The University of Cambridge has canceled all face-to-face lectures for the 2020-21 academic year, the university announced in a statement on Tuesday, May 19.
The university stated that although lectures would remain virtual until summer 2021, smaller teaching groups may be able to take place in person if they “conform to social distancing requirements”.
A statement from the university on Tuesday night said: “Given that it is likely that social distancing will continue to be required, the university has decided there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year. Lectures will continue to be made available online”.
All teaching at the University of Cambridge was moved online in March and exams are now being held virtually.
“This decision has been taken now to facilitate planning, but as ever, will be reviewed should there be changes to official advice on coronavirus,” said a University of Cambridge spokesperson.
Realistic expectations of the future
In his latest update on May 14, the University of Cambridge’s vice chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope, stressed that although the university would be open, it was important to face the reality of the situation.
He wrote: “I want to assure students that Cambridge will be open for education and research for the start of the next academic year. We must all be realistic, however, about the worldwide challenges posed by the pandemic.
“However teaching is delivered, we will do all we can to ensure that the University continues to provide students with the highest quality education and offers the best possible experience during their time in Cambridge.”
It follows the University of Manchester, which sent an email to students on May 7, announcing that students will be taught online until the beginning of November at the earliest.
Being honest with potential students
The University of Cambridge’s decision comes after the UK’s chief executive of the Office for Students, Nicola Dandridge, announced on Tuesday morning that universities should be honest with students about how they will be taught.
Dandridge said students should ideally be told this by June 18, the UCAS deadline for accepting firm and insurance plans, and “certainly before” A-level results on August 13.
Students should also be allowed to “change their minds” if universities had to change what was on offer after new students had accepted their place, said Dandridge.
In the UK, universities can continue charging students the full £9,250 a year, even if students are taught completely online, despite 75 percent of students expecting lower tuition fees.