Students potentially left in the dark about hybrid learning options available to them

By Daniella Theis

Students are potentially being left in the dark by the University about a hybrid learning option available to them.

A member of teaching staff from the University, who wishes to stay anonymous, has shared with the Strathclyde Telegraph that the option of hybrid learning plans exists for students but that the option is not to be shared unless requested by students. 

They said: “What the University management have said is that if students have health reasons why they can’t attend, they can apply for a hybrid teaching plan. 

“However staff, are being told that we can’t make the offer. University management have told staff not to proactively make this available. Students have to ask for it rather than us telling them that they can make an application for it. If they don’t know it exists, how are they going to ask for it?”

A document containing Hybrid Teaching and Learning guidance, which can be accessed through the University’s Covid-19 Information hub, defines hybrid learning as “the provision of alternative means of study of learning activities for students unable to study through the primary mode” – meaning that if students were to attend in-person primarily but are unable to, alternative means to learn may be provided to them. 

The document was created to “support staff in preparing for scenarios where students may be unable to participate in on-campus or synchronous online activities,” and lists examples of what such a hybrid learning plan might look like – including:

  • Provision of lecture recordings to students who were unable to attend an on- campus lecture, or an online lecture delivered live
  • Provision of moderated online discussions where students were unable to contribute on campus, or in an online synchronous discussion
  • Provision of an online tutorial session via Zoom or Teams for students unable to attend on campus

Any such provision, and “the ability for programmes to provide alternatives to placements” is “programme-specific,” and subject to approval to Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRB) – although it is said that staff could, in some instances, “make such provision, where they have access to the technologies and skills to do so” and this has been approved through the Head of Department/School.

“They [University Management] want to keep that to a minimum,” said the member of staff sharing the information. They added: “Otherwise it would have staff having to record material online and teach. That’s going to be eating into their time and they are not bringing in extra staff to provide that.”

The University did not directly respond to questions of whether the options for hybrid learning plans existed or whether these plans were purposefully withheld from students. 

However, a spokesperson for the University of Strathclyde said: “The safety, health and wellbeing of our community at Strathclyde is of paramount importance and informs every decision we take. This includes adhering to – and in some cases, going further than – the Scottish Government’s Beyond Level Zero baseline measures. Information about the measures we are taking can be found on our COVID-19 information hub 

“There is a wide range of support in place for our students. Anyone with concerns should speak to their programme leader or contact our Student Support team.”