LONDON • Cambridge has become the first British university to move all student lectures online for the coming academic year, underscoring the far-reaching changes the coronavirus is forcing on higher education institutions around the world.
The 800-year-old university said in a statement on Tuesday it was “likely that social distancing will continue to be required” during the next academic year, which begins in October and concludes in the summer of next year.
It said the decision will be reviewed if official coronavirus guidance changes.
“Lectures will continue to be made available online, and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social distancing requirements,” the university said.
This suggested that other important aspects of teaching, such as tutorials and smaller group classes, might be permitted to take place face to face.
Officials believe these sessions could be possible with participants sitting at a safe distance from one another.
Colleges and universities around the world, largely forced to end in-person instruction in the most recent term, are studying whether and how to move forward with classes in the next academic year.
In the United States, for example, some schools are bringing students back with pledges to test them and track infections.
Others are not holding in-person classes at all: California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the US, said classes will take place almost exclusively online this autumn, with some possible exceptions for clinical classes in the nursing programme or certain science laboratories.
In Canada, McGill University in Montreal said it will offer most of its courses online this autumn.
Some are considering adapting in other ways such as one-way paths across the quad, and mandatory face masks for classrooms and dining halls.