Updates from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Below you will find all of the important Covid-19 updates sent out by Professor Donna Whitehead, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at London Met.

Following the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday night, which initiated a national lockdown in England, we have reviewed teaching and support activities and put further measures in place to protect the health and safety of our students and staff.

Throughout the pandemic we have worked in partnership with our students, staff, and the Students’ Union to make sure we continue to provide you with the best possible experience - your success is so important to everyone at London Met and we will continue to do everything we can to support you during this challenging time.

We are incredibly proud to be one of the most diverse universities in the country, but we are also aware that with a higher proportion of students from groups that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic we have an important duty to do everything we can to protect our entire community.
Taking action to help stop the rising spread

We are mindful that the national lockdown has been prompted by a very recent shift in the Coronavirus alert level from 4 to 5. This level (which is different to tier levels) means that transmission is high and rising very fast. Being at level 5 means that there is a risk of health services being overwhelmed in the next 21 days and a need for extremely strict social distancing. This is the highest alert level and is higher than when the country went into lockdown last March and so it requires much higher social distancing arrangements than we have ever seen before.

With this in mind, we have taken the difficult decision to close all of our buildings, including the libraries, for the next three weeks. We will review access to libraries, labs and study spaces at the end of January.

In this email, I outline our plans to deliver all teaching remotely, provide details of a significant investment in e-resources, the range of support services available for you, and information about a five-day extension which will apply to all coursework due to be submitted between 4 January and 21 February.

Delivering teaching remotely

Since last Spring, adjustments have been made to accommodate the pandemic and make sure that you are able to continue your studies. We have developed alternative assessments and moved teaching and our extensive range of support services to remote delivery. We have always taken a cautious approach to in-person teaching this term, and we have been working with your course leaders and tutors to ensure that your learning can take place online. All teaching will be delivered remotely until at least 22 February, at which point we will be reviewing government guidance, and deciding what to do next. We want to give you short-term clarity but also be flexible to change if the situation with the pandemic allows us to.

Library resources

We have made a significant additional investment in digital resources for the library that builds on the wide range of resources already available. Your module and course leaders will be directing you to materials that are available electronically throughout this time.

To support you all during this crisis we will be expanding our digital collections. We will update our library webpagesFacebook and Twitter pages to keep you posted as new resources become available. The first resources to be added to our collections, which we plan to make available next week, will be:

  • Bloomsbury - Applied Visual Arts
  • Bloomsbury - Film Making Collection
  • Sociology Source Ultimate (Ebsco)
  • JSTOR Arts and Science VII

There are many more in the pipeline, across all subjects, so please do return to our library news page regularly to find out more.

Additional support

There is a wide range of support and advice available for all students. Please make sure you’re using the support that’s available to you.

  • The first person you can look to is your Course leader. They are there to support you throughout your studies and will be in regular contact with you to oversee your progress and give you guidance and advice with any aspect of your university life. They will also be able to direct you towards the support you need to help ensure your success.
  • School offices: You can access support, advice and guidance on a range of subjects, including module registration, your timetable, assessments, fees and funding, as well as support if you are struggling to engage with your studies from your dedicated School office.
  • Module leaders: Your module leaders are your first point of contact for anything to do with the module you are studying.
  • Academic mentors: London Met provides fantastic academic mentors, who are there to support you with academic skills, from essay writing to presentations.
  • Counselling: We know the pandemic has been tough on the mental health of a lot of people, and our counselling team have been providing outstanding support for our entire community since the start of the pandemic. We have also recently introduced a free peer-mentoring service, TalkCampus, if you need someone to talk to.
  • Hardship Fund: London Met has provided a significant increase to our hardship fund for any of you who are finding yourself in unexpected financial difficulties.

Coursework deadlines and childcare

We recognise that many of you will now have additional childcare responsibilities and so all Schools have given a five-day extension to all coursework due to be submitted between 4 January and 21 February. This means you do not have to apply for the self-certification route in the mitigating circumstances policy. If you need additional time then you are able to apply for further mitigating circumstances. Please discuss this with your module or course leader.

It’s important that you know we will continue to do everything we can to help you succeed, and we are fully committed to making sure no student is academically disadvantaged as a result of the current situation.

The importance of kindness

I am so proud of the London Met community and the compassion and kindness I’ve witnessed during the current pandemic. We are all affected by the lockdown and while we can all find ourselves feeling frustrated during this time, let’s please continue to offer each other kindness and understanding in all of our interactions.

Please make sure to join me and the rest of the University’s senior leadership team, at the next monthly student forum at the end of January - details will be in the next all student email. We listen to and learn from all of your feedback and these interactive one-hour sessions are your chance to let us know what’s working well and tell us ways in which we can improve.

Don’t forget, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and I am confident our community will emerge stronger than ever.

Best wishes,

Donna
Professor Donna Whitehead
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

On 30 December 2020, the government wrote to all universities in the UK with updated guidance which asks us to take more action to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

London Met has already adopted a safe and cautious approach in relation to the amount and timing of face-to-face teaching on campus. However, the new guidance means we now need to restrict on-campus teaching to a much smaller range of government-identified subject areas.

Following discussions today with Heads of School, the Students' Union, relevant professional service departments, and with the Universities Minister, arrangements will be as follows:

Impact on our students

Two groups of students will be unaffected (no changes)

  • Students where teaching is already taking place mostly remotely (Business, Law, Social Sciences, large parts of the School of Computing and Digital Media, and Social Professions). Arrangements remain unchanged, and remote delivery will commence on Monday 4 January as previously intended. Placements in social work, dietetics and education will continue as planned.
  • Students where teaching is on the government's priority list - for London Met this relates to students studying sports therapy, and sports and dance therapy courses. These students fall into the subject areas that the Government has prioritised and/or where there is mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled. Our existing plan for the delivery of this teaching and any associated placements is in line with the latest requirements, so we feel confident that, at this stage, no further changes will be required.

Some of our students will have their mode of delivery changed to comply with government requirements

  • Who? All students in the School of Arts, Architecture and Design, all students except for sports therapy and sports and dance therapy students in the School of Human Sciences, and some students in the School of Computing and Digital Media, and the Guildhall School of Business and Law that are studying highly practical subject areas that are not in the Government's list of priority subject areas.  

    What does this mean? We are not allowed to teach these courses face-to-face. Arrangements are being made to deliver this teaching remotely from Monday 4 January. In line with government requirements, this will continue until at least the week commencing 25 January and is subject to ongoing review and communication from the government.

If you're unsure how these changes will affect you, please contact your school office or course leader from Monday 4 January.

Building closures and library arrangements

From Monday 4 January all of our buildings will be closed except for the Science Centre, the Great Hall test centre and the library on Holloway Road. This also includes Calcutta house which will be closed and there will be no Covid-19 testing at this site for the time being.

Staff will not be on-campus unless they are delivering government required teaching and/or government required services. We will be reviewing Science Centre arrangements and library services next week to ensure that we support and protect students and staff. Please check our keeping you safe pages for updates.

No academic disadvantage

Earlier this year, we implemented new policies and regulations, in partnership with our Students’ Union, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged in any way as a result of the current situation, and have worked to ensure they reflect the needs of all our students. You can read a copy of our Academic Regulations; Exceptional Arrangements (Force Majeure).

While yesterday’s excellent news about the approval of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine was very welcome, we know that this is still a challenging time for many in our community. Please don’t forget that our extensive range of student support services are all available online - please let us know if you need support.

The pandemic has proven to be unpredictable, but we will continue to take action to ensure the health and wellbeing of our students and staff and follow government advice. We are reviewing our response to the pandemic on a regular basis, and we will be in touch with updates as soon as we have them.

I hope that you can have a restful New Year as we all look forward to the brighter days ahead.

Best wishes,
Donna 
Professor Donna Whitehead
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The University has made some changes to our academic regulations to protect your interests and to protect the integrity of London Met awards for all students.

Every university in the country is required to have a set of Academic Regulations that outline our academic standards and ensure that all of our students are treated consistently and equitably. From time to time the University needs to take exceptional measures to change its Academic Regulations. This move is only taken where the academic business of the University is disrupted by unforeseeable circumstances known as a “force majeure”. 

When we moved to remote delivery, we put in place policies to ensure that none of our students are in any way disadvantaged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a situation outside your control and the control of the University.  A decision was taken at a meeting of the University’s Learning Teaching and Quality Committee (LTQC) on 24 November to amend some of these policies. The amendments are in response to grade inflation witnessed as a result of the measures put in place; to ensure the maintenance of academic standards and the integrity of your degree; and to ensure fairness to students in their learning, teaching and assessment during the ongoing Covid-19 period. 

Read and find out more

The changes to your academic regulations are set out in the Exceptional Arrangements (Force Majeure) document. It’s important that you read the document and understand how this impacts on you. 
Here are the actions that we are taking to support you:

  • Everything will be provided to you online: you can access the materials you need for teaching, learning and the preparation for assessments at a time that suits you and staff will be as flexible as possible in providing support.
  • Using alternative assessments: we have made arrangements for alternative assessments to take place where appropriate. If this involves your modules, your course or module leader will communicate with you about arrangements. Alternative assessments will be used where students would find the original assessment set difficult to complete under significantly altered circumstances. 
  • We will be sympathetic in our marking:  Module leaders will be sympathetic in their approach to marking student work where students are unable to present their work in the standard format due to Covid-19 restrictions. In the majority of cases, adjustments will have already been made to assessments to enable students to perform at their best. This additional flexibility provides module tutors with the ability to accept work in different formats.  
  • For students currently undertaking placements that relate to professional body requirements: Students required to complete placements as part of their studies will be able to do so. Where this isn’t possible because of Covid-19 restrictions then the University will take all steps to find alternative ways for students to meet this requirement.
  • Mitigating circumstances: Students who are impacted by Covid-19 in any way can use the mitigating circumstances route. Mitigating circumstances will be available in cases where students have been personally impacted by circumstances related to Covid-19. In this case, if the mitigating circumstances claim is accepted, students can be granted an extension or an uncapped resit. 

If you have any questions about this change to your academic regulations, please contact your School Office.

This email has important updates about how teaching will be delivered for the rest of this term and our plans for the spring term. Please read the information carefully and if you need help or further assistance with any aspect of your experience at London Met, please contact your School Office.

Autumn Term

Last week, the UK government ordered all universities in the country to end face-to-face teaching by Tuesday 9 December at the very latest. As a result, we will be closing our buildings for teaching at 5pm on Friday 4 December. You will still be able to visit the library and book independent workspaces in the library until 18 December.

We have been cautious in our approach to in-person teaching, with your safety being our priority, which will mean that there will be minimal disruption for you.

Teaching and support services

All of your lectures and support services will continue to be delivered remotely. We are fully committed to providing you with the best possible experience, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that you will not be academically disadvantaged in any way by the current situation.

  • Library: you will still be able to access independent workspaces and use the click and collect book service until 18 December. Visit the library web pages to find out more.
  • Placements: off-site placements for students studying teaching, dietetics and social work will continue as planned. Please ensure you're following the latest government advice and guidance.

Asymptomatic testing

We will be running a Covid-19 testing service for students who are asymptomatic from the week commencing Monday 30 November. We will share more details, including how to book, at the start of next week.
Spring Term

We have taken the decision to continue in the spring term (from 4 January 2021) with the same teaching delivery as in the autumn term, so the majority of students will continue learning remotely and practical subjects will have specific face-to-face activity.

Over the last few weeks and months, the senior leadership team and I have been listening to feedback from all of you and will continue to look at how we can improve your experience. We've been really pleased to hear from many of you that remote delivery has worked very well, and we will continue to listen and make improvements. As always, your health and wellbeing remains our top priority and will be at the heart of every decision we make.

We will be in touch in the coming weeks to ensure you are provided with any updates, as they occur. We continuously review the situation and will take steps to reopen our buildings as soon as we feel it is safe to do. For the latest news on our buildings and other guidance, please visit our keeping you safe pages.

Please join the next Student Forum on Wednesday 16 December at 12pm, where you can hear about our plans and ask any questions you have about the spring term.

Until then, please stay safe for both you and our whole community.
Best wishes,
Donna

Professor Donna Whitehead
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Thank you to everyone who joined me, the Students' Union team, and the rest of the University's senior leadership team for the October student forum. We loved hearing what you thought had worked well and appreciated you telling us where we could do better.

We act on all your feedback, so please join us at the next all student forum on Monday 16 November at 2pm (link will be live at 1.50pm on 16 November). This will be another opportunity for you to meet with the senior leadership team within the University. Your views are very important to us, and help us to improve the experience for all students.

To keep all of you, and the wider community safe, we've deliberately been cautious with our approach to reopening our campuses. As we enter the countrywide lockdown we will continue to offer face-to-face sessions for students on highly practical courses in a Covid-safe and number controlled environments, in line with the latest government.

Play your part

Every one of us has to play our part to keep our buildings Covid-safe, so if you're on campus think Hands, Face, Space and Safe. Most importantly please protect everyone in our community and do not come to campus if you're feeling unwell. Please be reassured we have taken steps to ensure that you will not be academically disadvantaged in any way by the current situation.

I hope you are enjoying the start of the academic year, but remember if you are finding the current situation challenging we are here to support you. We have a range of services to support your mental or physical wellbeing - all of these services are currently being offered online. If you need help with your course, please contact your School Office.

Please stay safe and take care.

Donna
Professor Donna Whitehead
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

We hope you are well and looking forward to the start of the autumn term at London Met.

This email is a detailed update on how we plan to deliver your course and offer a great University experience this autumn. Below you’ll find information on our new, high-quality blended learning approach and more information on how we are making our campus Covid-safe, including our policy on masks and social distancing.

We are here to support you to succeed in your studies, whilst ensuring a safe environment for our entire community. We hope the information below, and further detail on our website, helps to reassure you for the autumn and we can’t wait to welcome you back to London Met in a few weeks’ time!

We'll be discussing these changes and answering your questions in online discussion forums later this month. Please register to join one of these sessions on Thursday 24 or Monday 28 September, both at 10am.

We wrote to you back in July to tell you about our plans for teaching your course and making sure you have a great student experience this autumn. We are delighted to provide you with an update on these plans now. 

Given the current situation we have decided to adopt a blended approach - a mix of high-quality remote learning and in-person sessions on campus. Students that are not on highly practical courses will be able to come onto campus to meet with academic staff and other students in our hour-long learning cafés every two weeks. This will give us a chance to keep in touch, and allow you to meet your classmates face-to-face.  

A high-quality blended learning experience

You can see a provisional outline of the teaching hours for your course on our website. Again, you won’t have to come onto campus for these sessions if you don’t feel comfortable or able to do so*.

Our blended approach to learning will include access to studios and labs for students on highly practical arts and life sciences courses, delivered according to government guidance. We will limit the number of students we have on campus at any one time to make sure everyone stays safe. You will be able to study remotely if you are not comfortable or able to come to campus.  

For students on modules that aren’t highly practical we will replicate our classes remotely at the same time as they are taking place on campus. Online lectures, seminars and workshops will be delivered by your lecturers in real time, and audio recordings will be stored in our virtual learning environment (Weblearn) to assist your learning. Most of the tools you used last year will still be available to help you interact with your lecturers and fellow students.

A Covid-safe campus

The safety of everyone in our community is our highest priority, and we've been working hard to ensure our campuses are as safe as possible for the start of term.

We’ve taken on board the latest government advice as well as the insights and knowledge of our own experts such as Dr Gary McLean, a molecular immunology expert from our School of Human Sciences, to develop a comprehensive range of measures to ensure a Covid-safe environment for your return to campus.

There will be enhanced cleaning on campus, and we are putting in place a number of measures to ensure we are Covid-safe. We have decided to make face coverings mandatory in all classrooms and corridors for staff and students, except where there is an exemption on medical or religious grounds. So if you are on campus you will need to protect yourself and our community by wearing a face covering. Reusable London Met face masks will be provided for all staff and students, and disposable masks will also be available on campus. We will be operating one-way systems, two metre social distancing and staggered building entry/exit times across our campuses, as well as providing hand sanitiser at key points in our buildings, with lots of signage to help make things clear. 

Play your part

Think Hands, Face, Space and Safe to play your part in keeping our campus Covid-safe

A full range of services for you

We will continue to offer student services such as money and accommodation advice, our counselling service and support for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties, remotely for the time being. However, we are continuing to keep a close eye on developments so we can quickly switch to providing these services on campus if things change.

Ensuring you have the best possible experience

We know that Covid-19 isn’t something that just affects your studies, it affects your home lives too. Be assured that we have tailored our support to take this into account. In partnership with our Students’ Union, we have implemented new policies and regulations to ensure that you are not disadvantaged in any way as a result of the current situation. 

What is most important to us is that you have a safe and outstanding experience at London Met. We will continue to review the situation weekly in line with government guidance and keep you informed of any changes we need to make.  

We are so proud of all the work your lecturers have been putting into making sure you have an excellent experience during the autumn 2020 term. We hope to welcome all of our students back on to campus full time by spring 2021, but whatever happens we will continue to offer all of our courses remotely for the rest of the year.

Our priority is your safety, and that of our whole community, while making sure you have access to the same great learning experience whichever option you choose.  

We can’t wait to see you in a few weeks’ time.

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