Newcastle University’s academic year in a nutshell

Chloe Buchan considers if it flopped or passed with flying colours

Chloe Buchan
10th May 2021
Image: Patana Rattananavathong on Flickr
Nobody can deny that this academic year was completely unprecedented. Similarly, nobody can deny that after a rocky end to last year, the Uni had ample time to prepare for a year of remote teaching and ‘a new normal’. So, did it succeed?

This question largely hinges on what course you study. As an English Lit student, I count myself lucky to be able to do a lot of reading and research from home. As such, I haven’t felt hugely disadvantaged by not attending in-person lectures or seminars. Of course, it is a common phenomenon that Zoom seminars are crippling awkward. Being unable to gauge body language in person makes it incredibly difficult to find appropriate gaps in conversation to fill without interrupting someone or stumbling over a line of conversation.

Regardless, I would much prefer to have Zoom seminars than not at all. I’ve still benefitted greatly from the discussions with my peers and tutors, particularly given that English is so subjective. One of the best forms of learning is talking through ideas and throwing new concepts into conversation. Moreover, the faculty have been so helpful when it comes to offering options for one-on-one conversations and scheduling drop-ins.

Despite this, I fully acknowledge that I am undoubtedly one of the luckier ones. I have heard some stories from friends on other courses about tutors not replying to query emails for weeks. When tutors do finally get round to it, they’re brief in their responses. There are also lecturers using old and bad-quality footage off Recap to teach this year’s content, rather than creating new resources to adapt to the current climate. Furthermore, in some courses, I have friends being assessed for lab reports that they have to complete with other students. I fail to see the merit of this when there is no possibility of being able to meet up to actually work on it together.

I believe that there is a broad spectrum between different courses. Some have adapted fantastically to this new way of teaching, whereas others haven’t so much. As it goes, though, I feel hopeful that the next academic year might be different. Maybe we will finally be able to step foot on campus once again.

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