Universities within the UK are being urged to scrap plans for face-to-face instructing till Christmas with a purpose to forestall a second wave of coronavirus.
Teachers’ union, UCU, stated greater than one million college students transferring across the nation was “a recipe for catastrophe”.
UCU chief Jo Grady stated universities weren’t ready, and risked changing into the “care houses of the second wave”.
However college bosses say they’ve labored arduous to plan for a secure return to all elements of pupil life.
When college students return in September, they are going to be anticipated to abide by new insurance policies on using face coverings and social distancing protocols.
In the meantime there shall be security partitions to maintain them aside, in addition to extra cleansing and air flow and smaller class sizes the place face-to-face instructing takes place.
When nationwide lockdown measures had been introduced in on the finish of March, universities cancelled lectures, tutorials and a few exams. Many continued their classes and lectures on-line nonetheless, and even held remaining exams remotely.
Over the summer time, universities have been getting ready for the return of their college students’ return, with most promising a mixture of face-to-face and on-line studying – or “blended studying” – with college students taught in prolonged “bubble” teams.
However few, if any, universities have taken the step of telling their college students to not transfer into their lodging.
Ms Grady stated having tens of 1000’s of scholars heading into cities throughout the UK “dangers doing untold injury to individuals’s well being and exacerbating the worst public well being disaster of our lifetimes”.
She stated: “We’re very involved that universities, and the UK extra typically, are merely not ready for the mass migration of what’s over one million college students.
“Specifically, we’re involved about college students going from excessive threat areas into areas with fewer instances.”
She stated she was notably apprehensive concerning the threat of the virus spreading in cities with large pupil populations.
“Mrs Grady stated: “If we have a look at some key cities: Manchester has 100,000 college students; Birmingham is not far behind with 80,000; and Leicester has 40,000.
“These are all cities which have had some type of native lockdown and have come out of it or are about to enter one.”
She added: “We do not have a functioning monitor and hint [system], we do not have a UK-wide testing for college students who’re arriving for college, or subsequent and common testing.
“We’re actually apprehensive about younger individuals congregating in halls of residence and simply what this may imply when it comes to transmission.
“We do not assume enough security measures are in place,” she added.
The union stated it was backing the place of the Unbiased Sage committee which has referred to as for on-line studying to be universities’ default place.
The already troublesome scenario, with universities doing their finest to herald socially distanced methods of working, has been made worse by the upper than anticipated variety of college students this yr, she stated.
‘No common testing’
The exams disaster over the summer time meant many extra college students in the end achieved the grades wanted to get into college, after the federal government’s last-minute change of thoughts on school-assessed grades.
The UCU says there shall be challenges in ditching the blended studying strategy, and changing it with online-only instructing.
However Ms Grady stated it was time for the federal government “to lastly take some decisive and accountable motion on this disaster and inform universities to desert face-to-face instructing”.
She additionally referred to as on the federal government to underwrite any lack of payment earnings to universities, and to assist college students who’ve issues in connecting remotely.
Nationwide Union of College students president Larissa Kennedy stated universities ought to solely ship face-to-face instructing for lab-based and practice-based programs.
“In-person instructing ought to solely happen if might be delivered safely for all workers and college students, and social distancing tips and different security measures might be maintained,” she stated.
She backed requires extra pupil assist with distant studying and urged universities to work with their pupil unions on choices about how finest to re-open campuses.
Universities UK president Julia Buckingham stated: “Many workers wish to return to in-person instructing, analysis and different actions the place it’s secure and acceptable to take action.”
They’re additionally conscious of the advantages of in-person instructing and assist for college students’ well-being and improvement, she stated.
“The dedication proven all through the lockdown and into restoration has been exceptional,” she added.
A Division for Training spokesman stated: “We’re assured that universities are nicely ready for the return of scholars by taking measures similar to introducing social distancing on campus, limiting journey requirement for courses and staggering instructing throughout prolonged days to cut back numbers on web site.
“Opening universities is part of the Prime Minister’s cautious roadmap, and it’s important that we proceed to open schooling settings wherever it’s secure to take action.
“We assist nose to nose instructing solely the place potential and if security tips are adopted, however know that top high quality on-line instructing will also be delivered if mandatory.
“We’re maintaining our steering beneath fixed evaluate, and are presently updating our recommendation on reopening larger schooling buildings and campuses to mirror the most recent public well being recommendation, together with on face coverings, native lockdowns and check and hint.”