Zarah Sultana
Image: The Boar / Jasmine Parker

Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana calls for Warwick and Coventry Universities to move Term 1 fully online

Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, has written a letter supporting the demands of the Warwick and Coventry branches of the University and College Union (UCU) for Term 1 to be entirely online.

In the letter addressed to the vice-chancellors of Warwick and Coventry Universities, Ms Sultana called for “all teaching to be moved online except in very limited circumstances”.

The MP for Coventry South continued: “The mounting evidence shows that further measures are necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of students, staff and the wider community.”

The letter also outlined the differences between the special measures brought in by Warwick and Coventry Universities, including masks only being compulsory at Warwick University and a lack of testing facilities at Coventry University.

The Warwick branch of the UCU originally called for the University to move Term 1 online on 19 August.

The government has released specific advice for universities after the announcement of tightening restrictions across England. A four-tier system was outlined with each successive tier to be adopted if case numbers rise in the local area.

The mounting evidence shows that further measures are necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of students, staff and the wider community

– Zarah Sultana

The first tier, which includes the blended learning approach adopted by Warwick University, is the current tier of restrictions that universities are required to adopt. The adoption of near total online teaching is listed under tier three of the university guidelines.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, said: “We urge Coventry and Warwick Universities to listen to their local MP and abandon needless plans to force staff and students back onto campus.”

A spokesperson for the University of Warwick commented on the letter: “We will be offering a blend of face-to-face and online learning. In term one lectures will take place online. This means any session with a class size above 25 will be delivered digitally.

“We are also drawing on the advice of Warwick researchers who work with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). We have also established our own track and trace service for any students or staff that think they have Covid-19 symptoms.”

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