Our approach to teaching in 2022/23
Email from Professor Jeff Grabill, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, to all staff on Friday 18 February 2022.
With the Government now talking about ‘living with COVID’ and ‘moving from pandemic to endemic’ it’s clear that our students will be expecting to see a change in how we manage their education, including a substantive campus experience.
The Government has stated that ‘no COVID restrictions apply to Higher Education and HE providers should ensure that they deliver face-to-face teaching without restrictions’, and many of our peers have already reverted to pre-pandemic capacities in teaching spaces.
We have learned much during the pandemic about creating a healthier and safer campus and offering flexibility for international students who may be facing challenges travelling to Leeds.
We will build on what we have learned as we focus on future educational experiences, delivering active and engaging teaching, delivered in-person, and complemented by digital technology where it adds value.
From September 2022 our key teaching principles will be that:
• COVID will not be a driver for decisions relating to students and teaching in Leeds. The driver will be excellent educational experiences and the initiatives of the education strategy intended to support ongoing innovation.
• Our focus when choosing the teaching delivery mode for activities will be the educational objectives of the activities, taking into account the wellbeing of our students and the need to develop a sense of belonging. This will include the continued use of digital technologies to support learning in ways that are right for the context, in line with School and Programme requirements.
• Because we have more students on campus post-pandemic yet aim to deliver an exemplary student experience, we need to make best use of our highest grade, well-ventilated, digitally enabled space across all core teaching hours. We therefore need to explore ways to utilise more of the day and make better use of Fridays. Teaching staff will teach on campus whenever required in line with School and Programme requirements. This can and should be done in ways consistent with staff wellbeing and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion goals and principles.
• Students will be involved in discussions about the best use and balance of digital and blended learning and on-campus delivery within Schools/Programmes.
• We expect students to be in Leeds unless they are on a programme designed to be delivered entirely online.
• We do not deliver programmes in dual mode (ie we do not support on-campus and fully online students in the same cohort).
• Assessment will be digital by default. On-campus examinations can take place where exceptions to this have been agreed in line with the assessment strategy.
Our approach to room capacities
We recognise that some of the other changes we made during the pandemic also helped to enhance the student experience at Leeds. Many of these changes are now part of our standard practice, such as providing safe and comfortable capacities in our learning spaces and ensuring good ventilation.
Capacities in teaching spaces and laboratories will be maximised to the extent that student and staff comfort and ventilation assessments will allow.
Revised capacities will apply as soon as they are ready, including for pre-sessional programmes in the Language Centre starting in Easter 2022. However, we will not revisit Semester 2 timetables for programmes that have already begun.
Staff offices and other locations not designed for teaching should not be used for teaching delivery (although may still be used for one-to-ones, personal tutorials etc).
Ongoing support for international students
We understand that some students may still face some challenges around travel restrictions and self-isolation and we will continue to support these students to ensure they are able to travel to, settle in to, and make the most of their time at Leeds.
We will offer flexibility with delayed arrival where necessary to accommodate individual circumstances (eg travel disruption, visa issues, isolation requirements etc). However, in the interests of the student and cohort experience, we will continue to emphasise the expectation that students arrive before the start of their programmes, and will not normally extend arrival flexibility beyond teaching week 4 in Semester 1.
We will extend enhanced arrival support for future years to include airport pick-up and first day food boxes and will plan to offer this over an extended period.
We have embedded processes to manage delayed arrival, and processes for risk assessment and managing disruption to international placements/study abroad/field trips (whether caused by COVID or other factors) and these will remain central to our future ways of working.
How we will be sharing this information with students
We plan to share an overview of this plan with both current students and applicants over the next week so they have a clear idea of what their Leeds experience will look like from September. We’ll be gathering their questions and feedback and shaping future communications based on what students tell us they want to know.
Initial communications timeline:
• Monday 21 February – Approach shared with current students
• Week commencing 21 February – Approach shared with international applicants
We appreciate you’re likely to have questions and we’ll ensure there are plenty of opportunities for these over the coming months. But we hope you join us in viewing this as a positive development in what has been a challenging couple of years.
Professor Jeff Grabill
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education