Will West Country universities open in September despite coronavirus lockdown?

Many universities across the West Country say they are "committed" to reopening their doors for students in September, despite potential coronavirus restrictions.

The University of Bristol recently became the second in the country to move lectures online for the next academic year.

But, it is a move many others say they will not be following.

The University of Plymouth, and the University of Exeter both say they will be doing all they can to allow new and returning students on to campus and into lectures.


The University of Bath say they "intend to be open for the next academic year with students on campus".

It adds it will be doing "everything possible" to welcome new and returning students.

We are developing a blended approach, with in-person teaching focussed on personal tutoring, laboratory work, peer-to-peer learning, design tutoring and smaller group learning, such as seminars. To allow for this, and for potential social distancing rules, preparations will be made to deliver innovative and high-quality large scale teaching, such as lectures and large workshops, digitally.

The University of Bath

The University adds it could "phase the start dates" for courses to give students as much flexibility as possible while adhering to guidelines.

Credit: The University of Bristol

All lectures will be moved online for the 2020/2021 academic year. Student supervisions, seminars and tutorials will be taught on campus in small groups.

In a statement the university's Vice-Chancellor and President confirmed the measures which will work alongside social distancing guidelines as long as they remain in place.

Despite questions regarding a change in tuition fees, the university confirms they will remain unchanged.

Credit: The University of Exeter

The University says it is currently finalising plans for the start of the academic year, with the "health and safety of everyone on campus the overriding priority".

It plans to adopt a "blended learning approach to combine face-to-face teaching with guided online learning".

We are committed to doing everything possible to welcome new and returning students to the University campuses for the start of the autumn term.

The University of Exeter

Campuses will remain open while it is safe to do so - and will be adapted for social distancing.

Credit: Falmouth University

Falmouth University says it has no plans to change the term start date and "looks forward to welcoming back current students in September".

It is doing "everything we can to limit the potential impact of the Coronavirus pandemic", and added it was continually assessing advice provided to the public and Higher Education providers.

Credit: University of Gloucestershire

The University of Gloucestershire says it intends to open for students in September - but adds it expects, "some of the first semester will require a combination of online teaching and on-campus activity​."

The University hopes to be able to offer a combination of small group teaching and tutorials, as well as managed access to our specialist labs and facilities for students in small groups. We will move to full face-to-face teaching on-campus as soon as restrictions allow. Our priority is to keep our students, our staff and our community safe. So we will only do that in line with Government guidance.

University of Gloucestershire

It says a priority for the coming weeks will be to "work out how we can best re-open some of our buildings for those students who need to get access to specialist facilities over the next couple of months, particularly where their academic year continues over the summer."

Credit: Plymouth Marjon University

Marjon say it plans to "return to campus to start teaching at the usual time in September".

It says while life will be different it is "committed to your experience being both safe and fun".

We’ll naturally have to teach in a different way, and we’re planning for a mix of face-to-face teaching and online teaching.

Professor Rob Warner, Vice-Chancellor
Credit: University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth says its campus will "be operational, with our students able to participate in lectures, face-to-face tutorials and seminars".

Options for remote access or online and blended learning will also be available alongside face-to-face learning.

It added that, there would be access to laboratory and studios, fieldwork, placements, the library, and all student support and welfare services.

Safety will come first and we will follow government advice to ensure a ‘Covid secure’ working and learning environment. We know that we all may need to adapt if Covid conditions change, but our priority is to offer a great teaching, learning and social experience for all our students who we look forward to being able to welcome in September.

University of Plymouth
Credit: UWE Bristol

UWE say it will be introducing a new digital programme in September, aimed at ensuring students are "ready for the start of teaching in October".

The personalised support - known as Teaching Block Zero - will enable students to build up their digital skills and knowledge.

In light of the current situation with coronavirus, this year we are introducing Teaching Block Zero from September - a four-week, digital-first programme that will focus on providing students with personalised support, making sure they are ready for start of teaching in October.


It added that - government guidance dependent - it hoped to welcome students on to campus accommodation from October, and was keen, "for our new students to have the full student experience on campus as much as possible."

UWE says it is currently planning how it can facilitate face-to-face teaching from October and provide students with opportunities to use labs, studios and other facilities.