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Officer update - On reopening campus

Published on 11th September 2020 at 17:24.

We want to clarify that the University is still planning to go ahead with a blended learning approach.

The Students’ Union is independent from the University. Part of our role is to scrutinise the University’s plans and ensure they are prioritising student safety and welfare. Our statement outlined that we don’t feel University senior management are doing this.

We’re sorry if our statement caused anxiety. We know that it can be hard when you’re making big decisions about accommodation, travel and course fees, to hear that there may be uncertainty over what will happen next term. We know many students will be returning, and we want to make sure they have the things they need. We think that a narrow focus on in-person teaching ignores other important aspects of student life.

We cannot, in good conscience, ignore the recommendations made by major scientific bodies which have advised against doing more than the absolute minimum in-person teaching, due to the significant risk it presents for another outbreak of Covid, which could easily lead to a local lockdown (e.g. Leicester). However, we feel that senior management aren’t being clear about this or how it will impact learning, so we also released the open letter from teaching and professional services staff, who are the ones who will be delivering this teaching. Neither USSU nor these staff hold any decision-making power over the reopening of campus, however. This lies with University senior management.

Rather than risk everything in order to provide limited in-person teaching, we think the University should focus on pursuing excellent online teaching (except where it’s not possible), and supporting students to access this, wherever they are. We know lots of students will be concerned about accommodation contracts, and others will need to come to Brighton and should be supported in accessing study spaces and social activities. If there’s a second lockdown, we will need to have these conversations. 

USSU will be meeting with senior University management, as your representatives, on Wednesday afternoon. We want to take your concerns to them. We will be holding a livestream to discuss this with you more next week.