October 2020 - ASK Session for Parents and carers of Self isolating students. Watch the video here
May 2020 - Ask the Principal session. Watch the Video here
- What steps is Aberdeen taking to achieve its international commitments as outlined in Aberdeen 2040? How will the current pandemic hinder or bolster the approaches the university takes?
Despite the current situation we are working hard to expand our international reach. Although the current situation has made this challenging it has also brought forth some opportunities which will be beneficial in the longer term. These include the greater acceptance of remote learning both by students and national regulatory authorities and sponsors and an increased drive to develop opportunities for virtual mobility. Our range of partners overseas continues to grow the School of Engineering will be commencing a new Joint Education Programme in Civil Engineering with Harbin Engineering University in September, an important milestone in our aim to expand the breadth of agreements across the University. This has already begun with considerable work by the School of Natural and Computing Science in developing articulation programmes with South China Normal University in Guangzhou. We continue to work on the planning for Phase 2 of the Qatar campus and expand our provision on the current site. There is considerable evidence coming from our key markets that the demand for an international education remains strong and whilst the pandemic has made the conventional recruitment market challenging it has enabled us and key partners to reconsider the means by which we deliver our education and develop new routes and opportunities.
- Do you think this pandemic will give a positive or negative effect to the future employee, especially in 2021?
The situation is challenging in the immediate short term (a survey by the Institute of Student Employers reported that around a quarter of their members who responded were anticipating a reduction in the number of graduates they would be recruiting). The impact on the graduate job market in the longer term and into next year is still uncertain. It is likely that some sectors will be impacted more than others. Throughout this time, it is important to remember that whilst there is an impact on recruitment, there are still job opportunities to apply for. For example, there are currently 240 graduate vacancies advertised on the Careers and Employability Service jobs website.
There is an opportunity throughout this month to participate in the new virtual University Employability Boost Award which is recommended to help students and graduates plan their professional and skills development at this uncertain time.
- Is the University planning to offer student summer jobs as in previous years?
With the current situation, the campus is closed so we are unable to run the Aberdeen Internship Programme in summer 2020. We will be reviewing possibilities to run future internship programmes such as the Aberdeen Intern+ part time internship programme. In the meantime, the Careers & Employability Service are working hard to identify suitable opportunities for students this summer, such as virtual internships and short-term jobs. These are listed on the website.
- What are your plans to reopen campus, in particular, access to labs and the libraries?
The Covid-19 Campus Planning Group has been set up to co-ordinate our plans to return to on-campus based work for staff and PhD students. The Group will also set up sub-groups to focus on specific areas of activity, including laboratory-based research and the opening of the library. An early priority for the Group will be to develop plans for the controlled access to campus for the collection of work materials when the Government begins to lift the current restrictions. The Group will also develop plans for a phased return to on-campus working that are sufficiently adaptable to be able to accommodate a range of scenarios, including ongoing social distancing for an extended period.
We would like to reassure all students that a digital library service will continue to be available while our physical libraries close and we will continue to support you in your studies. Library staff will be working remotely to answer all queries and point you in the direction of appropriate digital material. The opening of the library will be considered by the campus planning group.
I appreciate that working/studying from home is difficult and would encourage you to review the information on the wellbeing pages of the website which has lots of advice and resources to help you through these difficult times.
- Do you have the plan to reopen the campus for research students, as the UK government encourages people to work in some circumstances
We have already started detailed planning to enable the phased return of lab and field-based research to campus when the current restrictions are modified to allow this.
- If student's grades drop significantly during the coronavirus outbreak, not to the extent of failing but enough to lower their grade by a classification, what will the university do to rectify it?
If a student’s grades have dropped, their classification will not be affected and will be based on their achievements to that point. More information can be found here
- With regards to measures in the “no detriment policy”, especially widening the criteria for borderline candidates, does this apply to third years who have taken their honours courses during Covid19 and will graduate next year?
Yes it does apply. More information can be found here
- Why didn’t you push the exams/assessments until summer?
We wanted to ensure that students had the opportunity to complete the requirements for progression and completion as close to the original timeframes as possible. We put in place alternative assessment across the university to enable this.
- What will the exam period look like next semester. Will exams be in December or January. Will this affect students if they are going on an exchange or Erasmus?
Assessment will take place in the first half session and will be completed by December. Schools have the opportunity (anyway, not because of Covid-19) to adjust their approach to assessment and guidance will be in place to support that process. There will be no formal assessment diet in January so there will be no impact on students going abroad.
- Will the University assist Distance Learning student outside of the UK by doing some kind of financial support during this difficult time?
Funding for fees is not available centrally, this is handled at a local level in Schools. Emergency support is available if you can evidence emergency hardship through Student Advice and Support Office (regardless of location) as long as you are a registered student. We do not give anyone longer-term funding support or maintenance – we only support hardship in the short term.
- I am a single parent. If the university and rocking horse nursery isn’t open it will make things very difficult for me to work from home. Will there be any extra measures put in place for students in this position?
This will be dependent on the prevailing guidance on lockdown and access to campus. A move to blended learning will offer a more flexible way to engage in the next half session.
- When will the University restart face to face teaching activities?
We are developing blended learning for all of our courses for September 2020 in the first instance. Blended learning is a term we are using to indicate the practicalities associated with ensuring that all students are able to access their studies online until we are able to bring them back on to campus. Some students may be able to join us before others.
All Schools have met with us to discuss the scope, scale and timescales for what they each need to do. The Schools have their own task and finish groups to lead, organise and monitor progress for blended learning.
When we know more about on-campus opportunities, we will work with Schools so we can take this forward appropriately. We are likely to prioritise areas such as clinical and lab-based learning.
We don’t know what January will bring. However, we have a planning group leading work on how we will return to campus, once official guidance says it is safe to do so.
- Are there plans by the university to review the tuition fees downwards...
especially for some of us who may have lost jobs or who are now living on pay-cuts as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic and who may no longer be able to afford the current tuition rate.
I recognise the difficulties that Covid-19 presents our students, particularly those who work alongside their studies. Many of our students benefit from working part time, often in shops and bars, which have obviously closed due to the pandemic.
As a direct response to this, we have set-up the Covid-19 525 Bursary Fund which is open for applications.
2020 marks the University of Aberdeen's 525th anniversary, one of the most challenging in the University's history. But we want to make our 525th anniversary a positive one by coming together to support students affected by the recent pandemic.
We will continue to be responsive to further developments and will seek to ensure maximum flexibility in our provision to accommodate the circumstances of all our staff and students.
- What is the likelihood of the university reopening in September? Will international students be expected to pay full fees for the new term if the teaching is carried out online.
At the current time, it is uncertain whether new and returning students, both from within the UK and internationally, will be able to be on campus in September for the commencement of the academic year.
We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic is new and unpredictable, and we are working to develop additional flexibility in our teaching and learning delivery patterns to have online delivery options should students not be able to return to campus in the autumn. We will be responsive to further developments and will seek to ensure maximum flexibility in our provision to accommodate the circumstances of our all our staff and students.
We will keep all students updated on any further changes, if they become necessary, as quickly and fully as we can. In the meantime, please continue to check our coronavirus webpages for updates as the situation evolves.
- Will any action be taken by the University to reduce or refund fees?
Since the closure of the University campus on 23 March 2020, the University has remained committed to encouraging and supporting students to continue with their studies and to complete their best work.
Teaching and tuition across all levels of study has transitioned to online delivery and/or delivery by alternative means. The University therefore has no plans to refund tuition fees to students
Although some academic and some administrative staff chose to take strike action earlier in the year, the University remained open and many staff were at work as usual.
Staff at the University are committed to providing an excellent educational experience for our students and measures to ensure that the impact of the action was minimised were put in place.