‘A weird time’: students tell of a future snatched away | Education

It might seem like a holiday for some, but the school closures, cancelled exams and university shutdowns are wreaking havoc with many students’ lives. Sixth formers have lost the chance to improve their grades through last-minute revision, and university students have been left hanging, unable to sit their final exams, say goodbye to friends, or invite their families to graduation ceremonies. Students from different stages in their education tell how their plans for the future are being shaped by the…

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The government must protect universities in this crisis or job cuts will follow | Jo Grady | Education

Colleges and universities deliver vital opportunities and drive economic growth. Yet the current coronavirus crisis is now creating huge financial uncertainty in post-16 education. As the general secretary of the University and College Union, I have today written to the government setting out a plan that will protect universities and colleges so they can play their full role in the recovery of our society and economy once the virus is defeated. Most importantly, the government must make a firm commitment…

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Lecturers went on strike over insecure jobs – now we fear coronavirus cuts | Charlotte Morris | Education

It’s no secret that around half of university teaching staff are on temporary contracts. While they feel anxious and insecure at the best of times, they are now doubly so due to the threat coronavirus poses to their future careers. This has been compounded by reports about academic job losses in Australia and hiring freezes in US universities. Now, with the news in the UK that the University of Sussex is reviewing temporary contracts across the institution and Bristol and…

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Hundreds of university staff to be made redundant due to coronavirus | Education

Hundreds of university staff on precarious contracts have been dismissed by their employers in a drive to cut costs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Staff on fixed-term contracts, including visiting lecturers, researchers and student support workers, at Bristol, Newcastle and Sussex universities have been made redundant or told their employment will or may end prematurely, or not be renewed. The job losses come as universities face a black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds in tuition fees from the…

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Krystyna Gaffney obituary | Education

My aunt, Krystyna Gaffney, who has died of a brain aneurysm aged 64, worked in the examinations department at Newcastle University for 25 years. She was born in Aberystwyth to Janina (nee Borowska) and Kazimierz Clapinski, Polish immigrants who had relocated to rural west Wales after the second world war. Krys and her siblings ran wild across the fields surrounding their father’s farm, catching minnows in jam jars, picking marsh marigolds and helping the corgis round up the cows. She…

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Covid-19 is our best chance to change universities for good I Steven Jones | Education

March is normally one of the busiest months in the academic calendar. Lecture theatres bulge, coffee queues lengthen and library shelves empty. The interactions are multilingual and non-stop. This year, silence. Buildings are in lockdown and staff barred from their offices. Those students who remain are mostly unable to go home. But learning goes on, displaced, not discontinued. In many respects, Covid-19 is drawing out the best from staff, their commitment to students’ education and wellbeing shining through the uncertainty.…

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UK students’ union calls on universities to cancel summer exams | Education

The National Union of Students has called on universities to cancel or postpone this summer’s exams to avoid further stress and disruption to students’ lives during the coronavirus pandemic. The NUS said disabled, international and poorer students would be significantly disadvantaged if universities go through with plans to hold online exams and assessments next term. It said final-year students should be given a choice of how to complete their degrees, such as receiving an estimated grade based on prior attainment,…

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Concern for A-level students over cap on university admissions | Education

School leaders are urging the government to ensure A-level students who have had their exams cancelled this summer because of the Covid-19 crisis do not face further disadvantage by losing university places because of a cap on student numbers. The warning came after the Guardian revealed that strict limits on the number of students each university in England can recruit are likely to be imposed by the government to create more stability and avoid an admissions free-for-all as the sector…

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Students try to flee UK by chartered plane for ‘safer’ China | Education

A group of Chinese students who tried to charter a plane home are among thousands attempting to leave the UK because they believe they will be safer in China, universities say. With many international students left behind on deserted campuses – now mostly running a skeleton service – academics have been pitching in to call students and reassure them they aren’t alone. But universities report that Chinese students, who make up a third of non-European international students in the UK,…

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‘Is this all a dream?’: my cramped week self-isolating in student halls | Education

TuesdayBoth my fiancee and I are marketing postgraduate students. We live in halls but study at different universities. She lives in London, and I live in Surrey. I am a care leaver while she is an international student from Wuhan, China. My day begins at 4am, when I lie awake in my girlfriend’s flat. We have been here for three weeks self-isolating. The room is cramped; I am on an airbed next to her single bed (she has a back…

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Postgraduate students urge funders to extend grants over coronavirus | Education

PhD and master’s students have signed an open letter asking to be given extensions to their funding by research councils so they can finish work disrupted by the coronavirus. The letter, which has more than 1,000 signatories across UK universities, asks for research councils to urgently publish a plan outlining additional financial support for all postgraduate students. Many postgraduate students are currently unable to continue their research projects and theses because fieldwork has been halted and university labs and libraries…

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How to study at home during coronavirus – by online students and tutors | Education

For Dafydd Evans, 21, who studies media production at De Montfort University, online teaching has got off to a good start. “I didn’t think the new systems would cope, but they have,” he says. “We have contact with academics as normal and I really don’t think there’s much I’m missing out on.” Others, however, say it’s been an uphill struggle. “The sites are crashing and lecturers are struggling to turn face-to-face interactions into online discussions,” says Isabel Thomas (not her…

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Hundreds of thousands of UK students call for tuition fee refunds | Education

Hundreds of thousands of students whose lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic have signed a petition calling for tuition fee refunds. Many students are also facing demands from landlords on many UK campuses for ongoing rent on their vacated rooms. An online petition to parliament for reimbursement of this year’s fees, posted this week by a geography undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, had gathered nearly 250,000 signatures by Wednesday evening. In the past two weeks British universities…

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‘It’s a nightmare’: how coronavirus is wreaking havoc on students’ exams | Education

Universities across the UK have closed down class teaching and are running online seminars and tutorials because of the coronavirus pandemic. The race is on to decide how to handle the summer exams so final-year students can complete their degrees. But there are fears that disadvantaged students could suffer the most through the rapid shift to online learning. Many universities will replace traditional exams with online assessments, as Oxford and Cambridge announced last week. At Imperial College London, medical students…

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Students criticise Royal College of Art’s plan to hold degree show online | Education

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is facing a backlash from thousands of students and artists over their decision to make their degree shows online-only for the first time ever due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 4,500 people, including Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey, have signed a petition calling on the RCA to suspend its programmes and postpone the exhibition until it is safe to return to the college. The students behind the petition, who wish to remain anonymous,…

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Universities having to adapt fast to the coronavirus crisis | Education

UK universities are racing to ensure that the coronavirus does not prevent final-year students from completing their degrees. But experts say a sudden shift to online learning is a “huge challenge” for both institutions and students. All universities have been treating the coronavirus as a major emergency for some weeks. Last week the London School of Economics, University College London, Durham University, Manchester Metropolitan and Loughborough became the first to close down class teaching and move online. Oxford University’s term…

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