97% of institutions will provide some in-person teaching to students at the start of term this year, a Universities UK (UUK) poll of 92 universities has revealed.
The survey also found that 87% are actually planning to provide in-person sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities in the autumn, reports The Guardian.
Vice-president for education at the University of Sheffield, Professor Wyn Morgan, urged students who are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their university experience to still take up places this year as the deadline to make a final decision on offers approaches.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Prof Morgan said students could actually have more of a chance of gaining a place at one of the leading universities in the 2020/21 academic year due to a ‘demographic dip’ resulting in fewer 18-year-olds.
However, Prof Morgan did emphasise that students would have a ‘different’ experience, especially during welcome weeks this autumn as many clubs, societies and events move online.
In line with the current government guidance, the University of Sheffield will supplement face-to-face teaching with increased online learning, and students will be placed into ‘social bubbles’ within their residences.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) has predicted that tens of thousands fewer students could start university this year.
The worst-case scenario would see 46,000 fewer domestic students starting courses this autumn compared with last year, according to an article published by Ucas.
A separate survey conducted by the British Council, found that nearly 14,000 fewer students from east Asia are likely to come to the UK in 2020/21 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
This would add up to an estimated 12% fall in overall international student numbers, resulting in a £460m loss to UK universities that could take as long as four years for the sector to recover from.
Chief executive of UUK, Alistair Jarvis, said: “Although their first term will be different from previous years, most students can expect significant in-person teaching and a wide range of social activities and support services.
“Universities are committed to providing an engaging academic and social experience for all while ensuring the safety and welfare of the whole university community.”
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