Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 17 June 2020 - Undergraduate

Covid-19 Update Message to Continuing Undergraduate students - 17 June 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with continuing Undergraduate students.

Dear Students,

As promised, in this week’s message I provide more information about our plans for your return to campus and also:

  • Information on the module choice process
  • Registration information
  • Arrangements for UK 9-12 month work placements
  • An update from the Careers Service
  • A reminder to complete the student survey on online learning.

I’m sorry it’s so long, but there’s a lot to share with you this week.

University experience during 2020-21

As you know, we are working hard to prepare for your return to campus in the autumn term. As mentioned in my message on 28 May we are planning for continuing students to arrive on campus on a phased basis from 5 October 2020, with teaching starting for all students on 19 October 2020. 

Below I provide further information on arrival arrangements, what you can expect the campus to look like, and how teaching will be delivered on your return.

Phased arrival dates: In recognition of our commitment to protect the health and safety of students and staff, arrival dates on campus will be phased by stage and level as follows:

 

New students:

  • 28 September 2020 – New Stage 1 students
  • 5 October 2020 – New Postgraduate Taught students and new Research Masters Students

Continuing/returning students:

  • 5 October 2020 – Undergraduate and Integrated Masters finalists
  • 12 October 2020 – Other returning Undergraduate, Integrated Masters, Postgraduate Taught and Research Masters students

Please note: Students with programmes which rely on access to third party provision including Medicine, Dentistry, Speech and Language Sciences and PG Education may have induction and programme teaching start dates which are different to those given above and their respective Schools will provide more information on these dates in due course.

Induction for returning students: In order to help all our students settle in to the new ways of working and interacting online and on campus, we are developing an induction programme for you. Online materials will be available for returning students from 28 September 2020, and this will be followed by an induction period which will include online opportunities and, where possible, present-in-person activities on campus.

The physical campus: Our priority is to make sure you’re safe on campus, so we’ve put in place targeted cleaning measures across all our facilities, computer clusters and catering outlets. Screens and barriers will be installed where required to support physical distancing, wipes and hand sanitiser will be available at various locations across campus. We will have an early warning system to detect potential Covid-19 outbreaks in the University community. And we’ll be providing all our students with a safety pack on arrival which will include a washable, reusable face covering, a thermometer and hand sanitiser.

We’re also introducing a one-way system on campus and in our buildings and, for the first few weeks of term, volunteers will be on hand to answer any queries you might have about moving around campus safely.

Thorough cleaning, safety and physical distancing measures have been introduced across all our catering outlets, while the NUSU Co-op will continue to offer deliveries via Deliveroo.

Sport Facilities: We plan to open our indoor and outdoor sports facilities as soon as it’s safe to do so and will be following government and sports’ National Governing Body (NGB) guidance when we make our sports provision available.

Flexible Teaching: We want you to get the most out of your teaching and learning and will do everything we can to support you to do so. Your teaching will be a mixture of online and in-person, on-campus teaching. In semester one, as a result of physical distancing requirements, all lecture materials will be delivered online along with many tutorials, workshops and labs. Our plan is to deliver some labs, seminars and tutorial teaching in-person on-campus where it is possible and safe to do so. We’ll review this at key points in the semester, and plan to return to full in-person, on-campus teaching in semester two, subject to any restrictions. 

International students: If you have returned to your home country, we hope you’ll be able to join us in Newcastle as early as possible in the academic year and by the start of semester two at the latest. If you can’t join us straight away, don’t worry – no matter where you are in the country or the world, we’ll support you to access appropriate learning opportunities. Teaching materials will be offered online during semester one for most of our courses. We will offer a support package and buddy scheme for international students required to quarantine on arrival in the UK.

Our Libraries: Although our library buildings are closed in line with government guidance, we’re planning a phased re-opening starting in early July so we’re ready to welcome you. We’re making sure our buildings comply with Covid-19 physical safety measures and are making it easier for you to access resources online – including increasing our already extensive e-resources and working with academic colleagues to source e-versions of key reading list materials. Our click and collect, click and post, and contactless returns services will make accessing the resources you need for your studies easy and safe.

Access to IT: As you know, we’ve made over 3,000 spaces available in our virtual cluster so you can use your own laptop to access the software you need for your studies. And if you don’t have a laptop of your own, you may be eligible to borrow one of ours for a whole semester through our long-term laptop loan scheme. Further information about the loan scheme will be circulated in advance of the autumn term. Computer clusters will also be available across campus with physical distancing and thorough cleaning measures in place.

Module choice

As you will be aware the module choice process for continuing students was paused earlier in the year and has not yet taken place. This was to allow the University to plan the changes to our timetables for 2020-21 to incorporate a combination of online teaching with some in-person on-campus teaching each week. Although this planning work is ongoing, we can confirm that continuing students will be invited to submit their module choices via S3P between Monday 27 July and Sunday 3 August. If all of your modules are compulsory, these will be booked automatically on your record.

The exact date on which you will be able to access S3P to submit your choices will depend on your degree programme and we will write to you nearer the time to confirm the exact schedule for that week. Your academic unit will also be in touch with you to confirm the specific arrangements for your programme, including details of the modules that are available for you to choose.

Registration

As mentioned above, we are planning for continuing students to return to campus on a phased basis from 5 October 2020. All continuing students will be asked to register online via S3P before they restart their programme. The dates on which you can access S3P to register for 2020-21 are as follows:

  • From 19 August onwards – students on some programmes in the Faculty of Medical Sciences
  • From 31 August onwards – all students registering on the final year of Undergraduate and Integrated Masters programmes
  • From 7 September onwards – all other continuing students on taught programmes

The online registration process will remain unchanged. When you log into S3P you will be asked to complete a number of steps that are listed on the registration status screen to complete your registration.

For those students who are in receipt of a student loan there will no longer be a requirement to swipe your smartcard on campus to confirm your attendance. As long as you have been notified by Student Finance that your loan for 2020-21 has been approved and you complete your online registration via S3P before you restart your programme, we will confirm your attendance to the Student Loan Company and they will release your loan, usually within 3 working days.

We will write to you to remind you about the registration process nearer the time.

UK 9-12 Month Work Placements

I am pleased to be able to inform you that if you are planning to do a 9-12 month work placement in 2020-21, as an intercalating year of your degree, many of you will be able to do so, as long as your placement is in the UK and is approved by the University. We are working with our academic schools to identify where these placements can be supported and you will hear from us in due course.

In the current climate we will be as flexible as possible in allowing you to complete your intercalating placement, whilst putting your health, safety, and wellbeing first.

Please make sure that if you have a placement offer for 2020-21, and haven’t already done so, you contact your Placement Team so that they are aware of this. All placements will be the subject of enhanced risk assessment and sign off processes.

Similarly, if you have a placement offer for 2020/21 and are now concerned about doing this, please talk with your Placement Team.

For more information about placement arrangements for the coming year please refer to our FAQs.

Forthcoming Careers Service event

Colleagues in the Careers Service have asked me to let you know about the following forthcoming event:

  • Our Region, Your Future: the world is full of opportunities, but do you know about them all? Sign up today for the North East Ambition programme (#NorthEastAmbition) taking place in June and July 2020 - to make an impact and leave your mark on the region you study in.

Student survey reminder

Finally, I’d like to remind you of the survey being conducted by Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU), the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team and Inclusive Newcastle to help us to understand the impact of the University’s move to remote delivery and to enhance your future online learning experience. We would very much value your participation in this survey which should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

As mentioned in my last message, we will be sending fortnightly messages throughout the vacation period. Pease look out for my next email which will be sent in the week commencing 29 June. 

With thanks and best wishes,

Lucy

Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar