80 institutions
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Over 80 UK higher education institutions are reporting cases of Covid-19

This past week has seen a significant rise in reported cases of Covid-19 across UK universities. With a number of institutions revising their websites daily to provide up-to-date statistics, it is apparent that some universities have been hit notably harder than others.

Following the arrival of students to university campuses across the UK to begin the new academic year, at least 5,000 cases of the virus have been reported across 80 institutions.

Since 21 September, more than 1,000 students have tested positive for the virus at the University of Manchester, the UK’s third largest university.

As a result, Manchester has joined other institutions such as the University of Sheffield and the Manchester Metropolitan University in transferring all of their courses online until at least the 30 October, meaning that students will no longer attend in-person seminars, or society events.

The University of Sheffield also made the decision to temporarily move all their teaching online- with the exception of clinical teaching- following almost 500 cases of Covid-19 being reported amongst staff and students.

Face-to-face teaching is planned to resume on the 19 October, however, a review process will occur before the decision to bring students back into the classroom is finalised.

At least 5,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported across 80 institutions

A spokesperson from the University of Sheffield said: “We recognise how difficult it is for students who are new to Sheffield and need to self-isolate because of Covid-19 cases.

“To make sure we are supporting students in the best way possible, we will contact all students who are self-isolating to check on their welfare and offer practical and emotional support.”

At least 5,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported across 80 institutions
Similar reported figures can be found at the University of Nottingham, with 425 active student cases confirmed as of 2 October. This follows the incident of a Nottingham student being fined £10,000 for hosting a house party for approximately 50 people.

However, the university claims that their figures are “higher than other universities” due to their asymptomatic testing programme.

The University of Glasgow, the largest university in Scotland by student population, has seen the highest number of Covid-19 cases of any Scottish university, at 172, with 600 students self-isolating. The University of Exeter has recently sent a number of students home from campus due to breaches of regulation that have included the hosting of illegal parties.

However, the university has confirmed that students would only be suspended for serious breaches of conduct or repeatedly flouting regulations.

In spite of rising cases, a number of universities continue to offer blended learning which consists of a mixture of face-to-face and online classes. This method is currently being implemented by universities including Warwick, Aberdeen, Leicester, and Southampton.

The University of Warwick has justified the use of blended learning within a statement on their official website: “Our blended approach will combine on-campus and online teaching in a way that maintains elements of a traditional Warwick experience with the need to socially distance and reduce the number of people travelling to and around campus at any one time.”

In addition to this, all forms of academic assessment will be conducted online, with the university stating that exceptions will be made in instances where “the practical nature of the assessment or the requirement of the regulatory bodies require this.”

Although these are the University’s current plans, they have confirmed that changes to government guidelines and a change in the virus’ impact on the university could result in immediate changes, with the possibility of all provision being delivered online should concerns for student health and wellbeing increase.

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