BY Gordon McColm
At twenty to eleven last night UWS students received the latest announcement from their academic leadership. As of 5pm this afternoon, campuses would be officially closed.
Not a particular surprise as the outbreak of the coronavirus in Scotland continues to escalate. Cases in Ayrshire today climbed to 34. A few of the staff and students who have been on campus since face-to-face lectures were suspended last week, said that it had been ‘quiet’.
For some students the announcement has helped. Suzanne left university accommodation last week, heading home to work remotely there. She says she feels justified in her decision.
Her work placement and assessments have already been affected by the shutdown. She was meant to gain experience on a film set for one of her modules, it’s now been changed to a written assignment. She’s understandably disappointed at the lost opportunity.
“Your degree is important but your health is more important”Suzanne, speaking about the knock on effect the closure has had on her studies.
For other students, the decision to close campus has raised more issues. Jack Darrer also left Ayr and is back with his parents in Aberdeen. He’s concerned that those without access to powerful computers will struggle to cope with their assessments. Some students have been told to abandon their planned work and adjust to the new limitations.
Jack’s been on placement with the SFA too, though it was stopped early due to the outbreak.
“Having those opportunities cut short, I do think, decreases my chances of getting immediate employment in the industry”Jack Darrer, on the shutting of work experience roles.
Olivia, a MA Songwriting student, recently also took the decision to travel home. She has a slightly longer trip and includes a long haul flight back to Canada and a 14 day isolation period when she gets there.
Her assessments have already been adjusted. She’s been told that marking for her work will focus heavily on the content of what she produces. It means for those on the course with budget equipment, they won’t face penalties for having substandard audio quality. The larger problem she faces though is her masters project, recording an album for public release, without the universities facilities to support the process.
“Yeah I can record an album, I have the capabilities to do that but will it be of standard to release? Probably not.”Olivia, on recording her album at home.
Jack McPhillips is studying a Masters in Filmmaking. He’s worried the lack of access to computers for editing and high quality cameras will negatively impact not only his assessments due this term but his Masters project to follow.
“We’ve still got the course to get on with and we still need equipment for that”Jack McPhillips, when asked about the closure of campuses.
Adjustments may well be enough to help students submit the best work in the circumstances but the cascading effect the outbreak could have on future job prospects is giving some students cause for concern.
All the students are understanding of the situation though. The outbreak is, as UWS describes it, “unprecedented” and all the students spoken have said how the staff are doing all they can to help.
UWS was asked to comment on their measures and decision-making process that led to the announcement late last night but have so far declined to respond.