Coronavirus: information and updates

Remote learning at university during coronavirus

Most universities have web pages about any changes following coronavirus. They may also have frequently asked questions (FAQs) from other students that answer your questions or concerns.

Universities should also send out information about changes to your course. This will likely include:

  • how your course will be organised, such as remote learning, online lectures and seminars, practical classes, placements and using specialist equipment
  • what you need to do, like wearing masks on campus
  • which days you can go to campus

You may also get information on how you can use campus services, like the library.

Using library and campus services during coronavirus

Check your email or post for this information before the term starts. Speak to your university disability team if you’re worried about going to campus. Universities should agree reasonable adjustments with you if you cannot go in. For example, because of a medical condition.

Reasonable adjustments at university and college

Getting support with remote learning

Disabled students are legally entitled to reasonable adjustments and educational support. This includes help with remote learning.

Contact your disability team about any concerns you have about:

  • technology, like software not working with your equipment
  • equipment, like needing a laptop or printer
  • organisation and motivation from home, like managing distractions or having a quiet place to work
  • learning formats and any barriers you have, like anxiety on Zoom lectures or getting to contribute in online seminars and discussion groups
  • accessing practical classes, specialist equipment and placements

New students

Register with the team as soon as possible. Staff are still working from home so you do not have to wait until the term starts. They may assess your needs over the phone or using video chat. This will help them understand what adjustments you need to study.

They may recommend you apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). The team can help you with your application. You do not need new diagnosis evidence for DSAs due to coronavirus.

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

Returning students

If you’re a returning student, tell the disability team and your personal tutor about challenges you’ve had with remote learning. For example:

  • lecturers not pinning interpreters to the Zoom call
  • having to do too many things at once, such as a doing a survey and listening to the lecturer
  • internet speed and quality
  • microphone quality and the acoustics of the room the lecturer or students are using

Find out what support or equipment they can recommend for remote learning. If you get Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs), ask your disability team how to get your needs assessment updated to include online learning support.

Asking for adjustments

The disability team should talk to you about your needs and what they recommend. But you can also ask for adjustments to help with remote learning. For example:

  • access to recorded lectures if you cannot join the live class
  • using automatic captions on video chat. For example, using Microsoft Teams live captions and Zoom closed captions instead of PowerPoint.
  • having notetakers and BSL interpreters on online webinars. And making sure lecturers know to add them.
  • training to use video, audio, online whiteboards, polls, class chats or discussion rooms. This might include help using 2 programmes at once.
  • getting materials like transcripts and presentation slides with enough time before the lecture
  • having library books delivered to your home if you cannot go to campus

The disability team can also make sure lecturers prepare and understand how to meet your needs.

If lecturers are not making the adjustments the disability team asked for, speak to your lecturer or personal tutor about your needs. If you’re still struggling to get the support, you can ask your student union for help.

How to contact your disability team

You can contact the disability team by phone, video chat or email. Their contact details will be on your university or college website. The name of the team or service can vary. Search for:

  • disability and dyslexia support
  • disability learning support
  • disability advisory service or disability services
  • student wellbeing service

Your disability team is there to help you get adjustments and support so it’s important to tell them what you need help with.

You can also contact your student union for support. 

Changes to exams and coursework

Many universities and colleges have changed their processes for coursework extensions and exams. Changes will depend on your university or college but may include thing like:

  • applying for up to 14 days extension without needing evidence
  • 3-hour exams becoming 4 hours in case of technical difficulties
  • 48 or 72 hours to download, answer and submit the exam questions
  • 7-day essays which are marked like an exam paper

As a disabled student you may be able to get more support with exams, such as:

  • questions in audio format or using video chat with a reader
  • having a prompter for students who need a reminder to move to the next question. This might be by phone, automatic alarm or in person on video chat.
  • using a scribe through video chat
  • audio recording your answers and submitting to the university or college to transcribe

Remote learning with other students

Talk to other students if you’re:

  • worried about remote learning
  • struggling to study at home

You could try looking for:

  • online student forums or communities, including disability groups
  • social groups and study groups through your disability services, university or college. These might be on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram.
  • remote study sessions organised by students or lecturers. Or you could organise a session yourself.
  • student mentorship programmes, some places will have disability ambassadors

You could also try asking if anyone on your course wants to be a study buddy. You could set up study sessions remotely to help with motivation and your course.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 25/08/2020

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