Even in-person teaching is on Zoom; here’s how students reacted

Chem Eng students made coffee posters, and many have yet to see a member of staff.

Students left disappointed and concerned for safety after in-person teaching turns out to be Zoom lectures watched from a classroom.

This follows numerous announcements made by the University over summer, asking students to return to Bath and promising four hours of face-to-face teaching.

The guarantee of four hour teaching was announced by the University of Bath in July, while in-person teaching in other universities remained uncertain. 

At the time, student opinion was split between looking forward to having face-to-face classes and being concerned about the move to online learning. This week was the first time the University has had on-campus teaching since March, and results have been mixed. 

Second year Accounting and Finance student, Sam, was informed that he would have “four hours of in-person learning on a Tuesday morning’’. When they arrived, Sam and his coursemates discovered last week that this learning consisted of “sitting in a room and watching an online lecture about placements”. 

“I felt that I was risking my own safety and the safety of those around me by taking public transport onto campus,” he explained. “I was particularly disappointed as the ‘Enhancing Student Capabilities’ teaching I received was a generic career-skills session aimed at students who are doing a placement year on my course, which I don’t intend to do, making the online videos redundant for people in my position.”

Second year Chemical Engineering students, Hannah and Haris, had their first IPT sessions on Thursday afternoon. Similarly to Sam, they were both told to go onto campus and when they arrived, were told all of their work was to be done online. They felt the teaching had little relevance to their degree as their task for four hours was to create a poster about coffee, an activity that Haris said had “nothing to do with science or my course’’. Hannah said that she thought that her IPT session ‘’was a waste of time and money’’ and was discouraged by her department’s efforts because she had been looking forward to returning to campus. 

The department for Politics, Languages and International Studies also faced backlash from their students. Second year students on the Politics and International Relations course were told that they would not have four hours of IPT in the first week of term, even though other university departments carried out the allotted in-person teaching. Instead of the allocated four hours of IPT, Politics students had an hour long talk about placements online. An anonymous student on the course states that he felt “let down by the department’’ but that he was “not surprised that IPT hasn’t gone according to plan.”

Annie Willingham, Education Officer, said: “We have reached out to members of our Student Academic Advisory Panel, Student Experience Advisory Panel, Liberation Groups, International and Postgraduate Communities, PAL leaders and Peer Mentors to gather the view of the wider student community on their views of IPT to feed into the discussions at the University Resilient Curriculum Committee and University Senate meetings taking place this week. A huge thanks to everyone for contributing thoughts. Our role will be lobbying the University to do whatever it can to mitigate against these issues to ensure all students feel they are safe, happy and are experiencing an effective and equitable learning experience.”

Professor Peter Lambert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) said: “The vast majority of feedback we have had so far from students has been positive, but inevitably there have been some challenges given the scale of the changes we’ve made to deliver in-person teaching in a Covid-secure environment.

“We are learning quickly from the first few days of this new educational approach, building on some of the feedback we have received from students and staff and adapting our approach where improvements can be made. We are also working with the SU to identify and address issues. We are all working on this together and we are all learning together, taking action quickly and decisively to make sure the experience for our students is the best it can be.”  

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