Live lectures with full capacity start again at Welsh universities

By Abbie Wightwick

Three Welsh universities have confirmed they are running some large, live lectures again.

Cardiff, Wrexham Glyndwr and the University of Wales Trinity St David universities said they are running the lectures safely in modern, well ventilated halls.

A spokesperson for Wrexham Glyndwr University said: "“There are live lectures taking place at the university, in large, well-ventilated lecture rooms. There is no need currently to place limits on capacity.

"All of the university’s teaching spaces that are to be used this semester will be well-ventilated, and all students are receiving a minimum of one face-to-face teaching session per week.”

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Wrexham Glyndwr University (RICHARD STANTON.)

A spokesman for Cardiff University said some large, live lectures may take place this term and it was "expected" that all lectures would be live and all teaching spaces used from next term, if the situation with Covid allows.

Universities have not held large live lectures since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Instead they have been moved online.

Students have complained about the lack of face to face teaching but universities said they must follow Welsh Government Covid guidelines.

Asked about plans a Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We will be delivering in-person teaching on campus (this term). This will include lectures, tutorials, seminars, lab work and workshops.

“Delivery of some lectures will continue to be online although, where safety measures allow, larger lectures may take place as is the case in our School of Journalism, media and culture and others.

“We will continue to follow Welsh Government guidance, and keep our teaching methods under constant review.

“We expect to be making full use of our teaching spaces by January 2022. The position remains under review and subject to Welsh Government alerts."

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David said: “The university has introduced in-person lectures across its campuses.

“The university’s Covid safety measures are in line with Welsh Government guidelines and sector guidance.

“The capacity for each lecture is determined by the size of the rooms and the nature of the activity. Generally our lecture rooms are configured to allow for two metre social distancing.

“Our small class sizes assists us in this aim and last year helped us to provide students with access to our specialist facilities including workshops, studios and laboratories.”

This is what other universities are doing

While some face to face teaching is taking place this term at universities across Wales, large live lectures remain online for most and other universities said they couldn’t say when live lectures might resume.

Swansea University

Swansea University Bay Campus (Swansea University)

"We are introducing a managed approach to learning and teaching for the start of the academic year.

"Large lectures will be delivered online, while sessions such as practicals, seminars and laboratory work will be taking place in person."

Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University (Matthew Horwood)

"As part of our extensive preparations for this new academic year, all our activities have been subject to a comprehensive risk assessment.

"As part of those steps, no lecture theatres will operate at full capacity; they will be restricted to capacities determined by our risk assessment process, and subject to a variety of mitigations which are identified."

University of South Wales

University Of South Wales Atrium building, Cardiff (Google)

“All of our learning and teaching spaces, including classrooms, labs, and lecture theatres, are in use this term. We are following the principle of teaching in groups of 30 students, or where we have larger cohorts, they are taught in multiple groups of six, with two metres between each group of six, up to the capacity of the room.

"We still have learning and teaching with large groups of students, but there are two metres between each group of six in the larger rooms / lecture theatres (where there are more than 30 students), so in those cases they won’t be the same capacity as before the pandemic."

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Metropolitan University (MAI)

"We have sought to work within the current Welsh Government guidance and has taken feedback from students and the students’ union to plan and design our teaching for the 2021/22 academic year.

"Students will largely be taught face to face in non-socially distanced groups of up to 36 students, in interactive sessions designed to provide the most appropriate learning and teaching environments and practices to support our applied curriculum.

"There will be some exceptions to this – for example, in lab sessions where the use of PPE allows a greater number of students to come together safely.

"Over the last 16 months we have invested heavily in additional mechanical ventilation, with over £250,000 spent across both our Llandaff and Cyncoed campuses, with spending prioritised in laboratories, specialist teaching and social learning areas where opening windows may not be the most appropriate solution."

Bangor University

Students at the Ffriddoedd halls at Bangor University before lockdown (Bangor University)

"Over the past months, huge efforts have been expended to assess and enhance ventilation arrangements in over 300 lecture and seminar rooms across the University, with ventilation arrangements improved where necessary or high efficiency air filtration units installed.

"In addition to these measures, to enable social distancing, at present our teaching rooms are used at reduced capacity (between 50-65% dependent on room structure), with over 82% of our lectures/seminars and practicals fully in-person.

"Whilst we hope to increase this figure, the ongoing influence of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the associated uncertainties, require us to take a dynamic approach to our teaching and learning delivery and these important logistics."

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