I hope you are all staying well and keeping 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.’ In the HE Team, preparations are well underway for the new academic year in September.
We appreciate that returning to campus may be a little daunting for many of you; we are incredibly grateful for the support and trust you continue to show us as we work through the complex operational planning required to get everyone back on campus safely from September.
I would like to take this opportunity to outline some of those plans and 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 ‘FE’ site to a new facility (the STEM building), on Western Way. Some disciplines with specialist equipment will remain where they are for now, and we hope these will follow us later. But much of our HE teaching, administration and student support will now be happening in an adult-only environment on that site. Your timetable will make it clear 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 few 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-heavy learning. If there is a need to for increased social distancing, we can manage an alternated timetable across the estate. If we can return to more physical delivery in the spring, we’ll be that-bit more ready to do so.
- We’re going to be mindful of those who can’t come on to site, and make sure no-one gets left behind. Anyone not able to engage in our in-person activities will not miss out or be academically disadvantaged because of their circumstances, their need/wish to shield, or because of the additional pressures on homelife because of the recent disruptions. We’ll 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’ll work with the grain of how different disciplines function, and I’ve 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.
5) We will listen. We’re all new to some of these recent changes, so 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