The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on all of our lives, in many different ways. We have all had to make changes to the ways in which we live, work and study and it has left many people with questions about the future.
This is particularly the case for young people, many of whom will have been planning to travel to the UK to start their university degrees later this year. They are likely to have a lot of questions about what their next year might look like, how they will make friends, join in activities and develop the type of skills and knowledge that can lead them to the best jobs available.
The University of Sheffield, UK is planning for the start of the next academic year to involve a mix of face-to-face teaching in small groups to allow for social distancing, supported by online delivery for bigger lectures. Online teaching is something the current students have been engaging with positively since the middle of March, when the university made the decision to temporarily move all of the teaching online.
The University’s staff have worked incredibly hard to find innovative and creative ways to teach and assess the students online and it has been fantastic to see how students have adapted to this change.
Professor Koen Lamberts, Vice Chancellor and President, University of Sheffield, said “I want to reassure those students that we are here to support you as you make your plans and provide the answers you need. UK universities will be open and ready this autumn to provide the world-class education for which they are rightly known across the globe. My priorities have been the health, safety and wellbeing of our community, ensuring we continue to offer the highest quality education, and making sure our students and staff have all the support they need. I know that the start of the next academic year will look different to previous years, but we are committed to our students’ education and will make sure that they have a fulfilling university experience”
To prepare for the next academic year, the university staff have been using computer software to model the teaching spaces, rooms and other areas on campus to plan timetabling that allows for social distancing, and have changed the start date for the postgraduate taught courses to ensure international students can meet the conditions of their offer and plan their arrival in Sheffield.
Over the last few months, the university has also been working hard to ensure that it is providing the incredible student experience that Sheffield is known for. This has included hosting weekly global hangout sessions for international students, giving them the opportunity to engage with students from different countries while also mitigating the isolating effects of lockdown. Sheffield’s award-winning Students’ Union and its societies have moved many of their activities online, including dance classes and meditation sessions, and the Indian Society has been running online cooking events.
The students have really come together to support each other and the wider community during this challenging time , for example, the University’s International Officer has been gathering and donating spare face masks from international students to frontline health and care workers and other students have completed physical challenges in their own homes to raise money for local charities.
Sheffield has a long standing and successful partnership with India. Each year the university welcomes many students from India and the University has worked in collaboration with Indian universities on projects ranging from research into antimicrobial resistance, to providing a sustainable energy supply for a remote Indian village.
Despite the pandemic, the university hopes students in India will choose to study in the UK this year and stresses it is here to support students as they make their decision. A university education is more relevant and valuable than ever in these uncertain times and international study gives students the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge, critical thinking, and connections to drive forward their careers. Last year, the UK government announced a new post study work visa that will allow international students to remain and work in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies, providing even greater opportunities.
It is inevitable that the start of the next academic year will be different, and the University of Sheffield will need to adapt to changes as they come, but it can guarantee that those who choose to study in the UK will receive the same welcome and outstanding education for which UK universities are globally renowned.