University of Chichester’s reopening - How are students reacting to the 'new normal'?

The University of Chichester welcomed back students in September, with several new measures in place to limit the risk of COVID-19.

This is particularly important for Chichester city given that, according to the 2011 census, 1 in 4 people was aged 65 and over and is vulnerable to the worst consequences of COVID-19.

Out of all the changes that have taken place so far at the university, the students, interviewed anonymously, said: “The canteens on both campuses are done quite well, although the first week was better than afterwards, as there was an employee directing the students on where to go whilst the students are inside the canteen, but after the first week, the employee was removed, and the students were left to direct themselves and to social distance themselves.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

"Most of them were sensible and followed the rules.”

The University of Chichester welcomed back students in September, with several new measures in place to limit the risk of COVID-19. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Regarding the delivery of the lectures, the students said: “All the lectures are physical but may be online for students optionally. For online lectures, if the students cannot hear the lecturer online, the lecturer can still communicate by typing in the chat with those students.

"However, this means that the lecturer is forced to disrupt the lecture as a result, as they shift their conversation from the physical students to the online ones.

"We prefer physical lectures as the lecturer’s explanation that he elaborates in person physically is very beneficial to the students, whereas the online PowerPoint presentations are a bit limiting by themselves alone.

"In lectures, students have to wear face masks. Lecturers don’t have to wear face masks as long as they stand within a specifically dotted marked perimeter.

“Sometimes, if you are really far at the back of the lecture room and with a low voice, the lecturer requests the students to pull their face masks away from their face and mouths so that they can be heard better. There are labels (green dots) underneath the chairs’ locations.

"The lecturers have to make sure that the chairs are placed standing corresponding to each individual green dot.”

The students’ university life has been affected by the COVID-19 rules.

The Students’ Union bars are temporarily closed for the recent lockdown period, although Students’ Union staff are still on hand to provide support, particularly around studying or mental health concerns.

According to the students, most of them do follow the rules to prevent the acquisition and transmission of COVID-19.

The university recognises that it is a worrying time for its community, so it has put into practice a range of comprehensive measures to keep students, staff, and residents safe.

It recently collaborated with the government to open Covid-19 testing sites on its Bognor Regis Campus and at Northgate car park in Chichester, which are available for the community as well as students and staff to receive tests.

A University of Chichester spokesperson said: “We are working hard to continue giving students an excellent university experience and ensuring that teaching remains as closed to normal as possible but with a greater focus on remote learning alongside smaller class sizes.

"Our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our university and the West Sussex community. The university remains a safe place to learn and we want to thank our students and staff for remaining vigilant and continuing to respect and follow safety guidelines.”