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Cambridge becomes first university in the world to axe ALL face-to-face lectures until autumn 2021 due to ‘rigid social distancing’

  • University said ‘there will be no face-to-face lectures during next academic year’ 
  • Announcement comes after leaked internal email obtained by student paper
  • It comes after Office for Students said that varsity bosses had to give clarity  
  • Many institutions around the world have signalled delays until 2021, but Cambridge has gone much further in deciding to go online for the entire year 
  • Professor Mary Beard sides with Cambridge students after email leaks

By Ross Ibbetson and Luke May For Mailonline, 20 May 2020

Cambridge University has become the first university in the world to axe all face-to-face lectures until summer 2021 due to ‘rigid social distancing.’

Britain’s second oldest university said that because social distancing appeared to be likely to continue for a long time, ‘there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year.’

The institution, which prides itself on academic rigour, did not say how it would continue to maintain the highest standards with students kept at range.

Other universities, including Oxford, Edinburgh and Cardiff, are planning a mixture of on-campus and remote lectures from the start of the academic year.

A spokesman for Cambridge told the MailOnline: ‘Lectures will continue to be made available online and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social distancing requirements.

‘This decision has been taken now to facilitate planning, but as ever, will be reviewed should there be changes to official advice on coronavirus.’

BBC presenter Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the prestigious university, has sided with angered students over the decision.

Prof Beard tweeted this morning: ‘I am rather on the Cambridge students side over moving all lectures online next year (though I don’t shed quite so many tears about some aspects of Freshers week!) but it IS complicated. (What is meant by ‘lectures’ for a start).Wd have been nice to hear someone explain rationale.’ 

The University of Oxford’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Prof Martin Williams, set out plans for the first term of the academic year to Oxford students earlier this week, saying: ‘Face-to-face teaching and research supervision will be complemented by high quality online activities where necessary, delivered by Oxford’s world-leading academic staff and drawing on the exceptionally rich resources available through our colleges, laboratories, libraries and collections.

It comes after the Office for Students said university chiefs had to give students ‘absolute clarity’ about what their future ‘campus experience’ would be.

Universities are still able to charge full fees while offering online courses. 

Cambridge is the first to take such a dramatic step, although the University of Manchester had announced last week it would be going online for at least the first (autumn) semester. 

Students from across the country have raised concern over the decision. 

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