Lockdown UK: When will universities reopen, and which courses will return first?

Graduation ceremonies have moved online because of the pandemic. (Picture: Getty)

Schools across the country are preparing to reopen from March 8, with Dominic Raab saying that he hopes all children will return to teaching by the date.

In Scotland, pupils will be heading back to the classroom from Monday February 22, with phased returns also planned in the other home nations.

For those in higher education though, a return to in-person learning after lockdown doesn’t seem likely.

Thousands of university students were forced to quarantine in their accommodation for the autumn term, with University of Manchester students even barricaded in.

So, when will universities reopen, and which courses will return first?

When will universities reopen in England?

Government guidance states that students should not return to university if they are currently staying elsewhere, until March 8.

A return to in-person teaching doesn’t seem likely any time soon. (Picture: Getty)

The Office for Students has information for students who need to return to their term-time address – although they stress that national lockdown guidelines should be followed. If students do return to university, they should have a coronavirus test immediately.

In-person teaching will only resume for a small number of courses – otherwise, universities are advised to move their teaching online.

The exact details of how universities will reopen after March 8 will depend on the institution itself, according to the government website.

The University of Exeter are offering lateral flow tests for students who need to visit campus, whereas St Andrews has said most students should not return for the second semester of teaching.

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When will universities reopen in Wales?

In Wales, similar rules apply, with the Welsh government advising that teaching should take place online if possible.

For the purposes of travel, students in Wales are classed as having ‘two households’ – their term-time accommodation, and their family home.

This means travel between the two can happen in some circumstances, although only if both households are in Wales.

When will universities reopen in Scotland?

Students are not expected to return to universities in Scotland until mid-March, although this remains under review.

In circumstances where attendance is vital for graduation, a very limited numbers of students may be able to return from mid-February.

Otherwise, Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, has said that a return to University would ‘fuel the virus’.

Many spent the first term of the academic year in quarantine. (Picture: PA)

When will universities reopen in Northern Ireland?

Universities in Northern Ireland remain open, despite lockdown being extended until April.

Restrictions vary between universities, but students on campus are advised to set up household bubbles in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Students are also advised not to travel home once they return to university for the academic term.

Students in Northern Ireland are advised not to return home once on campus. (Picture: PA)

Which courses will have face to face teaching?

Most courses will remain largely online, but some courses will prioritise face to face teaching. These are:

  • Medicine and dentistry (and subjects allied to medicine and health)
  • Veterinary health
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social studies (including social work)
  • Policing.

Students are advised to check guidance from their institution for more details about online learning.

Alongside lectures and seminars, exams are expected to change as students move into their final terms – but for now, most modules will remain online.

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