UCL News


UCL’s response to new Government national restrictions from 5 November 2020 - Part 2

4 November 2020

A message from the Provost to UCL staff.

UCL Portico

Update: Temporary operating model for Terms 2 and 3

On 9 November UCL shared the new temporary operating model for Terms 2 and 3. Read the update.

Dear colleagues, 

Following my message to you on Sunday afternoon, I can now confirm what the new national restrictions will mean for us at UCL.

Firstly, I want to say that I understand that this a time of great uncertainty for us all and it is by no means clear how long this will last nor how we will exit this situation. What we do at UCL over the remainder of Term One will have an impact through to next year. I want us to do all we can to balance the differing needs and concerns of our staff and students in this changing context, as far as is possible.

In line with the Government’s announcement, UCL will remain open, continuing to operate in a COVID-secure way. Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities wrote to me on 2 November expressing her support for universities remaining open and setting out further guidance.

Research labs will remain open for those who need to continue research on site; this will be on a voluntary basis and should be for research in the national interest, or where research requires equipment or facilities which are only available on campus.

Our libraries, study spaces, halls of residence and some limited takeaway catering facilities will remain open and we have put in place further measures to support our staff who will be required to keep these facilities open. We will write separately over the coming days to those who are affected.

In line with the Temporary Operating Model (TOM) our core teaching is already online. This will continue for the rest of Term One, so that students can access all that they need to learn to complete their modules successfully, wherever they are in the world. Students have told us how much they value the work you have done to create a high-quality learning experience online, and also that they are able to connect with staff and their peers through face-to-face learning where possible.

This education activity and contact with others is important to good mental health and to retaining a sense of UCL as a community, so we intend to continue with as much face-to-face provision as is feasible, whilst acknowledging that this may be less than we had originally planned for.

We can confirm that:

  • Activities which must be delivered face-to-face for students to achieve their learning outcomes  will continue;
  • Face-to-face education activity should continue where feasible, recognising that the external context of government-imposed national restrictions will inevitably have an impact;
  • Where staff wish to continue to deliver face-to-face sessions, we agree that this should continue;
  • Where face-to-face sessions are no longer feasible, the content will be transferred online so there that there is no adverse impact on the education students receive;
  • Students’ Union UCL will continue to support students with events and activities to build community; these may be online or in-person.

This position has been agreed with our Students’ Union in light of the government move to national restrictions, and we will be emailing students today to let them know what the new restrictions will mean for their education. We will keep it under regular review, with a full review in late November, in line with the government timetable for the national picture.

We will communicate our approach for Terms Two and Three to staff shortly, once it has been approved through our formal governance structure. We will then notify all our students about Terms Two and Three early next week, giving them as much information as possible so that they can make the best decision for them about how and where to study in the New Year.

The implications of these changes will now need to be worked through a local level, and you may have questions about what they will mean for you. We have updated our Coronavirus information pages to reflect the new position. If you are responsible for teaching, you should work with your Head of Department in the first instance to determine how individual sessions will be affected, and how you will ensure that students are kept up-to-date with any necessary changes. Faculty Tutors and Deans will also be able to support these discussions.

The commitment and energy that you are bringing to tackle the impact of coronavirus on our community is impressive.  The next few months are going to test us further and I am truly grateful to you for all your hard work.  

Best wishes,

Professor Michael Arthur
UCL President & Provost