Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has decided to move all face-to-face teaching online as “a precautionary measure” against the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the UK.
The university has said all teaching – including lectures and seminars on campus – will not take place after Monday, March 16, and online teaching will begin on Monday, March 23.
Lectures are unlikely to run as normal before the start of the new term after Easter and NTU has also said it “may well be that our on-line approach needs to continue into the summer.”
Details of how the change in approach will affect individual courses and assessments at the university are still being worked out.
It has also been announced the varsity sports series with the University of Nottingham will not take place this year.
Professor Edward Peck, vice-chancellor at NTU, said: “We judge we have now reached the point where it is in the best interests of our community to start transitioning to online learning as a precautionary measure.
“The University will remain open, but all face to face teaching will pause from close of play today, Monday 16th March. Online learning will commence from Monday 23rd March.
“We do not envisage face to face teaching before the start of next term at the earliest and it may well be that our online approach needs to continue into the summer.
“During this week, students should decide where they wish to be when our online learning provision commences on next Monday and then make travel arrangements.
“Of course students may choose to stay in accommodation in Nottingham. Communal areas, such as libraries, gym facilities, and canteens, will remain open. We will continue to clean these areas thoroughly.
“We have agreed with the University of Nottingham that the varsity sports series will not take place this year.
“It is inevitable that students will have questions about course, assignments and assessments. Teaching staff are currently working through the detail of what this will mean for particular courses and individual students.
“Anyone due, and on course, to graduate this year will do so with a classified degree. We are working through how assessments will operate if online learning has to continue past the end of this term.
“If you are a student at NTU, please regularly check your email to hear more details about your course from your teaching staff. If you work at NTU and need further information, please check the staff newsroom via MyNTU.”
NTU’s change in response to the coronavirus comes after previously stating it would try to maintain “business as usual”, which prompted students to tell Nottinghamshire Live today (March 16) they think the university should move to online learning.
More than 2,000 people signed a petition to call on a Nottingham university to switch to online teaching in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Li Tik Ki, a 22-year-old MA business management and finance student, said: “There are about 2,000 students who have signed an online petition and 500 that have put their names on a list. I don’t think lectures are the most ideal environment in terms of hygiene.
“Lots of international students are heading home already and there’s becoming less and less tickets available. A lot of them all know they are risking their student visas.
“I looked at one airline yesterday and there were only business class tickets that were more than £7,000. It’s meant I can’t afford to get back home to Hong Kong.”
Celia Chan, a 19-year-old fashion design student in her first year, is also from Hong Kong and is worried about how the preventative measures she is taking will affect her learning.
She said: “The virus is spreading easily and in small spaces with lots of people.
“I’m leaving the university to get back home to Hong Kong this week because here in the UK people are just being told to stay home, but to me in Hong Kong it seems easier to get medical help and everyone is wearing face masks.
“I think the university being open is a big risk. I had a presentation to do next week which is quite important but I’ve decided I’m not going to risk my health.”
Qian Jiang, who is 19 and studying graphic design in her first year thinks her course – which is “quite practical” – can still be studied from home.
She said: “I think the main problem is the lectures because hundreds of people are in one room. Although the mortality rate is low for young people, we then come into contact with lots of other people.
“I’m not even trying to get back home near Hong Kong because I’m worried about catching something while travelling.
“Clearly a lot of people don’t agree with what the government is saying because universities are closing.”
The University of Nottingham has also decided to move its learning to online lectures and seminars from March 23.