All face-to-face teaching at all centres of the University of Highlands and Islands - including Lews Castle College – will stop from 5pm on Friday 20 March to help reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus within our communities.
"The wellbeing of students, staff and visitors to our many campuses across the university partnership is our priority," says UHI.
All 14 principals of the university and the colleges and research institutions which make up the university partnership met this morning (Monday, 16 March) to coordinate a response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The partnership has subsequently decided to suspend face-to-face teaching at all centres from 5pm on Friday 20 March. This arrangement will continue until further notice.
This suspension will cover all further education, higher education and community programmes.
Students should therefore not attend any classes in person after this Friday until told otherwise. This includes lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and seminars.
Campus buildings, including residences, student support and library services and resource centres, remain open and staff continue to work on site. However, there is currently no overseas travel permitted for students or staff. Only essential course-related travel within the UK will be allowed.
"These are unprecedented times but we're planning carefully to ensure students can continue their studies, including examination arrangements, with as little disruption as possible."
You can keep up to date on the latest UHI developments at www.uhi.ac.uk/coronavirus
Scotland's College sector leaders convened a meeting earlier today (Monday) to discuss what further actions to take to minimise the impact of COVID-19. Colleges Scotland hosted a Video Conference meeting with college principals, senior representatives of Regional Strategic Bodies and institutions’ Coronavirus point of contacts.
Shona Struthers, Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland, said:n“The college sector recognises that this is a fast-moving and unprecedented situation and that the overarching priority is the health and safety of its staff and students. As a sector, we are continuing to closely monitor the latest guidance from public health bodies and the Scottish and UK governments, and working on resilience and business continuity planning to take measured and appropriate precautions to minimise the impact of COVID-19.
“Colleges are planning for a phased reduction of face-to-face learning over the coming days and weeks and to expand online and remote learning, where feasible. Colleges will continue to disseminate information specifically tailored for their own institutions to their staff and students.
“The college sector in Scotland is well known for its diversity and so this measured, carefully managed, and phased approach will be done flexibly with each institution acting according to their own specific circumstances in their regions and campuses. Staff and student requirements will be at the forefront of their approach. Colleges shall continue to work in line with the latest medical advice and with staff teams to minimise the impact of the virus.
“Colleges Scotland, colleges and Regional Strategic Bodies are working closely and regularly with Scottish Government ministers and officials as well as the Scottish Funding Council to listen to their latest advice and provide updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the sector.”
This follows the earlier decision of Glasgow University to move to on-line teaching and avoid public exams.
They stated on Saturday: "We have decided that from Monday 16 March all face-to-face teaching on our campuses in Glasgow and Dumfries will end and that course materials will be placed online.The University will not be closed. Most facilities – including the library - will remain open
All other normal business at the University will continue as planned– but we urge colleagues to prioritise workloads and to consider moving to flexible-working if this is appropriate. Heads of Schools, Directors of Institutes and Executive Directors of University Services will provide detailed advice for each academic area or service in due course.Exams scheduled for the April/May assessment period will not be undertaken in exam halls on campus. "We're committed to ensuring all students can complete their academic programme and graduate or progress on time. Schools will be in touch with their students about teaching provision and students should continue to work on assignments which have already been set."
We'll communicate as soon as possible on how we will assess performance, given that we will NOT be holding sit-down exams.
The situation with COVID-19 is changing very rapidly and we would ask that you regularly check for updates on our coronavirus pages on the University website and on our social media channels.
Visit http://gla.ac.uk/coronavirus for latest advice & FAQs.
Writing from Spain, former advertising sales executive and nurse Amanda Darling told welovestornoway.com this morning: "As many on the island know, my husband Kenny and I emigrated to Spain, partly as a result of the Brexit vote. We feared for the future of our country and thought we would at least try a few years somewhere abroad as it had always been a long-standing dream.
"Here we are in Spain. In total lockdown. Kenny has not been allowed out the house for two weeks, as I as a nurse, decided he was too high risk, and then came the decree from the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
"How did this make us feel? Personally I felt safer, and loved by the Spanish government. meanwhile we sit here and obviously follow UK politics. What do we see? Johnson standing on his hind legs and making ineffectual statements, almost with a Patel-like smirk on his face, knowing the British public are terrified or ignorant, knowing his lack of leadership will force many business to fail, cause mass homelessness, bankruptcy and misery. Not to mention deaths.
"Back here in Spain Sanchez is talking of suspending all utility bills, mortgage repayments, and giving a universal unemployment benefit. In France, President Macron, the same.
"The UK are already on a very dangerous path, this virus has devastated Italy with a good modern and First World health service. The UK NHS has been underfunded for 10 years. It is understaffed and lacks basic hardware. This is a disaster on a scale unseen.
"My advice is: Protect those you love and the weak and infirm. Try to self isolate as much as possible, DO NOT go to pubs and congregate in crowds of more than three. Act now independently as Johnson and his cohorts will do nothing for you or your families."