Lancashire universities return: Students react to face-to-face vs online teaching

Lancashire's university students discuss the pros and cons to returning face-to-face this term.

By Aimee Seddon
Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 2:32 pm

Following the confirmation that Edge Hill and Lancaster University will be returning to full face-to-face teaching in the new term, whilst the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will continue with blended learning, students across Lancashire have reacted to their university's decisions...

Edge Hill student, Maya Gibson, 21, welcomed her university’s return to full face-to-face teaching.

She said: “I’m thrilled because I do a practical course, Film & Television Production, meaning that switching to online during lockdown changed a lot of the content of my teaching massively.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“I’m just happy that I’ll actually get the opportunity to get experience on equipment and get more training, which will (hopefully) get me on par with previous graduates from my course.”

However UCLan’s decision to keep some learning purely online has caused mixed reactions amongst its students, with some welcoming the flexibility online lectures offer, whilst others cast doubts over the value for money.

One UCLan student, Paris Hayes, 20, recognized the benefits of retaining some online provision.

He said: “The blended approach works great for some people, like those with family to care for, and it’s also essential to ensure that if a student tests positive for covid they are still able to access learning. Students deserve to have a full learning experience whilst also being safe.”

Paris, who is going into his second year of BSc Environmental Science has actually been told all of his lecturers will be face-to-face, unlike many of his university peers.

He added: “I know these decisions are made on a case by case basis depending on course size etc, however I am disappointed to see UCLan not make the same move as other universities in the area.”

MA Social Work student at UCLan, Orlagh, from Burnley, says she has “mixed feelings” about her lectures being 50 per cent online next year, because although it reduces the quality of teaching, she does see benefits to the online provision.

Orlagh, 22, who has never attended UCLan in person, despite entering her second year, said: “Although my experience last year wasn’t very good, because we’ve had a year all online, I’m a bit nervous about going in face-to-face.

“It’s going to be awkward because we’ve all seen each other’s faces on Zoom but we don’t actually know each other, so I’m not really looking forward to it, even though it’s going to be better quality.

“I’m happy that we get a bit of both because if it was all face-to-face it’s like throwing us in the deep end, after getting used to being online.”

As a social work student, Orlagh was able to receive a bursary for both her first and second year, leaving her without any debt, however she thinks online teaching is unfair for other student’s financially.

She added: “I think it’s really wrong the fees are exactly the same when it’s all been online because it’s just not the same, that’s not what people were signing up for, and I understand it’s out of the university’s control, but there should have been some compromise.”

A student who does feel financially let down, is Emily, who will be returning to UCLan in October for the second year of her Master’s in healthcare provision, and has been told to expect two days a week face-to-face and three online.

Emily said: “I do a medical course, so it’s very practical, and very content heavy as it’s condensed into two years, which is all very difficult over a computer!

“Also, as I’m a master’s student, I have to self fund as there are no loans available, so I have had to find over 18k in course fees as well as living costs from my savings, and I do not feel I’ve got my money’s worth as I haven’t had any access to the facilities and resources in the medical school.”

However, a union which represents academic staff at UCLan says it prefers the university’s blended approach as they still have concerns about face-to-face delivery.

A spokesman for the University and College’s Union: said: “We note that Management and unions worked well prior to the Covid restrictions being lifted.

“As campus life re-opens, however, we have a number for concerns regarding the health and safety of staff and students and we are in ongoing dialogue with the University management about these in line with the national UCU Covid recovery principle.”