The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University are moving most teaching online for the next month after Covid outbreaks across the city.
Most courses will see face-to-face learning suspended, except for those with “clinical, medical and some laboratory-based teaching”.
In an email to students, Nancy Rothwell, Manchester University’s Vice-Chancellor, said the measures would be implemented tomorrow (Wednesday 7th October) and reviewed at the end of the month.
The email read: “We will increase the level of online learning for most programmes and will retain in-person provision for some courses which, for example, include clinical and medical and some laboratory-based teaching.
“This change will be in place until the 30th October 2020, but will be reviewed on 23rd of October.”
The move toward online teaching is a collaborative decision between UoM, MMU and local public health authorities.
The Manchester Evening News has reported that the council has decided to “escalate” its public health response.
It comes after UoM said that 1041 of its students have tested positive for Covid-19.
20 staff members have also come down with the virus in the figures that are based on self-reporting.
The total number of students currently self-isolating is unknown.
Some have expressed dismay at having face-to-face seminars cancelled. One second-year French and Italian student told The Mancunion: “I have [already] been moved to 100% online teaching. It’s extremely frustrating since the majority of us have been used to a traditional way of learning.”
Another second-year International Management student added that undergraduates should get a tuition fee refund.
They said: “I understand why we are having to move to more online teaching methods, but the fees should be lowered. The Open University are more qualified in online teaching yet our fees are triple.”
A joint statement from both universities said: “Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester recently met with the public health authorities and Manchester City Council following the significant increase in the number of Covid cases across the city of Manchester.
“As a result, we have agreed to increase the level of online learning for most programmes, with effect from tomorrow, Wednesday 7th October. This change will be in place until 30th October 2020.
“Our campuses remain open and we will continue to ensure the necessary safety precautions are in place to make any activity on campus as safe as possible. We will continue to support our staff and students.”
David Regan, director of public health at Manchester council, added: “This is the right thing to do and supports our approach using data and a local approach to contain outbreaks so that we reduce the possibility of further infection.
“More online teaching will protect staff, students and the wider community, which is what we want and need.”
Fallowfield Central, were many Manchester undergraduates live, was named the Covid hotspot of the UK last week. It saw 558 new Coronavirus cases confirmed by Public Health England in the week to 1st October.