Academic Year 20/21 – Communication to applicants

Published on 29 May 2020

Latest applicant announcement from Professor Blair Grubb, Vice Principal Education

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Dear Applicant

We have now reached the end of the current academic year, and our students have completed their exams and assessments online. I imagine many of you will have also had to adapt to online learning and assessment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and I hope your hard work is rewarded.

Planning for the new Academic Year 2020/21

We are planning to re-open our campuses in good time for the start of the next academic year, with on-campus teaching in Semester 1 to start from Monday 5 October 2020.

We encourage all our new students who are able to travel to make plans to arrive in good time to begin your studies. You may have read that the UK Government recently announced that new rules will be in place from 8 June 2020 that anyone entering the UK will have to self-isolate at their UK home address for the first 14 days after they arrive. You can read more on the UK Government website. These rules will remain under review and may change again by September. We will share more information in the next couple of months about how we will support students who may have to self-isolate.

We expect that the UK and Scottish governments will continue with the requirement for some social distancing in the new academic year. We will continue to monitor the wider situation and how it may affect us and you, providing updates as things change.

We have sent this email to all our applicants, including those who have applied for courses which start in Semester 2 of 2020/21. We very much look forward to welcoming you to the University, and in preparation for the new academic year we are planning some changes to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff and visitors.

We explain in more detail below how we will do this, but in summary:

  1. The University takes your health and safety very seriously. We have established a high-level team led by Dr Jim McGeorge, University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, to oversee arrangements for the health and safety of students, staff and visitors to our campuses and associated facilities (for example, our accommodation and sports facilities), and do so in a way that follows the most up-to-date government advice. This team will set and monitor rules around social distancing, the use of face masks and personal protective equipment, regular cleaning rotas, and management of any Covid-19 related issues.
  2. We plan to offer courses wherever possible in a blended mixture of online and face-to-face teaching, to allow for the greatest flexibility in student learning depending on what public health guidelines are in place.
  3. As government advice allows we will increase the level of campus-based face-to-face teaching as quickly and as far as possible.
  4. We will ensure that clear plans are in place and that guidance is published covering all these matters before you arrive in the autumn.

Health, well-being and safety on campus

On-campus teaching in Semester 1 will start on Monday 5 October, with Welcome Week beginning from Saturday 26 September. As an institution renowned for our student experience and teaching quality, you can be assured that we are taking all steps we can to ensure we maintain our high standards, whether it is face-to-face teaching in a room or through digital platforms.

We plan to re-open the physical campuses gradually over the summer with management of social distancing, in line with Scottish Government guidance. This will require all students and staff to follow new guidance about how we study, work and move through the University buildings to ensure everyone’s safety.

As part of the usual Welcome activities we will inform all new students about how to register with a local doctor. We will send you more information about how to do this nearer the time.

International applicants

Access to health care in the UK (from doctors, our own student health service and hospital treatment if required) is free for international students once you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £300 per year for you plus for any dependants). This means you (and any dependants) will qualify for free National Health Service (NHS) treatment, including any treatment related to Covid-19, from the beginning of your stay until one month after your course ends or until your biometric residence permit expires. You will pay this when you make your visa application. The UKCISA website gives more detailed information.

EU applicants

Access to health care in the UK (from doctors, our own student health service and hospital treatment if required) is guaranteed for EEA, EU and Swiss nationals who enter the UK before 31 December 2020 as long as you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Arrangements for students entering the UK from 2021 have still to be confirmed. The UKCISA website gives more detailed information.

All applicants

For applicants who join us in Semester 1, our plan is that you will arrive on campus from Saturday 26 September onwards to access University accommodation, face-to-face teaching, libraries, learning support and other services. We will carefully manage our student accommodation to ensure that you are as safe as possible while living there. Our student support services will also be available, either in person or online, as they have been over the past few months.

What happens if you cannot arrive by Monday 5 October?

You should make every reasonable effort to arrive for the start of Semester 1. However, if you:

  • are unable to travel and arrive for the start of Semester 1,
  • belong to a vulnerable group,
  • have other extenuating circumstances which are agreed by your academic School, or
  • have to self-isolate for 14 days,

then you will be able initially to study online and join us on campus later, if your situation allows it.

Our intention is that no matter where in the world you are, you will still be able to access your course and take part in high quality learning experiences. If travel restrictions are in place, we will take account of those and stay engaged with you.

How will we teach you?

Social distancing will change the way we have to deliver classes, and it is most likely we will adopt a blended approach that combines face-to-face and online learning, depending on the public health advice in place at the time.

We may have to reduce some types of teaching, for example large-scale lectures, as the capacity of many of our teaching spaces may be reduced as a result of social distancing rules. In those cases where we simply cannot accommodate the normal number of people in one space then teaching materials, including audio and video, will be recorded to a high quality and made available to you through our Virtual Learning Environment, called My Dundee.

We will offer as much as possible of our small group teaching, plus practical, studio, clinical skills and laboratory teaching, in a face-to-face format with appropriate social distancing in place. This will be heavily dependent on individual subjects/disciplines and programme structure, and we will provide more information about this during the summer.

We will carefully manage access to library and learning resources by increasing the level of online provision but by also making library access available within the social distancing rules in place at that time.

Keeping updated

We will continue to update you about our plans for Semester 1 of 2020/21. Over the summer there are likely to be changes to the guidance from governments on travel, self-isolation after entering the UK, social distancing, and how we as a University can operate. You can follow the latest updates from the Scottish Government here.

Please remain alert for email updates from us over the next few months and continue to check our dedicated webpages for applicants.

I look forward to seeing you on campus in the future.

Professor Blair Grubb

Vice-Principal Education


Press Office, University of Dundee

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