I hope you are keeping well and staying safe during this period.
Over the last few weeks the College has slowly started to reopen its doors, and it has been fantastic to see the first small steps towards some form of ‘normality.’ For the HE team, preparations are well underway for the new academic year.
We appreciate that returning to campus may be a little daunting for many of you and we are incredibly grateful for the support and trust you continue to show us at this time. Our main priority is to get everyone back on campus safely from September, and we continue to work through the complex operational planning to enable us to do so.
I would like to take this opportunity to outline some of our plans and to let you know what to expect.
- A Change in Building. Much of the College’s HE activity will be moving. We will be moving from the main campus to the STEM Innovation Campus based on Western Way. Some disciplines with specialist equipment will remain where they are for now, and we hope these will follow us later. However, much of our HE teaching, administration and student support will now take place in this new adult-only environment. Your timetable will clearly outline where your lectures will be.
- Face-to-face teaching. We are planning to resume face-to-face teaching, with some major adaptations. We will be working to a Week-A/Week-B timetable, with on-site work one week, and digital teaching the next. There are a number of reasons for this. First, it means that we can commit to a rhythm up to Christmas that won’t need to change very much - even if government guidelines change later in the year. If there are new outbreaks, we can pivot to digital learning. If there is a need for increased social distancing, we can manage an alternated timetable. If we are able to return to more face-to-face delivery in the spring, we will be prepared to do so.
- We will be mindful of those who can’t come on to site, and will make sure no-one gets left behind. Any students not able to engage in our face-to-face activities will not miss out, or be academically disadvantaged because of their circumstances. We will stream live sessions and ensure you can access other channels of support.
- Each course will get a bespoke approach to suit the subject and its demands. We won’t adopt a “one-size fits all” that forgets one subject or presumes we all work the same way. We understand that different disciplines operate in different ways, and I have asked Course Leaders to write to their own students closer to the new academic year to outline any changes that will impact your course specifically.
- We will listen. These recent changes are new to all of us and we will be learning together. Indeed, that’s what being part of a higher-educational community means. We’ll be honest when we need to adjust, and we’ll do our best to listen where you think you can teach us. We’ll get there together.
Lastly, I want to say how much we’re looking forward to welcoming you, or welcoming you back, to Degree Studies at West Suffolk College. We’ve got exciting plans to develop our Higher Education work, and I can’t wait to get to know the most important component of them: you, our students.
In the meantime, if you have any queries or concerns about starting or restarting your studies in September, you can contact us on:
We will provide further updates closer to the new academic year.
Thank you once again and best wishes from me and the team,
Dr Christopher Meredith, BA(Hons), MA, PhD, FHEA
Executive Dean of Higher Education