While the majority of students across the UK will not begin their studies until autumn, the University of Nottingham have already begun to welcome a cohort of 150 veterinary students for face-to-face, on-campus learning – but with a few measures preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The measures, which may provide a blueprint for other universities scrambling to make campuses safe for the autumn, include compulsory masks, closed bars, one-way systems, sanitising stations, and a housing system allotting groups of three to ten students to live and study together. Within these household groups, students will not need to socially distance.
A taste of the ‘new normal’?
Students bars remain closed, and the majority of lectures will remain online, with in-person teaching for small groups in practical subjects such as veterinary science. However, despite the limitations on social experience – a necessary trade-off for the safety of students and staff -students appear undaunted by the safety restrictions and hindrances to social experience.
“We were desperate to come back,” says Amy Thornton, one of the trainee vets who has returned to the campus, a sentiment shared by other students.
It will be more of a challenge for the Nottingham universities to welcome back the rest of their 40,000 students for the new academic year – but there are plans in place to stagger arrival times so that students can move in safely.