Students so far unlikely to be quarantined at University of Hertfordshire campus

Dr Mairi Watson became pro-vice chancellor, education and student experience, in May 2020 after bein

Dr Mairi Watson became pro-vice chancellor, education and student experience, in May 2020 after being dean of the faculty of business and law at the University of Northampton. Picture: UoH - Credit: Archant

With students trapped in on and off-campus accommodation at more than 30 universities in the UK, the University of Hertfordshire has so far avoided a similar fate.

The Hatfield-based university’s pro-vice chancellor for education and student experience, Dr Mairi Watson told the WHT, that this type of action has not been ruled out while its outbreak plan is changing in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But so far the university has only had four students test COVID-19 positive, who have not been on campus, out of its over 20,000 students, meaning the risk of transmission is low.

The university, along with the Royal Veterinary College, Oaklands College, West Herts College, North Hertfordshire College and Hertford Regional College has made changes to their campuses for the autumn return.

There is extra signage to remind staff and students to wash their hands, face-coverings in communal areas are mandatory, social-distancing is encouraged in all communal spaces through one-way systems, and there is reduced seating to lower the number of people in close proximity. Students are also reminded of the government requirements as well as their responsibilities to themselves, their friends, classmates, other members of their institution and the wider community.

Dr Watson added that she was “very impressed” by students, who have embraced face-coverings and downloaded the Uni of Herts app, which monitors their movements on campus for track and trace.

She also added that recruitment for international and UK students is still “buoyant” and students have regular COVID-19 updates, and all have a mixture of online and in-person learning – the extent of which depends on what type of course they are taking. “We’re in a strong position for this academic year,” she maintained.

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A spokeswoman added: “Our online learning sessions will deliver rich and high-quality teaching through guided-learning, live interactive sessions or pre-recorded content to give the best possible student experience.

“We continue to seek feedback from students regularly, making changes so that the digital elements of their course fully meet their needs. Recent student surveys show that they have found the transition to online learning earlier this year to be positive, with good provision in place and lots of support available.

“We will continue to listen, adapting what we offer and focusing on delivering high quality learning to all of our students.”

Fiona Thomson, executive member for governance, public health and climate change at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “Students can help a great deal by following the guidelines, especially advice about continual hand-washing and the wearing of face-coverings, but they should also contact the pastoral services team at their college or university if they need to, who will be ready to help and support their emotional wellbeing.”

For more on what the Uni of Herts is doing go to