- Lectures will continue to be held online and small group teaching may happen, if it follows coronavirus social-distancing guidelines
- The announcement comes during an argument over whether schools in the UK should reopen
The University of Cambridge will have no face-to-face lectures until summer 2021, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.
It is the first British university to firm up its plans for the coming academic year, which will start in September.
“We first found out through reading the news,” says Belinda Ng, 20, a second year student at the university. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty among students right now about how the specifics of the arrangements will work and we have not received news directly from the university.”
“Given that it is likely that social distancing will continue to be required, the university has decided there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year,” the university said in a statement on Tuesday.
Lectures would continue to be available online, and smaller teaching groups could also take place in person, the university said, but only as long as they conform to social-distancing requirements.
“I think online lectures will not be too disruptive to my learning,” says Belinda. “Nonetheless, it's disappointing because I have had some very memorable lectures so far at university that have been particularly engaging; this dynamic will be lost if lectures go online.”
The university moved all teaching online in March. Exams will also be carried out virtually.
The decision by Cambridge comes as an argument has escalated in Britain about whether or not it is safe for students to return to school.
Government ministers plan to partially reopen English primary schools from June 1, but this is being challenged by some unions and local councils over safety concerns.
Britain has the highest death toll in Europe and the second-worst in the world behind the United States.
“There's still a part of me hoping that this policy might ease or change after a while,” says Belinda.