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Most universities planning in-person teaching for students in autumn – poll

By Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

The majority of British universities are planning to offer in-person teaching and face-to-face social opportunities this autumn, a survey suggests.

More than nine in 10 (97%) institutions have said they will provide some in-person teaching to students at the start of term this year, according to a Universities UK (UUK) poll of 92 universities.

The survey also suggests that more than four in five (87%) are planning to provide in-person sporting, fitness and wellbeing activities in the autumn.

The findings came as the vice president for education at the University of Sheffield urged students to take up their university places this year ahead of the deadline to make a final decision on offers.

Professor Wyn Morgan told the PA news agency that students could have more of a chance of gaining a place at one of the leading universities due to a demographic dip resulting in fewer 18-year-olds than in previous years.

But the professor of economics admitted students would have a “different” experience, especially on freshers’ week as many clubs and societies have moved online.

Prof Morgan added that, under current Government guidance, Sheffield will supplement face-to-face teaching with more online learning – and students will be placed into bubbles within their residences.

Ucas has predicted that tens of thousands fewer students could start university this year.

In a worst-case scenario, up to 46,000 fewer domestic students will start courses this autumn compared to last year, according to a blog from the admissions service published last week.

Students who have applied through Ucas have until Thursday to make a final decision on their offers.

The UUK survey suggests 90% of universities have already communicated their plans for the autumn term to prospective and current students.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, said: “Although their first term will be different from previous years, most students can expect significant in-person teaching and a wide range of social activities and support services.

“Universities are committed to providing an engaging academic and social experience for all while ensuring the safety and welfare of the whole university community.”