1. There have been some changes on campus, to help keep us all safe
You can be reassured that with many of our academics undertaking world-leading research on public health, our pandemic response protocols are founded on the latest science and expertise.
When you first get to campus, you’ll notice that we have made some changes to help keep us all safe. For example, our buildings will have clearly marked entry and exit points; we’ll be asking you to sanitise or clean your hands immediately on entry; and you’ll see markings on floors, stairwells and doors to help you maintain social distancing. You’ll also receive two free washable face coverings at the start of semester, as well as detailed safety guidance.
2. We’re doing as much teaching face to face as is safe
We’re really looking forward to having you back with us on campus. So that can be possible, we’re making changes to the way we deliver teaching.
All lectures will be delivered online, allowing you to work at your own pace, where and when it suits you. This gives us the extra space we need to deliver many of our seminars, tutorials, practicals and lab work on campus, face to face, to small, socially distanced groups.
We’ll revisit these arrangements at the end of Semester 1, to see if more face to face teaching can be introduced.
3. We’ve got you covered if you can’t come to campus
We know that for reasons beyond your control, it might not be possible for you to be on campus at the start of year, or at certain times throughout Semester 1, for example due to travel restrictions from your home country, if you are immunocompromised or live with someone who is shielding, or if you are self-isolating.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, you’ll be able to access small group teaching online (as well as lectures) so you won’t be disadvantaged. Whichever way you study, face to face or online, you’ll be taught by the same excellent Professors, Lecturers and Researchers.
4. You won’t be taught in the same way as Semester 2 this year
In March we had to act quickly in response to the pandemic, shutting down non-essential services on campus and moving all teaching and learning activity online.
Things won’t be like that next year.
We’re re-opening the campus and moving towards a hybrid teaching model, typically with lectures online and small group and practical teaching face to face. The University and the Student Union have been collecting students’ views about what went well last semester, and what needs work – and we’re learning and updating all the time. Importantly, our world leading Professors, Lecturers and Researchers have been busy planning and adapting their teaching to this new model.
5. Most January assessments will be online
We don’t know what Government guidelines will be in January 2021, but we do know that under current guidelines, it wouldn’t be possible for all assessments to take place face to face. So we’ve taken the decision now to do most January 2021 assessments online, even if restrictions are relaxed by then.
There will be a small number of exams and practical assessments that still need to be on campus, if you need to demonstrate a specific skill as part of a professional accreditation. We’ll let you know if one of your course units falls into this category.
We’re also listening to your feedback about assessment to consider what changes we might make longer term, for example by using more online methods where this has proved popular and makes sense, academically. We want our assessments to be more inclusive – and ideally to give you greater choice.
6. Coming back might feel strange – and that’s totally normal
These past few months have been really tough, not least for our mental health, and it’s going to take some time to figure out what the ‘new normal’ means. Whilst coming back is welcome and exciting for lots of us, we know that there will be an element of nervousness for some.
All our support services are open as usual and are now accessible remotely. You can find them all at studentsupport.manchester.ac.uk along with lots of online wellbeing resources to help you adjust to the ‘new normal’.
7. You’ll have access to better technology
We’ve sped up our IT Modernisation Programme to give you access to the right tools for learning in a digital world. This summer we’re rolling out Microsoft Teams to all staff and students, to make it easier than ever to communicate and collaborate. We’re also introducing a new version of Blackboard, and tools for you to live chat with staff, rather than waiting for email responses.
Longer term, we’ve committed to a multimillion pound investment in our technology through the Student Experience Programme, which will significantly upgrade My Manchester so you can do more things online, and change our back office systems so you get responses more quickly.
8. It won’t be all work and no play
Whatever your interests are outside of classes, there will be a club or society that’s looking forward to welcoming you wherever you are in the world – on campus or at home. What’s more, Manchester’s thriving nightlife is beginning to get back to a ‘new normal’, with bars and restaurants across the city centre, Fallowfield and Withington beginning to re-open, including those on campus, in Halls, and in the Students’ Union. And fitness fanatics will be pleased to know that our sports centres will be reopened in September, ready for your return.
You can find out all about these opportunities during our Welcome Back week – which is new for returning students this year.
9. You need to consider the best way to travel to and from campus
It’s unlikely we’ll be seeing packed Magic Buses or Stagecoaches going up and down Oxford Road any time soon, as public transport operators have implemented social distancing measures. This will have an impact on capacity, so you’ll need to think about the best way for you to get to campus, walking or cycling where possible.
If you do need to take public transport, consider leaving earlier to make sure you get there on time, and check out transport providers’ apps – the new Stagecoach/Magic Bus app shows you the live location of buses, as well as how busy they are.
10. It’s not too late to find somewhere to live
We still have places remaining in University Halls of Residence – and we’ve made our contracts more flexible than ever. Increasing numbers of returning students now opt to stay in a University hall, and you can find out more here.
If you would prefer non-University accommodation, Manchester Student Homes, a department of the University that works with private accommodation providers in and around Manchester, can help with your property search, and point you in the direction of contracts with a Coronavirus Amendment Policy.