Universities

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th January 2022.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage universities to make face-to-face teaching compulsory.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Face-to-face teaching is a vital part of getting a high-quality student experience. With the removal of the Plan B measures, there are no COVID restrictions that apply to higher education (HE) and providers should ensure that they are delivering the full programme of face-to-face teaching and learning that they were providing before the COVID-19 outbreak.

We know that in response to the COVID-19 outbreak HE providers delivered new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning and that some providers continue to use some of these approaches alongside in-person provision. However, online learning should only be offered to enhance the student experience, not to detract from it, and it should not be used as a cost-cutting measure. The Office for Students (OfS) will be monitoring to ensure this is the case, and that universities are being open about what students can expect.

The government expects all universities to continue to deliver excellent learning, in line with guidance from the OfS. On 29 October, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Higher and Further Education, wrote to all English HE providers to make clear that we expect them to be offering a high quality face-to-face student experience. On 17 January, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote an open letter to students about face-to-face teaching, setting out what they can do if they feel they are not getting the teaching they signed up for. This letter can be found here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2022/01/17/face-to-face-teaching-is-a-vital-part-of-getting-a-high-quality-student-experience-education-secretary-nadhim-zahawi-writes-to-students/. In addition, the Minister of State for Higher and Further Education has been speaking with some university Vice Chancellors to ensure they are offering students the amount of in-person teaching they should expect.

If students have concerns, they should first raise them with their HE provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at HE providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

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