Following around 18 months of online teaching, the government is now encouraging all universities to return to face-to-face teaching as students return to university.

education secretary news
Source: New Statesmen

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said he does not “expect to see online learning”, especially as “a cost-cutting measure”. However, he went on to say that in situations where there is a “genuine benefit to using technology”, online teaching is acceptable, but that students should expect to be taught in person.

This comes after all lockdown measures have been removed due to the vaccination progress. Williamson mentioned that parents and students alike would find it “odd” if students were allowed to go to other social activities like their fresher’s events but not permitted into the lecture halls.

Is it worth the risk? 

With record numbers of students going to university this year, it would be a shame for them to work online. Gavin Williamson said that these students, as with returning students, would be craving a “return to normality”. Other sectors have returned to a relatively ‘pre-covid’ state, and the Education Secretary was adamant that there should not be a delay in returning to face-to-face classes.

He went on to say that teaching in person could be more effective, allowing students to benefit from further discussion and the “conversations you have around the margins” in lectures and seminars. This comes after the past two academic years seeing much teaching done online, despite petitions from students and complaints at subpar teaching.

vaccine rollout stats uk
Source: BBC

With the vaccination programme working fast and with about 60% of 18-24-year-olds having had their first vaccine, plus many events requiring covid certification, many students and parents are arguing for a return to in-person teaching.

What do students think? 

Following 2 years of online teaching and uncertainty, students have been waiting for permission to return to campus. Despite the unprecedented situation, many students have felt that their education has been subpar, with lecturers being unavailable outside of usual office hours. This call to return to in-person teaching aligns with all of the other restriction changes and could lead to higher education institutions’ increased success.

This year, 25 universities had fewer than half of their students progress to further study or graduate posts. The education secretary has said that these statistics are “simply unacceptable”, which may be why he is pushing for the return to normal university structures.