Universities have no excuse for canceling full-time education, and students should complain to a watchdog if they feel inadequate, the education minister said.
Nadhim Zahawi said college students who pay annual fees of £ 9,250 should complain to the Students’ Office for an “explanation” because schools and colleges are taught in person.
Durham University has announced that laboratories and practical courses will continue in person, but all further teaching will take place online, and Queen’s University Belfast has also told students that most lectures, seminars and tutorials are also being moved online.
Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said universities had no excuse to cancel full-time teaching and students should complain to a watchdog if they feel inadequately changed.
Mr Zahawi said he had “expectations” that universities would “provide personal training”, as it turned out, with more than 100 institutions also moving their lectures online.
He told The Sunday Times: “I want to reiterate that I expect universities to provide personal training.
“They have to add, and if students feel they’re not getting value for money, they should deal with the Student Office.”
Mr Zahawi said Britain would have to live with coronavirus for at least another five years, and although the Omicron option is a “big hit”, we need to “regain a world where students get value for money and face-to-face education.”
A spokesman for Universities UK told MailOnline: “Universities in England are doing everything they can to prioritize personal teaching and learning at the beginning of the semester, and continue to work closely with health and government agencies to ensure the safety of students and staff.
“All institutions continue to take measures to manage the virus, including the implementation of Plan B measures, such as the use of facials, regular asymptomatic testing, and have agreed outbreak plans to prepare for any increase in cases – such as supporting students who need to isolate.”
“Universities have strongly supported vaccination, which is well above the national average in the student population. The United Kingdom is in contact with the government to ensure that universities are able to do everything in their power to support the expanded support program announced by the Prime Minister. ”
He said university students who pay annual fees of £ 9,250 should complain to the Student Office for an “explanation” because schools and colleges are taught in person.
A spokesman for King’s College London added: “We are teaching this semester, which starts on Monday, January 17. As stated in our latest update for students, we plan to have personal teaching on campus from this date, as originally planned. ”
Durham University said: “It is our policy to continue to provide high quality personal instruction and learning. We offered a fully personal experience last semester and we firmly plan to have the same date.
“The health and safety of our students, staff and the wider community remains our priority. We want to manage our teaching and learning environment as safely as possible, given the growing rate of infection both locally in the North East of England and nationwide.
“That’s why we’ve introduced temporary Covid checks for the next two weeks to handle the current wave of Omicron infections. This will allow a short transition period for on-arrival testing and assessment of the prevalence and degree of self-isolation required in our community.
“In the first week, all labs and practice classes will continue on the robust robust mitigation measures covered and all further teaching will take place online. In the second week, we will reintroduce personal training in small to medium-sized groups, while teaching larger groups will remain online. We fully expect to return to full personal teaching after this transitional period. “
Mr Zahawi, who is due to present his much-anticipated White Paper on schools in the spring, said he was determined to keep schools open and said that “vaccines are still the best intervention”.
This is due to the fact that more than a third of schools lack at least one in 10 teachers due to Covid disease, as some union students refuse to wear classroom drapes or take tests.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said schools have so far mostly handled staff absences well, but that school heads warned of more difficult times.
A union survey found that one in three school leaders had more than 10% absent staff due to the growing number of Omicron cases.
The majority (95%) have at least some pupils on leave at the beginning of the semester for Covid-related reasons – and 29% said more than 10% of their students were absent.
Mr Zahawi acknowledged that absenteeism in schools was likely to increase in the coming weeks, amid warnings that principals should prepare for every fourth absenteeism.
Mr Whiteman told BBC Radio Four’s Today: “Our members are doing everything in their power to keep the show on track and to keep the personal training going.
Mandatory face wear in schools and colleges was abolished in May. Some feared that masks interrupted learning, but others warned that they were necessary to control outbreaks. Pictured: children with masks at Outwood Academy in Doncaster, Yorkshire in March
“Our survey of 2,000 school leaders this week tells us that more than a third currently have 10% or more of their employees away for Covid’s reasons, but they are doing relatively well, with only 7% having to collapse classes. to larger classes and only 4% send children home.
“This concerns an absence rate of around 10% and the government warns everyone to expect an absence rate of around 25%, so it will be incredibly difficult.
“But again, we can see school leaders and their teams step up and take up the challenge.”
The findings came as students returned to class after the Christmas holidays, with new advice for high school and university students in England to wear face masks in classrooms.
However, according to another school association, many children refuse to do so.
Initial anti-coronavirus measures in English schools helped keep 1.1 million children imprisoned at home during the worst days of the Covid pandemic.
Ministers said dropping the drapes would improve teacher-pupil interaction, while ending the bubbles would alleviate disruption to education.