University of Leeds students demand 'complete return' to in-person teaching

Students in Leeds have set up a petition to “demand a complete return to in-person teaching for University of Leeds students” after the institution announced that 'blended learning' will continue into the next academic year.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 1:55 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 1:56 pm

The announcement came after the government revealed that universities can provide face-to-face learning from Monday (May 17), causing frustration within the student community.

It will mean that University of Leeds students will continue to receive online lectures, even though universities can now deliver on-campus teaching.

Over 2500 students have already signed the online petition which was set up less than a week ago.

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The Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds.

It states the following: "The University should emphatically not be planning for a blended teaching approach, considering the freedoms that will be allowed in other parts of society come the start of the next academic year.

"Online teaching is in no way a substitute for in-person learning and it is ridiculous that the University would expect us to agree with or even accept their decision on teaching for the next academic year."

Will Huddie, a University of Leeds student who set up the petition, said: "I get there's a lot of uncertainty around Covid but I think the university needs to plan and work around Covid.

"I think the ability for students to engage with lecturers and their course is just so important because otherwise, you feel disconnected.

"You don't feel like you are a student at university, you just feel like you're someone sat in your room reading lecture notes.

"We don't want to just be landed with this version of blended learning that we don't enjoy if there is the option to discuss our wants and needs with the university.”

Will also expressed his concerns around the issue of loneliness for incoming students who are unable to meet friends on their course.

He has set up an open letter template, which students can fill in to have their name added to a letter to be sent off to the university.

In response to the petition, a University of Leeds spokesperson said: “We intend to give every student a substantial on-campus experience throughout next semester, including multiple face-to-face sessions each week – ranging from practical classes, performance activities and team projects, to seminars and tutorials.

“Although face-to-face teaching would therefore be the norm, we are currently planning on the basis that many large teaching events – in particular large lectures – will be delivered online as part of an overall hybrid approach at Leeds using digital technologies and online learning to augment and enrich in-person learning and increase access, flexibility and inclusivity.”

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