Coronavirus information and guidance

Teaching in 2021-2022

Last updated: 2 July 2021, 5.52pm

The Scottish Government has announced that, subject to a number of conditions, it will end all major Covid restrictions, including requirements for physical distancing, from 9 August 2021.

As a country, we are moving from a strategy of trying to suppress virus transmission at all costs, to one of managing and reducing the harms which Covid causes – the physical, mental, social, and economic. 

This long awaited but cautious reopening of our society represents a significant change in national strategy. 

It is founded on the expectation that all people aged 18 and over in Scotland, including our students, will have been offered the opportunity to be fully vaccinated against Covid by autumn, and that there is now clear evidence that vaccines are breaking the link between the virus, serious illness, and hospitalisations.

In these hopeful new circumstances, our goal for 2021/22 is to provide our students with traditional, safe, in-person teaching in St Andrews, and a high-quality online experience for any students studying remotely.

We recognise that some students, and our staff, may be apprehensive about a return to the classroom after such a lengthy period of restrictions, which is why we will approach Semester 1 as a term of transition.

We will configure our teaching spaces, as much as possible, in ways which allow people to practise voluntary physical distancing if they wish to do so.

We will ensure that any student unable to travel to St Andrews will be able to study remotely.

We will ensure that every module offered by the University (regardless of the size of the module membership) has regular scheduled in-person teaching in St Andrews.

We will plan for our teaching to be safe, flexible and resilient, cognisant of the effects of any international travel restrictions, and able to respond to any unpredictable local events (such as unexpected flare-ups of the virus or regional lockdowns)

Large lectures (35 people and over) will remain mostly online for first semester and all will be recorded. This is vital for students studying remotely, given that international travel restrictions are to remain in place for some time. The option to study entirely online will continue to be available to all who want it.

We will support any student who has not been vaccinated by the time of their arrival in St Andrews to book a vaccination as part of the of the UK national vaccination programme run by the National Health Service.

Just as last year, we will be able to deliver a very strong student experience.

We hope the following questions and answers will address the key questions of our students and their families:

Will the University continue to offer dual-mode teaching (i.e., offer in-person teaching and online delivery)?

Yes! We will have to be ready to provide teaching both for students who will be present for in-person teaching and for those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot join us in the classroom and will therefore have to be taught online across all modules and in both semesters.

Will the University continue to offer hybrid teaching (i.e., teaching both delivery cohorts simultaneously)?

We will try to minimise as much as we can the number of teaching experiences that involve, at the same time, in-person students and students engaging online. We intend that the vast majority of our students will be present in St Andrews, but where hybrid teaching is still necessary, we will make every effort for this to take place in the rooms best suited for that purpose (in terms of size, shape and upgraded equipment).

Are we at risk of further lockdowns or new restrictions in the future? How might this affect teaching?

The Scottish Government has said that all major Covid restrictions will be removed on 9 August, provided the progress of the vaccination programme is maintained, and serious illness and hospitalisations with Covid do not exceed forecasts. As we have demonstrated over the last 15 months, we are able to deliver our teaching successfully within any governmental restrictions that may be put in place.  We remain prepared to deliver our teaching under all circumstances. Regardless of what happens after 9 August, our students will still be able to meet essential learning outcomes.

Will teaching/lectures continue to be recorded?

Yes, teaching will continue to be recorded in order to deliver dual-mode teaching and to provide resilience to changes in Scottish Government Guidance. We must also offer recorded and re-watchable content to support students with disabilities who tell us that they are benefitting enormously from recorded teaching material.

Will our teaching rooms and laboratories continue to be restricted by Covid-safe protocols?

Even after the Government lifts legal restrictions, the University will ensure that every teaching setting will continue to be governed by careful risk assessments. We will seek to ensure that our classrooms are configured in a way which allows students to practise voluntary physical distancing if they wish to do so.

Will teaching spaces be risk assessed in line with applicable new protocols (virus variants, enhanced ventilation, etc)? And, if so, when?

Yes. All teaching and workspaces will be fully risk-assessed in line with any remaining Government guidelines or advice in place.

When will I receive my timetable?

We are currently preparing our timetable in line with the projected Scottish Government Guidance.  As usual, students will meet their adviser of studies in Orientation week to select their chosen modules and they will be able to access their timetable at that time.  We have put in place a plan which maximises in person teaching in line with the projected Scottish Government guidance.  If the guidance changes, we have plans to re-schedule the timetable; we will do this as quickly as possible whilst ensuring that teaching continues.

Will field trips be allowed to go ahead?

At this point it is uncertain if field trips will be able to ahead, particularly where international travel is involved. We have asked our Schools to make plans with guarded optimism, to look for local alternatives, and to prepare well-developed back-up plans that deliver an excellent educational experience.

What will happen with study abroad places and exchanges next academic year?

Our Global Office is taking a nuanced approach to managing participation, given the range of destinations and timings of our programmes. Our first concern is for the safety and wellbeing of all our students and we are closely monitoring the situation across our partner destinations.  There are many factors outside of our control, such as government travel and quarantine restrictions. The cancellation of programmes by our partners is also a possibility. The Global Office will keep Schools and students informed regarding travel and partner updates.  Each programme will be reviewed two months ahead of its start date to determine at that point whether it is safe to go ahead. We hope that this gives students some reassurance and enables them to plan, while ensuring decisions are informed and relevant for the context.

What kind of Library support/provision can we expect (including Special Collections)?

From September, the Library will offer some of the services that had to close in March 2020, including reopening our suite of buildings, and we will follow Scottish Government advice for the safe delivery of research library services. As an international community, we will continue to prioritise access to our digital resources and will ensure that those who are unable to join us in St Andrews in person will be able to access the resources they need for their studies. For those in St Andrews, we will be able to maximise available space to study, while ensuring we provide options for those who wish to study in a socially-distanced environment. We look forward to offering more opportunities for researcher and student access to all of our physical collections.

Will students be allowed to decide freely whether (and from when) to study in-person or remotely?

Yes. In the AY 2021/22 students will be given a free choice whether or not to engage with in-person teaching, with no need to produce evidence. Exceptions to this general rule are programmes/modules where in-person teaching is essential to meeting core learning outcomes or external accreditation criteria. Students will be able to join us for in-person teaching at the start of the semester or at two further fixed entry points (the beginning of weeks 4 or 7). Once a student has opted for in-person teaching, they can only opt out of it again for good reasons.

Will any exams be delivered in-person? 

We expect that we will still have to teach and assess split cohorts in 2021/22, with some of our students not physically present in St Andrews but engaging remotely. In light of this, traditional in-person exams will not be available in 2021/22. We hope that the new digital exam tool in place by then will deliver most, if not all, of the advantages of in-person exams.

Will SP-coding and the Honours entry threshold reduction continue?

Covid-related SP-coding will NOT continue; extenuating circumstances in individual cases will be handled in line with the updated S-coding policy; the changes to Honours Entry regulations will remain in place for another year as the students entering Honours in 2021 or 2022 will do so after having most or some of their subhonours semesters affected by Covid-related disruption.

Will GOYO continue? 

Yes, we will recruit a cohort of students to GOYO this year.

Will orientation week be in-person or online? 

Orientation Week will be delivered in a blended format, with some content delivered online and some in person.

Will Covid testing of students continue? 

ScotGov have confirmed that LFD testing will continue to be available in 2021/22 through home testing kits; regular testing will continue to be essential if we are to keep levels of Covid in the university low.