Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 5 June Undergraduate students

Covid-19 Update Message to Undergraduate students - 5 June 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with Undergraduate students.

Dear undergraduate student,

I expect that you may be breathing a sigh of relief as the end of the assessment period approaches - I hope they have gone well for you despite the unusual circumstances.

Once you are free of assessments, I’d be grateful if you could find some time to complete the survey that NUSU are conducting on the move to online delivery of teaching and assessment.  You can find further details and a link to the survey below.

We are continuing to work through our plans for preparing for the return to campus for those of you who will be returning in September and, in this week’s update, I provide details of our plans for a phased reopening of the library buildings and of recent decisions that have been made in relation to international placements planned for the 2020-21 academic year.

Finally I provide an update from our NUSU colleagues about forthcoming events.

Student Survey

You will have recently received an email asking you to participate in a University survey. This survey is being run by a team representing Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU), the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team and Inclusive Newcastle. The survey will help us to understand the impact of the University’s move to remote delivery and to enhance our future online learning experience. We would very much value your participation in this survey which should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Access to library services and returning books

Although the library buildings are still closed, we are planning a phased re-opening, starting in early July. Initially this will be for a click and collect service for print stock, with a click and post option for those who aren’t able to visit the Library in person.  We have tried to make it as easy as possible for you to return any items you currently have out on loan – if you are returning to Newcastle to collecting your belongings from University accommodation, books may be left in the boxes provided there.  Otherwise, you can just use the returns slot at the front of the Philip Robinson Library.  For those not intending to be back in Newcastle until the start of the academic year, we will shortly be announcing how you can post books back to us, free of charge.

Considerable physical adjustments are being made inside library buildings to ensure that we comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines, so things will look and feel a little different when you return. We ask for your patience and understanding whilst we get this right. We’ll still be doing our very best to support you in your studies and, for those of you returning in October, look forward to welcoming you back.

We’re expanding our already extensive collections of e-resources and we’re working with academic colleagues to source e-versions of key reading list material to maximise availability of popular texts.   We’ve enhanced the ASK Academic Skills Kit – for example, adding new resources to support online learning and assessment and there will be further developments and additions throughout the year.   Our general library help service is available 24/7 and you can book one to one appointments with a Liaison Librarian  for a customised online chat about your information needs.  And, should you need it, there’s further support on hand via the Writing Development Centre.

More information on all library resources and services can be found on the University Library webpages. You can also keep up with the latest announcements about Library services through our Twitter feed.

International Mobility (Study Abroad/ Erasmus/ Work Placements)

Last week I provided you with some important information about our plans for the new academic year.  As you may expect, given the current situation, we have also been giving careful consideration as to what might be possible with regards to international mobility for our students during the 2020-21 academic year.  I want to update you on the decisions that have been taken about this important part of our student offer.

With student safety as our absolute priority, we have taken the difficult decision:

  • to cancel all international work and study placements due to start in semester 1 of Academic Year 2020-21 for degree programmes that have a mandatory year abroad
  • to cancel all international work and study placements for the Academic Year 2020-21 for programmes with an optional year or semester abroad

If you are studying a programme with an optional element of international mobility, it means that the period abroad is not required to complete your degree programme and that there is an equivalent programme without the mobility component that you could transfer to.  If this applies to you, you will receive a separate message from Global Opportunities to confirm the cancellation of your international placement.

If you are a student on a degree programme with a mandatory year abroad (this applies mainly, but not exclusively, to degree programmes with a language), you need to spend a period of time abroad to meet the learning outcomes of your degree.  We are therefore working on alternative options that will allow you to gain an experience equivalent to your mandatory period of mobility.  If this applies to you, your School will be in touch shortly to inform you about the alternatives that will be available to you in semester 1.

If international travel restrictions are lifted, if partner institutions and placement providers are able to offer work and study placements and if it is safe to travel, it may be possible for students on a degree programme with a mandatory year abroad to go abroad in semester 2 of Academic Year 2020-21.

I understand that the above decisions will be disappointing for those of you who were hoping to participate in a placement during the 2020-21 academic year but I hope you’ll understand that our decisions have been made with your safety as the priority.

International mobility is a significant part of our student experience and valued by both our students and the University. If you are interested in finding out what other types of international experiences are available, e.g. virtual summer schools offered by our partner institutions, you can e-mail and ask to be added to the Global Opportunities Newsletter.

NUSU events

Your sabbatical officers at NUSU have asked us to let you know about the following forthcoming events:

  • Boom Toon is an online virtual festival brought to you by your Sabbs this weekend – 5th -7th June. There's a whole host of things to get involved in, workshops, crafts classes, speeches from keynote speakers, musicians, cooking tutorials, live performances and student artists await. Find more information at: @NUSUBoomToon on Facebook. 
  • Katie Smyth, your NUSU President, is also running an extremely important campaign on everyday sexism.  Tune in to some podcasts from some of the University’s very own and other amazing women in leadership here and keep an eye out for more this week. 

Best wishes,


Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar