Coronavirus causes chaos across campuses

Some universities have cancelled their varsities, while others have postponed graduation ceremonies and recalled Erasmus students.

Grace Dean
15th March 2020
Photo by Malwina Filipczuk
Durham and Northumbria are among the UK universities who have decided to suspend all in-person teaching in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Universities who have suspended classroom-based teaching include Aberdeen, Durham, Northumbria, King’s College London, Sheffield, Cardiff, Lancaster, Robert Gordon, Glasgow Caledonian, West of Scotland, Reading, Strathclyde, Loughborough, London School of Economics and Lancaster.

At the University of Aberdeen, all face-to-face teaching has been suspended and library opening times have been amended so that it can be thoroughly cleaned each night. The Students’ Association has additionally postponed all events and written exams are being put on hold, with hard copies of assignments no longer being required either.

Universities in the Republic of Ireland have suspended all on-site teaching. University College Cork has announced a full campus-wide shut-down until March 30, with its Erasmus students having also been recalled.

At Southampton, students were informed on Friday that the University was bringing the Easter break forward and some courses have announced that deadlines were being extended accordingly. All international and UK field trips will be postponed for six weeks, and summer graduation will be postponed, with final-year students instead being given a longer academic year to complete their course.

The University of Leeds made the radical decision to shift all teaching and learning to online from Monday 27 April. The nightclub at Lancaster Students' Union has shut indefinitely.

A club night was similarly cancelled at Sheffield Students' Union, where all face-to-face teaching has also been suspended after a staff member who works in the Arts Tower (see photo, right) tested positive on Friday afternoon. The top 11 floors of the building have been closed, but other university buildings and services will remain open for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, the decision by Strathclyde University to suspend all face-to-face teaching was not driven by university management but instead by department heads and lecturers who expressed resentment at the University's inaction. Prior to this, Strathclyde Telegraph had announced that there was a disconnect between the University’s “open as normal” stance and sympathetic emails from lecturers urging worried students to stay away from classes. Staff have additionally expressed concerns about whether they will be paid for classes which are delivered online.

Sports events have also been cancelled at a number of UK universities. The varsities between Leicester and De Montfort, and Bradford and Huddersfield, have been cancelled, and the varsity between Southampton and Portsmouth Universities, which was due to take place on Sunday afternoon in front of over 1000 spectators, was cancelled with just two days' notice. The student media branches at Southampton had already decided to suspend their coverage prior to the cancellation, and alongside sponsors Domino's.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed among students and staff at the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol and Oxford, which has reported six cases among students and which has consequently told all British undergraduate students to return home “unless they have a compelling reason to stay”. A recent visitor to the University of Southampton has also tested positive.

The Courier additionally has produced detailed coverage of the closures at Northumbria and Durham Universities.

UPDATE (16 March): classroom-based teaching to be suspended at Newcastle

Cover photo: Aberdeen University by Malwina Filipczuk

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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