COVID-19 update

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Autumn semester plans 2021

Dear Student

With the examination period now over, I want to commend you on how well you adapted to online lectures and assessments, while facing the additional changes and challenges presented by COVID-19. Well done and many thanks – your engagement and resilience during the past year, and the commitment of our staff, have been inspiring.

New semester

Thanks to robust health and safety measures, as well as the extremely successful vaccination programme, COVID-19 rates are now much lower in Scotland and the UK, and the number of people falling ill with the virus has dropped significantly. Therefore, as lockdown restrictions continue to be progressively eased in Scotland, we are making positive plans for a return to the Stirling campus for our students and staff for the new academic year 2021/22.  

I want to give you an overview of our planning so far, as I know this information is important as you make arrangements for the year ahead.

Teaching arrangements in 2021/22

Subject to the coronavirus remaining under control, the expectation is that most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted by this July in Scotland allowing life for all of us to open up once again. The Scottish Government has expressed its hope that, in turn, university and college students will be able to enjoy a much more normal learning and teaching experience from this autumn. 

This is a welcome signal to the higher education sector and, on this basis, we are planning to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can from September 2021. We will also deliver some blended teaching across the semester. This is to ensure that, as we emerge from the pandemic, we continue to keep you and our staff safe; and it’s also in direct response to your feedback. Many students and staff have told us that there are elements of online teaching and learning that are excellent, have worked better than face-to-face and should continue.

Therefore, on the assumption that coronavirus remains under control – enabling the Government’s route map out of the pandemic to remain on schedule — our intended approach to autumn teaching is to leverage the best elements of face-to-face and online teaching and combine these providing tailored in-person learning opportunities and community-building experiences. This approach will:

  • offer regular in-person learning opportunities for all students
  • offer in-person smaller group teaching sessions, in safe and appropriate spaces on campus
  • offer practical skills sessions or laboratory work in relevant subjects (as advised by your faculty)  
  • deliver large lectures (for 50 people or more) live online or pre-recorded – and available to watch again. Smaller lectures will be a mixture of online and in-person and also available to watch again.
  • deliver online assessments, including examinations, as the standard form of assessment—noting that there may have to be adjustments to this for professional subjects.
  • schedule all live teaching sessions, so that you are clear about your timetable
  • allow field work, where possible, subject to relevant risk assessments

Our autumn semester for undergraduates runs from Monday 13 September 2021 – Monday 20 December 2021 and for postgraduates from Monday 27 September to Friday 17 December . Key dates, including the examination period, are available online.

Remote learning in 2021/22 – international and vulnerable students

At this point in time, the UK Government has indicated that international full-time students will not be able to continue learning from their home country remotely and that they will be required to be present at their university, in person, for the beginning of the new semester in September. International students must follow UK Home Office visa regulations and with this in mind, it is important that all students start to think about their travel and accommodation arrangements –including whether quarantining is required once you arrive in Stirling (see section below).

You can book your University accommodation by completing an application available via the accommodation dashboard on your student portal, or if you have any questions you can email accommodation@stir.ac.uk     

If you are in a vulnerable group and have concerns about coming to campus, or restrictions in your home country currently don’t allow you to travel, please let us know as soon as possible. Please contact your faculty so that we can understand your circumstances and discuss options.  For any concerns or questions about your visa status please email: internationaladvisor@stir.ac.uk  

Travel to Stirling from overseas: red and amber-listed countries

The UK and Scottish Governments have recently introduced a traffic light system for international travel, with arrivals only from those countries which are the most severely affected by COVID-19 – those on the red list – requiring government-managed quarantine. Currently people arriving from amber listed countries still have to quarantine, but this can take place in your own home or in other private accommodation. If you are arriving from an amber listed country and require University accommodation email accommodation@stir.ac.uk. Please see details below for how we might be able to assist you with your quarantine for red list countries.

Possible University-managed quarantine

‘Managed quarantine’ for everyone travelling to the UK from red list countries has up until now been handled by the government at special airport hotels. Currently, anyone travelling to Scotland from a red list country must ensure they have made appropriate arrangements, before leaving their home country, to stay in a managed quarantine hotel on arrival, if that is a requirement of their entry into the UK.

Please note, however, that we are currently working closely with the Scottish Government to explore the possibility of the University of Stirling being authorised to host students from red listed countries in our own University accommodation as part of the managed quarantine scheme. This means that on arrival into Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, students would be transported directly to Stirling rather than having to go to a government-managed hotel and you would be fully supported by University staff in our accommodation during your 10-day (11 nights) quarantine period.  

We hope this new scheme will be approved in the next couple of weeks and we will share more information as soon as possible, including costs. We expect that the costs will be substantially less than those charged at the government managed quarantine hotels. If you are an international student travelling from a red listed country and are interested in being supported in University-managed accommodation for your quarantine period, please complete this form as soon as possible.

All international students should keep up-to-date with the latest guidance around travel to and from the UK. As the global situation remains dynamic, requirements and information can change at short notice. Please see the Scottish Government website for further information, alongside the UK Government website if you plan to travel to Scotland via another part of the UK.

Safe campus and plans for return

As you may be aware, those aged 18 to 29 are currently being invited to register for their Coronavirus vaccine. The registration service is available now until 4 June 2021.

You are eligible to register for a vaccination online if all the following apply:

  • you are 18 to 29 years old (as of 17 May 2021)
  • you are registered with a GP surgery in Scotland
  • you’ve not already had your first COVID-19 vaccination for medical reasons, as an unpaid carer, or as a frontline health or social care worker.

Find out more and register for a Coronavirus vaccine visit the NHS Inform website.

Our priority remains keeping you safe and providing you with an enjoyable experience at Stirling. We will continue to follow NHS Scotland and Scottish Government advice on COVID-19 and keep you updated if there are any significant changes ahead of the autumn semester.

We have a range of events planned for both new and returning students and look forward to sharing our plans with you in the coming months. With so many new developments for you on campus -from our fantastic sports centre to the refitted, new-look Atrium - we will be offering supported inductions on campus to ensure a sociable and safe start to the year.

Please keep safe and continue to follow government guidance.

We look forward to seeing you back on campus soon.

Best wishes  

Professor Leigh Sparks 

Deputy Principal (Education and Students)

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