SENIOR leaders at one of the city’s universities have mapped out plans for a safe return for students in the new academic year.

From September the University of Winchester will welcome new and returning students onto its campus putting in place a range of measures for a 'Covid Safe Campus' to ensure students and staff are safe.

For the whole of next academic year, students will experience a combination of small groups, on-campus sessions with large group teaching taking place online.

Most courses at Winchester are already taught in small group settings, leaving the University well-placed to accommodate social distancing measures set out in national guidelines.

Students required to continue shielding beyond the start of the academic year will receive additional online support to enable them to start their course.

Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said: "I am pleased to confirm that the University is planning to be open in September to welcome new and returning students. Our plans are guided by national advice alongside our own passion for giving students the best possible experience at Winchester.

"Over the coming weeks we will be developing our plans further and will continue communicating these to our students. As with many aspects of our life in lockdown, we have all become used to different ways of interacting. Our top priority is that our students have a thoroughly enjoyable and safe time here. We will be working with Winchester Student Union and others in the city to explore ways to help students safely enjoy life as a student in the beautiful city of Winchester."

The university is also setting up a new 'Ask Winchester' help desk for new and returning students, with a dedicated team in place to help make the transition to university as smooth as possible.

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Meanwhile, the University of Southampton, which runs the Winchester School of Art, is yet to determine how it plans to re-open.

A university spokesperson said: “At the moment, we are continuing to plan for the forthcoming academic year (2020-21) whilst also focusing on delivering the final stages of teaching and assessment for the current academic year.

“Over recent weeks, we’ve gone to teaching completely online which has presented many challenges and opportunities and, overall, has provided an invaluable experience of how this type of remote interaction might be used more effectively going forward. Having said that, we have not yet made firm plans for 2020-21 but we will continue to monitor best practice as well as governmental advice and guidelines to inform our discussions.

“Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is paramount in any decisions we are making. Any plans we make will be shared with students and staff in the first instance.”