Education Minister Nadim Al-Zahawi said there were “no excuses” for universities for not offering face-to-face learning despite an increase in Covid cases and staff absenteeism.
Mr. Zahawi said his expectations of universities “is that they deliver education face-to-face… that they should” and that students who “feel that they are not getting value for money” should file complaints with the “Student Bureau.”
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Al-Zahawi’s comments come as a number of universities have introduced online or “blended” learning this semester, and schools have been slightly affected by the staff shortage.
The paper said Durham University will take all classes online in the first week of term, Queen’s University Belfast will hold most classes online this month, and King’s College London has moved some classes to distance learning.
According to the research paper, more than 100 institutions, including 23 of the Russell Group’s top 24 institutions, plan to offer a combination of online and face-to-face tutoring for the term.
Al-Zahawi pointed to primary and secondary schools as role models.
They do it in primary and secondary schools and in colleges. I expect universities to do the same, otherwise explain why not. There are no excuses, we are all in this together.
But he also told the newspaper’s employees that the absenteeism rate is around 8.5%.
Former teachers were asked to help return to classes last week to fill in absences, and at least 500 of them have done so, according to Stratford-on-Avon MP.
Al-Zahawi announced last week that face coverings will be required in classrooms until at least January 26 in response to the surge in infections in the current Omicron wave.