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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

What will 2020/21 look like? Alan takes your questions...

(12 August 2020)

Alan Houston, our Vice-Provost (Education)

Welcome (back) to Durham University

As Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased for Durham and North East England, we’re looking forward to welcoming students to Durham in September.

We understand you will be keen to know what the academic year 2020/21 will look like, and how we’re working to keep you safe. Here our Vice-Provost (Education), Professor Alan Houston, answers some of your questions.

Q: Should I travel to Durham?

Alan: We’re expecting most students, both new and returning students, to be with us here in Durham from September, ready for undergraduate teaching to begin on Monday 5 October.

Your health, safety and wellbeing is our top priority. We’ve developed robust health and safety plans, informed by UK government guidance, that will enable us to meet the challenges posed by Covid-19 in a changing environment. We can all help keep one another safe. Visit our What to expect on campus page to find out more.

If you’re unable to be part of our residential communities, due to travel restrictions or serious health concerns, more information is available here.

Q: When should I travel to Durham?

Alan: This depends on whether you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate student, a new or returning student, and where you’re travelling from – whether you need to quarantine (self-isolate) on arrival. All dates are available on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

Q: What if I need to quarantine (self-isolate)?

Alan: If you are living in a College for 2020/21 and need to quarantine on arrival in Durham, you can stay in College for your self-isolation period, free of charge. If you are living in private accommodation, we expect you to self-isolate in your new home. If you can’t do this, or want to self-isolate at the University before moving into your private accommodation, we have a limited number of rooms available, free of charge. For more information, check out this FAQ.

For international students arriving in the UK, we also offer a free welcome and transfer service from Newcastle International Airport. For more information and to book, visit our Welcome Service page.

Q: How much teaching will be face to face?

Alan: In the first term, teaching with larger numbers of students, such as lectures, will be available online either synchronously (live) or asynchronously (pre-recorded). For most students, teaching in smaller-group settings, such as seminars, tutorials and practicals – will be delivered face to face on campus, where this is possible and can be done safely. Other small group teaching sessions will be available digitally. If you are unable to travel or have health concerns, please read this FAQ.

We’ll be saying more about this later in August, when we publish our full teaching timetable.

Q: What about life outside of lectures?

Alan: We’re very proud of the student experience at Durham, and we’ve worked really hard to make as much of this as possible available online during 2020. We’ll be doing everything we can to make sure College communities are active and engaging; sport, the arts and volunteering will take place face to face where possible, supplemented by online activities; and our Student Support and Wellbeing Services will be available both in person and online.

Q: What if government advice changes, or another lockdown is required?

Alan: When the UK entered lockdown in March 2020, we moved all our classes online. We’re reviewing our plans constantly, so if Covid-19 restrictions are increased again, we’ll make adjustments.

Q: Do you have any Clearing places available?

Alan: We don’t anticipate that we will be recruiting through Clearing, but if any places become available they will be advertised through this web page.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Durham. With everyone taking proper precautions, we can all help keep one another safe and enjoy a great year ahead.

If you have more questions, please visit our Students or Applicants and Future Students web pages.