Uni bosses in Lancashire deny they are flouting Covid regulations

A Lancashire university has denied it is flouting the Government's Covid guidance by asking some students to return to campus this week.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 7:00 am

Edge Hill, based in Ormskirk, is one of three universities in England - Oxford and Manchester Metropolitan are the others - accused by a teaching union of breaching the rules over a return to in-person tuition.

The University and College Union (UCU) alleged Edge Hill was "telling staff to provide in-person teaching for courses such as psychology and computing that can easily be taught online."

But the university dismissed the claims saying the guidelines were being followed.

The Edge Hill campus at Ormskirk.
The Edge Hill campus at Ormskirk.

"The health, safety and wellbeing of our Edge Hill community remains our main priority," said a spokesman.

"Following the Prime Minister’s road map out of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, we have diligently followed the Government’s guidance to ensure that only those students who are on practical courses and whose academic success depends on attending campus are returning to complete necessary elements of their course.

"No student will attend for more than one day per week and the majority of our students will continue to learn online .

"We continue to ensure we are a Covid secure campus, keeping our staff and student community safe.

"Colleagues have worked hard to ensure all teaching spaces are set up in accordance with Government guidance and the measures we have put in place to control risks have been verified by an external Health and Safety adviser and implemented in consultation with local authorities, Public Health and through sharing best practice with other HEIs.

"With no Covid cases on campus and no staff cases , we are continuing to ensure staff and students adhere to our community pledge and play their part in reducing the impact of the virus."

The guidelines state that in-person teaching should only resume today if subjects are practical or practice-based and require specialist equipment and facilities, and “providers should not ask students to return if their course can reasonably be continued online.”

UCU said the universities of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan and Edge Hill were in breach of the guidelines and are putting the safety of staff, students and wider communities at risk.

General secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Government guidelines created to protect us from Covid say that teaching should remain online wherever possible, but the universities of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan and Edge Hill seem to think they know better, and are flouting them.

"Any university encouraging students back on to campus when teaching could be carried out online must ask itself whether it is doing so for the sake of its students or its bank balance.

‘We have called for as much teaching as possible to be kept online for the rest of this academic year to protect staff, students and the wider community. Universities reliance on income from tuition fees is responsible for much of the disruption and uncertainty faced by staff and students over the past year.

"The government needs to provide secure, long-term funding for all institutions."