Cambridge University moves learning online for full year

Some back decision to limit spread of coronavirus as others question whether any savings will be passed on to students.

Cambridge University
Cyclists are seen in front of a Cambridge University college following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cambridge, Britain on May 15, 2020 [Andrew Couldridge/Reuters]

The University of Cambridge has said it will teach students online for the next full academic year, scrapping face-to-face classes in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  

The university in the east of England says it expects social-distancing requirements will stay in place nationally for some time.

Lectures will continue via video until summer 2021, while it may be possible for smaller teaching groups to take place in person if they “conform to social-distancing requirements,” a spokesperson said.       

Exams will also continue to be carried out online. 

Cambridge can still charge full fees for online classes.  

The university said it may adapt the plans following updated advice on social distancing during the pandemic. 

It is the first university in the country to announce its plans for the next full academic year.        

It comes after a decision from Manchester University earlier in the week to scrap all face-to-face classes for the next term.        

University campuses have been closed in the country this term to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit UK particularly hard and killed more than 35,000 people, according to official figures.

The decision, which comes as the UK is expected to soon send children back to school, led to a debate on social media.

Some supported the move as a way of limiting the spread of coronavirus, as others raised concerns over tuition fees, saying any cost-saving with online teaching should be passed down to students.

“Cambridge University has some of the leading virologists, epidemiologists, zoonotic disease experts and professors of medicine in the world. And they won’t be having students in classes until at least 2021. Yet [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson wants YOUR kids at school,” said author Will Black.

English universities can charge home students up to £9,250 ($11,300) a year for an undergraduate degree, while the cost for international students differs between universities.

Priya Shah, founder of an organisation advocating for diversity in the property and planning sectors, said: “Will tuition fees be reducing to reflect the education being online only? I know I wouldn’t pay £9k just for an online education (would probably pay around half), as I’m not getting the full experience from behind a screen (even if it is Cambridge).”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies