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A message from your Vice-Chancellor 

Dear students, 

You will have seen my message on Friday. Today, I want to tell you about our plans to support your learning over the spring break and into the summer term, when peak disruption from the virus is expected. As ever, our main purpose is to enable you to maintain your learning, ensuring you can safely progress to next year or complete your course. 

Arrangements for the rest of the spring term (PGT and FE students)
From 17 March 2020 we have significantly extended ‘social distancing’ measures at UAL. This means that UAL workshops and studios will only open to postgraduate students on full-time courses. During this time, libraries will open with restricted access. For Further Education students tutorials will move online for the rest of the spring term.  

Summer term beginning 14 April (all students)
We cannot yet confirm how we will deliver services, including teaching, on campus during the summer term. We will make this decision during the spring break and let you know as soon as possible.

We are planning to move to online and distance delivery for students who are unable to attend UAL next term and we will give you information about how this will work over the spring break. These measures will be reviewed on a daily basis in light of Government guidance. We will keep you informed of any change.

We all need to support one another – staff and students alike – as we work this out and make the changes which are required. We understand that this is a time of high anxiety for you, your friends, families and households. The University is committed to supporting its community through these turbulent times. 

Your health

  1. Throughout this difficult time, we aim to enable you to complete the academic year as safely as possible. Be assured that we are focusing on what needs to happen now. We frequently update the coronavirus section of the UAL website, and we continue to provide advice to protect the health of students and staff at all our sites. We will keep you informed as often as possible.
  2. In line with the latest UK government advice, you should stay at home for 14 days if you or anyone in your home has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough.
  3. Please carefully consider what you can do to adapt your life and studies to this challenging situation using government guidance.

Your learning

  1. Our main purpose is to enable you to maintain your learning, ensuring you can progress to next year or complete your course.
  2. We recognise that many of you will want to be at home with your families over the spring break. Most governments have, or will, put in place travel restrictions, which will prevent students returning to UAL for the summer term. Our urgent task is to adapt the way we teach and assess your remaining units in order to maximise our ability to teach you if you cannot be in London. We aim to be able to deliver teaching to you wherever you may be. No student will be penalised for not being in London. From 17 March 2020 until further notice, no student is required to be present at UAL’s London sites if they do not wish to attend. 
  3. As I write, UAL academic staff are working out how we can deliver each course remotely. The situation at UAL is more complex than at other universities because the range of work extends far beyond just the written, and so we are having to design methods for each unit. This may take some time, so I ask for our continued patience as we adapt courses for remote delivery. Many of your course teams will be working away from campus in accordance with UK government advice on self-isolation and home working, so please accept that communication will change. 
  4. Your course team will communicate the next steps to you over the spring break. 

Your visa

  1. UAL will work closely with international students to help prevent travel restrictions affecting your visa status. The UAL website has more information about this. Please contact the Student Advice Service for individual support. 

Your progression and graduation 

  1. Where we move to online delivery, it is likely that assessment criteria and the final submission will be modified in most cases. Rest assured that this should not affect your ability to progress or graduate. It is our absolute aim to get you to graduate or progress this year, even if it may be later than normal to take account of the new processes.  
  2. We are exploring a range of ways to assess your work remotely in order to support your progression and graduation. We will make the grading of your work consistent with previous years, even if the work submitted is different. Your final degree or stage grades will have exactly the same status as in previous years. We will keep you informed via course teams. 
  3. Degree shows will look very different this year, because the UK Government has banned large-scale public gatherings. We are currently examining what this will mean for every course. We are confident that together we can find some very creative ways to showcase your work and connect you with potential buyers, audiences and employers. We will also consider alternative ways of presenting your work later in the year. 
  4. Very importantly, we have decided to cancel our graduation ceremonies so that we have more weeks in the summer term for final year students in particular to complete their studies. So, please ask your friends and families to cancel their arrangements to attend these events in July. Graduation ceremonies will be rearranged for a future time. We will keep you informed of next steps by email. 

University services, campuses and workshops over the spring break 

  1. Where our facilities remain open, we strongly advise you to follow all Public Health England and UK government advice in avoiding non-essential interaction. Access to most services and operations will be adjusted to enable ‘social distancing’, which will change access and opening times. Academic and student support will continue, but with more online delivery.  
  2. We will restrict access to studios and workshops to only full-time postgraduate students from 20 March 2020. This reflects the fact that student use of studios, workshops and libraries is generally quite limited over the spring vacation. All facilities will be open until 5pm on Friday 20 March so you can collect anything you need. If you cannot come in by then, please contact your programme administrator to arrange collection by you or a friend after that date. We will keep your work safe if you are unable to collect it. If you have handed in work for your assignments, this work should remain on campus so that it can be assessed. 
  3. Our halls of residence remain open, as is our counselling service. Student support services will continue with increased online delivery. Many of our other services and operations will be adjusted to enable ‘social distancing’, which may mean changes of opening times 
  4. For the added safety of everyone within our buildings – students and staff alike – we are asking staff to work remotely where this does not affect frontline services 
  5. We are stopping most internal and external events at UAL. And, with immediate effect, we have cancelled all new overseas student trips and staff travel. 
  6. These changes are intended to enable us to plan how to operate our complex environment safely in the summer term, with different forms of online and distance delivery for students who need this.  
  7. We will be reviewing access to all buildings and services on a daily basis in light of UK Government guidance. We will keep you informed. Your course team will let you know about how these changes affect you. Please check the UAL website before travelling to any of our campuses. 
Lastly, please look after yourself. You can help us by identifying ways you can maintain your learning and creativity over the coming weeks - online with your friends and fellow students, and also with the academic staff from your course. You are some of the most creative and resourceful students in the world, and together we can work things out for the better. This is easier said than done, I know, but I have been inspired so far by the responses of UAL students and staff.

We will be in touch again in the next few days.

Very best wishes
Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor
Images above: Painting and textile installation by Yan Feng, MA Textile Design, Chelsea College of Arts. Photo by David Poultney.

*|2019|* *|University of the Arts London|* All rights reserved.

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