Durham University plan for more online teaching criticised

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Durham UniversityImage source, Durham University
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Durham University says it is "developing options for the future"

A union has criticised a university's "radical" plan to reduce the amount of face to face teaching it will offer.

Durham University has introduced online courses amid the pandemic but a leaked document suggests hundreds of modules could remain online permanently.

A document seen by the student newspaper suggests the university is considering sweeping changes.

The university said it was looking at options to ensure the "highest possible quality of educational offer".

The plans seen by Palatinate, the student newspaper, seek to "invert Durham's traditional educational model", which revolves around residential study, replacing it with one that puts "online resources at the core enabling us to provide education at a distance".

There would reportedly be a further roll-out of online modules after the pandemic, with the aim of at least 500 modules being fully online by the end of the 2020-21 academic year, with a further roll-out the following year.

The University and College Union (UCU) has called for consultation with staff and students over any changes.

'Unable to travel'

General secretary Jo Grady said: 'The global pandemic is not an opportunity for universities to try to swiftly implement radical change.

"Changes to our higher education system should be led by staff from the ground up, whether they are necessitated by Covid-19 or not."

Prof Antony Long, the university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, said: "None of us yet know what the 2020-21 academic year will look like, but we must plan now so that when we do, we have options properly developed and ready to implement.

"Anticipating that some and perhaps a significant number of students will not be able to travel to and live in Durham [then], we are preparing an online, distance learning programme that is both inclusive and high-quality.

"We are extremely grateful for how our staff have responded to the crisis and we welcome their input, as well as that from trade union and student representatives, as we seek to take these proposals forward."

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