Student update - issued Friday 19 March
Dear Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate students,
The First Minister’s update earlier this week provided a clear timetable for our emergence from lockdown and a gradual easing of the restrictions we have experienced since 5 January.
The full details of the timetable are available here, but the key points are as follows:
- From 2 April the current ‘stay at home’ rule will be replaced by guidance to ‘stay local’ (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period).
- From 26 April restrictions on non-essential travel are lifted, including between the Scotland and the rest of the UK (to be kept under review); 6 people from 3 households can meet outdoors; social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households.
- From 17 May colleges and universities can return to blended learning; small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints; restrictions on outdoor social gatherings will be eased further and indoor meetings can resume (4 individuals from 2 households).
With infection rates now significantly below their peak, this week’s national update provides renewed optimism as we continue to navigate a path through what we hope are the latter stages of the pandemic.
The University is still awaiting detail on how the Scottish Government’s timetable might allow an opening up of our activities, and we will keep you informed on developments – in the meantime, we’d like to update you on the following.
Possible return to on-campus teaching
Last month we announced the difficult decision that teaching and assessment for undergraduates will remain online for the rest of the second half session, and that decision still stands.
However, there will now be opportunities for us to consider which Postgraduate Taught students we can bring back to campus for teaching over the summer period. There may also be some opportunities for fieldwork for some undergraduate students where national guidance allows. Discussions are taking place at University level and with Schools and further information will be provided by your Schools in the coming weeks.
Both our currently available libraries, The Sir Duncan Rice Library and the Medical Library, will be open during the University rest days (5 - 7 April), between 10am and 5pm to provide study spaces and click and collect services.
Spring break and travel restrictions
It is still illegal in Scotland to travel away from your term-time residence without a reasonable excuse. Please make sure you’re familiar with the list of reasonable excuses set out by the Scottish Government. Going on holiday is NOT a reasonable excuse.
If you have a reasonable excuse to leave Aberdeen, please make sure you take a Covid test before you leave. You can book an appointment at our testing facility at the Butchart Centre on University Road here.
Limited resumption of sports activity
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, there will also be scope for limited sports activity to resume. We are working with our partners at Aberdeen Sports Village to programme activities in line with revised national guidance. All group activity will be conducted via our network of student sports clubs, and AUSA is in contact with Club Presidents to assess demand and timetable permissible activity.
It is important, however, that everyone recognises that opportunities must be guided by current restrictions. At this stage only those already based in Aberdeen will be eligible, and anyone who breaches travel or other Covid-19 restrictions will not be permitted to participate.
Our main travel guidance to students not currently in Aberdeen is that you should only return if permitted to do so as part of your studies, or under exceptional circumstances such as mental health concerns or parental estrangement. If you are a Sports Club member, your President will be in touch soon to discuss these opportunities.
Looking back and looking ahead
We hope you have found this update helpful. Just over a year ago we suspended face to face teaching in response to advice from the Scottish and UK Governments, eventually moving to our model of blended learning in line with national restrictions.
The past year has been hugely challenging for our entire University community, but we are now starting to see a clear path taking us beyond the pandemic, towards a brighter future. Nonetheless we must remain mindful of the importance of continuing to adhere to national guidance, including FACTS, as we seek to protect ourselves and those around us.
Finally, on Wednesday our Senate voted through our ‘Comprehensive Measures for Fair and Consistent Assessment in the Context of Covid-19’, which is a positive step that protects our students from disadvantage. Further information is available here.
Throughout the pandemic we have sought to prioritise the well-being of our students, and this remains our fundamental aim. Our Wellbeing Toolkit remains available as a source of support, and our FAQs provide answers to a range of questions you may have regarding your University experience. If your query cannot be answered there, then please email email@example.com
We know this has been a challenging year for everyone, and we want to say well done for all that you have achieved during this time. We hope that you can take a moment to reflect on, and take pride in, your efforts.
Ruth and Debbie
Professor Ruth Taylor
Director of People