As you will be aware, the UK Government is changing its alert level from three to four across the UK.

Earlier in the summer, we had tried to set out an indication of what changing alert levels would mean for our operations, acknowledging that we would have to be agile and respond to evolving government advice.

Since then, the Government issued specific advice for Higher Education earlier this month on reopening buildings and campuses which sets out tiers of operation for HE providers.

These are:

  • Tier 1 (default position): HE providers are expected to provide blended learning, with face-to-face tuition, following the provisions of this guidance, and public health guidance, including, for example, the appropriate use of face coverings

  • Tier 2 (fallback position): HE providers should move to an increased level of online learning where possible. Providers should prioritise the continuation of face-to-face provision based on their own risk assessment. We expect that, in the majority of cases, this will be for those courses where it is most beneficial (for example, clinical or practical learning and research)

  • Tier 3 (where stricter measures are needed): HE providers should increase the level of online learning to retain face-to-face provision for priority courses (for example, clinical and medical courses), and in as limited a number of situations as possible. Students should follow government guidance published as part of any additional restrictions applied locally, including where this says that students should remain in their current accommodation and not return their family home or other residential accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through travel. In these circumstances, providers should support students to do so by keeping services for students, such as university libraries and catering facilities, open

  • Tier 4 (last resort): We expect the majority of provision to be online, with buildings open for essential workers only. This should include the continuation of essential research

We will keep our community updated as we receive more information from the UK Government.