University Principal Sally Mapstone wrote to students and staff today to inform them that, with few exceptions, face to face teaching will not resume this semester and they should not return to St Andrews. However, independent reports from residents suggest that many students are already back in the town – in line with reports form around the UK that 30-50% of students have returned.
The full text of her letter is given below.
10th February 2021
Dear Students and Colleagues,
I am writing to let you know that we have taken the difficult decision that teaching and assessment for the majority of our students must remain online only for the rest of this semester.
There will be a small number of exceptions to this: medical students, some postgraduate taught and undergraduate science students, and some postgraduate research students. Full details of these exceptions, the modules involved, our teaching arrangements for the rest of semester, and how they apply to students are published online today. Please read this information carefully.
I know that this will be a big disappointment to many students, and staff, who had hoped to return to St Andrews and our classrooms in this academic year. This is especially true for many of our final year students who will be unable to conclude their studies in St Andrews in the way we had all hoped.
We are acting now, however, to provide you with as much certainty as early as we can, having listened carefully to student leaders and our staff, and considered all the evidence available to us on the predicted course of the pandemic.
It is prudent to anticipate that significant restrictions on travel and other aspects of public life will remain in place in Scotland through the Spring. Even if some of those are eased by the Scottish Government as Covid infections fall, we do not believe it will be to a degree sufficient to allow us to bring large numbers of students back to St Andrews and provide comprehensive in-person education.
I am so sorry that our University and the town will be missing so many of you in the remaining weeks of teaching, and that your university experience continues to be disrupted by the pandemic and its attendant restrictions on all our lives.
We are taking this step, however, in the certainty that we can fulfil all students’ learning outcomes, and continue to provide our hallmark high quality learning, contact, and support online.
Certainty also offers more stability, and allows us to concentrate fully on supporting all of you – students and staff – through the remainder of semester, whether you are currently in St Andrews or not.
As difficult and disrupted as this academic year has been and will continue to be, we are not too far from the turn of the home straight.
Vaccines and our collective adherence to simple prevention mean we are finding a route out of the pandemic, and the promise of an eventual return to most of those things we were taking for granted just one year ago.
I will write to you all again soon about our planning for Graduation, and the steps we can take to support you all through the remainder of this semester.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor