University Plans – Autumn 2020

The University plans to open its buildings in September for new and existing students. This will be in line with guidance from Public Health England and the Health & Safety Executive in order this can be done safely. It is our intention to allow access to the buildings and carry out face-to-face teaching wherever possible whilst following the Government’s guidance.

The past few months have demonstrated that there are some benefits to working in a virtual environment. We will continue to work with some new practices alongside the traditions on which our University was founded and which have grown and developed over our history. One-to-one contact with staff and opportunities to work in small groups, with and without staff, are central to our teaching and learning and these opportunities can be facilitated both online and face-to-face. For example, tutorials have been shown to work well online and we will continue with this.

It is also important to stress that while we are preparing for all eventualities, if the risk levels drop and special measures are no longer required in the UK, we will allow access to our buildings as we would normally.

We will continue to email regular updates to students, staff and applicants.

Further Information

Will the University be open in the autumn?

Yes, we plan for our buildings to be open in September so the academic year is not delayed. Face-to-face teaching is important to us. One-to-one contact with staff and opportunities to work in small groups, with and without staff, are central to our teaching and learning so we will continue with this wherever possible. Where this is not possible we will use the best of the online methods we have found to work well, this includes video conferencing for tutorials, live video briefings and events and recordings of lectures that are backed up by live discussions.

We are preparing for all eventualities. If the risk levels drop and special measures are no longer required in the UK, we will allow access to our buildings as we would normally.

Will teaching and learning be face-to-face or online?

For 2020/21 we are planning for our timetables to be a blend of online, via video conferencing, and face-to-face teaching within the buildings. We will continue with aspects of teaching that have suited working outside the buildings, as well as allowing access to the buildings and face-to-face contact as much as possible within government guidance.

The teaching and support that we have found works best online will continue to be carried out in this way, including tutorials and lectures. On-site teaching will include seminars and practical sessions.

Essential introductions to workshops will take place face-to-face. We will be providing additional online support and materials that will assist later drop-in use of workshops and for external working. We will be making drop-in workshop access available through online booking as circumstances allow.

We have received student feedback on the benefits of recording lectures. While formal lectures are only a small part of our teaching, providing these online has allowed students to pause, rewind and replay, reflect and then discuss them during live seminars, making learning deeper and more sustained.

Talks from visiting creative professionals outside students’ main taught hours will continue and are often likely to be organised via video conferencing, with the opportunity to engage in live question and answer sessions at the end. Our Careers team have organised some very high profile international speakers in this way and we have found these to be of huge benefit to those who have attended.

What health and safety measures will be in place?

Opening safely is our absolute priority. Since March we have been planning the reopening of our buildings in line with government guidance from Public Health England and the Health & Safety Executive.

We have mapped out every room in the University with the maximum number of people who can be in them while ensuring social distancing. Entrances, corridors and other spaces have also been mapped out and these will be clearly marked so it is easy to understand how to access the buildings and the areas within them. There will be increased cleaning of areas and protocols to follow for accessing certain shared facilities or using equipment. These protocols will also include guidance to ensure groups can be asked to isolate if there is a suspected case while testing is carried out. The staff will manage all of this process so there is no need to be concerned about any of these aspects and all students will be briefed fully at the start of the year.

What if government health & safety guidance changes?

We have the flexibility to adjust if social distancing rules are relaxed and we will amend our protocols and allow more people into our workshops and studios.

Will my accommodation be safe?

We have been in discussion with our main accommodation providers who are also ensuring their accommodation can be accessed safely and in line with the guidance. We are fortunate that Leeds is a relatively compact city centre and the majority of students who live away from home stay in accommodation which is within walking distance from the University, limiting the need for these students to use public transport. For those students who commute from further afield, we will be flexible where there is a need to access public transport. Students with questions regarding accommodation should contact the accommodation provider directly.

My finances have been affected by Covid-19, does the University offer any financial support?

Some students will find themselves in a different financial position than when they applied for student loans. For UK undergraduate students the Student Loan Company has changed its processes where a change in circumstances may jeopardise a student’s ability to go to University. There is further information on their website:

Our hardship fund is also designed to help where circumstances jeopardise a student’s ability to continue their studies.

What if there are further lockdowns or I have to self-isolate?

In preparing for our academic year 2020/21 we are establishing how the University will operate under different scenarios depending upon how the Coronavirus may impact the country and guidance from Public Health England. We have to accept that social distancing and other measures are likely to be in place for some time and if the infection rate starts to rise there may be a further lockdown. We will follow certain principles when timetabling so we can move to a purely online mode of teaching in the event of a further lockdown, or in circumstances where students (or staff) have to self-isolate. These include the following:

  • Briefs will not be dependent on specific facilities but designed to develop the core skills, knowledge and understanding required by module specifications;
  • Where outputs in the form of made artefacts or work are required, we will carefully consider their form in order to minimise the cost to students of producing them;
  • All submissions for assessment will be digital to ensure that courses can operate under any of the circumstances that the changing environment may bring. This does not mean that outcomes will not be practical, but that the actual submission will be digital, for instance photographs of an artefact or a recording of a performance.

Will there be a freshers’ week for new students?

Yes. Welcome and arrival preparations are underway and Course Leaders, staff and the Students’ Union are developing activities and events for your first weeks to help students settle in quickly and get to know people. These activities and events will take place in the University buildings, in external venues and online.

Starting at University is a very exciting experience, but it can also be daunting, particularly in the current situation. We understand that for new students getting to know us, making new friends and for many, moving to a new city and student accommodation are all important to how students settle into this new experience.

How will overseas students be affected?

Some overseas students may wish to be taught purely online for a period of time. These may include students who live outside the UK and have travel restrictions or have to quarantine when they arrive. This may be available on a case-by-case basis. Any student who would like to apply for this should contact the Academic Registrar in the first instance.

Are you currently holding any open days?

We will be hosting online open days for the Autumn of 2021 and we will contact those who have previously signed up for an open day by email with the new online date.

To join one of our online open days and find out more about our courses sign up here.

Will the end of year shows take place this year?

Due to the Government stopping public gatherings, we will instead be celebrating our final year students’ work with a digital end of year show which will be supported by a printed publication. We are working to ensure our students’ creative talent is showcased to the creative industries and arts community through all the channels that are possible and we are investing substantially in this. We are also working with our Students’ Union to look at the possibilities of their hosting a public exhibition of final year students work at an external venue nearer the graduation date for those students who want this. 

Will graduation take place this year?

The graduation will take place on 7 and 8 December, subject to Government guidance. The event will take place in the Royal Armouries, Leeds. We are regularly updating graduating students via email and will keep the graduation webpage updated.