Students condemn proposals for mainly online classes at University of Hertfordshire

University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield

University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield - Credit: University of Hertfordshire

More than 400 people have signed a petition opposing plans to hold a significant amount of University of Herts classes online this year.

Students at the university have started to receive their first timetables for the new academic year, and some claimed they only have online classes scheduled.

The university has now said timetables have not yet been finalised, and “all students will receive in-person, on-campus” teaching. They added the decision to continue online teaching will allow students to benefit from more flexibility.

More than 400 people have now signed the petition as of Friday, which claims that the cost benefits of virtual learning are being put ahead of students' preferences.

The petition comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said universities should be teaching in person where possible.

One University of Hertfordshire student, who lives in student accommodation, found that his timetable is currently only showing online teaching for all four of his modules.

He questioned the university’s decision to press ahead with virtual learning after a summer when major festivals returned and clubs were allowed to open.

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The student, who did not want to be named, said: “With us being allowed back in clubs and venues like Leeds Festival, how can they [decide] online lessons are still OK?”

Anonymous Instagram account, The University of Memefordshire, which started the petition, said: “Students deserve the university experience they were promised. Like always, we won’t be taking the pressure off until we see a real change.”

The university said their campuses will be fully open ahead of the new academic year, and they had “listened to students and evolved our teaching and learning delivery” over the past 18 months.

A spokesperson said: “All students will receive in-person, on-campus teaching sessions this year.  

“Timetables are being finalised as students continue to register for study and will be complete and confirmed during Welcome Week (commencing Monday September 27). 

“We have listened to students and evolved our teaching and learning delivery since the start of the pandemic and as well as in-person teaching we have increased the availability of high-quality online resources and recordings. 

“We know students enjoy flexibility and have benefited from online sessions as well as the university’s tailored on-campus teaching in smaller lectures, group seminars, tutorials and one to ones. Our campuses will be fully open shortly and students will be able to also make full use of learning and social spaces and all of our facilities.”