University of Kent to deliver 'mix of online and in-person' contact next year

Image courtesy of: Tahmid Morshed

By Nathan Day

The University of Kent is moving to a mix of online and in-person contact for the next academic year starting in September, according to a University spokesperson.

The university already switched to online only lectures via Zoom and Microsoft Teams on 23rd March this year, the same date Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

It is understood the university will adopt similar measures for at least the first semester, along with socially distanced in-person encounters.

Speaking to KentOnline, the spokesperson for the University of Kent said that student and staff wellbeing will also be at the forefront of planning for the new year.

However, the University have not confirmed which learning will be online or in person.

This comes after the University of Cambridge announced earlier this week that there will be no face-to-face lectures until Summer 2021 due to Coronavirus.

Masters Multimedia Journalism students at the Centre for Journalism at the university’s Medway campus have over 25 hours contact time per week, and the first semester is especially important in learning technical equipment and software.

Current MA journalism student, Callum Gurr, said it’s not possible to have purely online seminars.

Mr Gurr said: “Zoom seems to always have audio or connection issues, and you cannot replace long-term face to face teaching with online classes.”

“I'd advise anyone who is joining next year to defer their entry, especially if they're undergrads.

“I don't see how it's possible to teach someone how to properly use the equipment remotely.

“Something like setting up a camera is something which is already practically difficult to teach, but with the constrains of online teaching I'd say it's impossible,” said Callum.

Other courses such as those for the sciences have in excess of 20 hours a week.

Former UKC chemistry student Oliver Budd is uncertain of the outcome of webinars, he said: “An important part of my degree was practical work that could not be learnt online, however a mix of both [online and face-to-face] could be helpful because it enabled me to work on assignments at home while allowing me to continue attending lectures.”

But Mr Budd does not think it will greatly affect student numbers, “the result of gaining a degree far outweigh the negatives of inadequate contact time.”

Many courses already have low contact hours; as low as three per week for some students, putting into question the need for students to pay for university accommodation and other expenses such as food.

A spokesperson for Kent Union said: “Kent Union is currently in conversations with the University to clarify what face to face teaching may be able to take place, what it may look like, and how to ensure online delivery is of the highest quality.”

“We are consulting with students about the next academic year, and we encourage as many students as possible to share their views.”

Kent Union’s survey to students can be found here:

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