UK / Universities may switch from full-time to distance learning before Christmas

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Universities in England may end their full-time studies early this semester so that any student who has to isolate themselves due to the coronavirus can return home for Christmas, Education Minister Gavin Williamson said on Tuesday.

However, he rejected the suggestion to transfer all teaching to the remote mode from the beginning of the semester.

According to the latest estimates, cases of the coronavirus have been detected in 52 UK universities so far - 12 more than on Monday.

"I know there are some concerns about the impact of the safety measures taken on the Christmas break. We will work with universities to ensure that all students are supported and can safely return home to spend Christmas with their loved ones if they decide to do it, said the British Education Minister in the House of Commons.

He said that all universities would be able to finish their studies early in full-time and remote mode so that all students who need to self-isolate can do so before Christmas and can spend it with their families.

He expressed the opinion that universities are well equipped to deal with cases of infection. He added that he hopes that the number of universities that will have to switch to remote mode prematurely will be very small.

He explained that there are many fields of study, such as medicine, dentistry or creative arts, that require stationary classes, so switching to remote mode would not be advisable.

Williamson said restrictions for students should not be stricter than for the rest of society and that there should be a balance when it comes to restrictions on their movement.

From London Bartłomiej Niedziński (PAP)