University of Hertfordshire responds to student petition calling for end to virtual learning

The petition claims that the cost benefits of virtual learning are being put ahead of student’s preferences.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:56 pm

The University of Hertfordshire has responded to a petition signed by more than 400 people after students found a significant amount of classes would remain online this year.

Students at the university have started to receive their first timetables for the new academic year, and some claimed they only have online classes scheduled.

The university has said timetables have not yet been finalised, and “all students will receive in-person, on-campus” teaching. They added the decision to continue online teaching will allow students to benefit from more flexibility.

University of Hertfordshire de Havilland Campus. (The image has been used for illustrative purposes only) (C) Google Maps

More than 400 people have now signed the petition as of Friday, September 10 (3.45pm), which claims that the cost benefits of virtual learning are being put ahead of student’s preferences.

The petition comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that universities should be teaching in person where possible.

Speaking at the Universities UK annual conference on Thursday September 9, Mr Williamson said: “Obviously, I am not saying that you relax all those health measures which are there to keep people as safe as possible and minimise the risk of Covid transmission.

“What I do want to make clear is that I do not expect to see online learning used as a cost-cutting measure.”

However, one University of Hertfordshire student, who lives in student accommodation, has found that his timetable is currently only showing online teaching for all four of his modules.

They questioned the University’s decision to press ahead with virtual learning after a summer when major festivals returned and clubs were allowed to open.

The student, who did not want to be named, said: “With us being allowed back in clubs and venues like Leeds Festival, how can they [decide] online lessons are still ok?”

Anonymous Instagram account, The University of Memefordshire, which started the petition said: “Students deserve the university experience they were promised. Like always, we won’t be taking the pressure off until we see a real change.”

The University said that their campuses will be fully open ahead of the new academic year, and they had “listened to students and evolved our teaching and learning delivery” over the past 18 months.

A University of Hertfordshire spokesperson said: “We can’t wait to welcome our students back to campus for the new academic year. All students will receive in-person, on-campus teaching sessions this year.

“Timetables are being finalised as students continue to register for study and will be complete and confirmed during Welcome Week (week commencing Monday 27 September).

“We have listened to students and evolved our teaching and learning delivery since the start of the pandemic and as well as in-person teaching we have increased the availability of high-quality online resources and recordings.

“We know students enjoy flexibility and have benefited from online sessions as well as the University’s tailored on-campus teaching in smaller lectures, group seminars, tutorials and one to ones. Our campuses will be fully open shortly and students will be able to also make full use of learning and social spaces and all of our facilities.”