

Asked whether charging Scottish students was a likely possibility, he said: “Charging Scottish students tuition fees wouldn’t solve our financial problem.

“We depend on international student fees for cross-subsidy of research and other activities that we want to carry out.

“It’s very circular – our international reputation depends really on the league tables and the league tables depend really on our search activities.

If we’re not able to do that research we’re not able to retain that standing.”

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