Your Learning: New Students

If you are a new student starting in January/February 2021, these set of FAQs are designed to help answer any questions or concerns you might have about starting at Bucks New University.

We understand that some of you may be anxious about starting or returning to University because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy, and we are working hard to ensure that the campus is a safe environment for you to come to. We’re also working hard to ensure there is help, advice and support for those who may be shielding or have other concerns.

There will be a Welcome To Bucks area of the Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) where all information including welcome videos and recorded sessions can be found.

You will receive details of your blended Welcome Week with our academic Schools who will be holding welcome conferences on campus for all new students. You will be introduced to your course, find out what is expected of you, and what you can expect from the University throughout your time at Bucks. We also have sessions to support you with your study and career aspirations, to discover our library, experience demos of our virtual learning environment, Blackboard, and learn more about our support services. You will also be able to enjoy activities and events with Bucks Students’ Union.

Did you know you can check out our facilities at all three of our campuses from the comfort of your own home? Get exploring your campus virtually here. Please note, when you arrive on campus things may look a little different with signs telling you where to walk, safety screens and other safety measures in place.

We are planning that all students will have as much in-person face-to-face teaching as possible. However, we have made the decision that there will be no large in-person lectures on campus. This is so that we can ensure the safety of staff and students using appropriate social distancing protocols. Even if a further relaxation of social distancing has occurred, we need to timetable to maintain social distancing in case of a return in restrictions due to spike in infections, either locally or nationally.

Some smaller lectures may be able to take place on campus, and larger lectures can take place online using our online learning platform Blackboard Collaborate. All our course teams have re-designed their modules using a hybrid approach designed around both in-person and online teaching. We will be in touch when your timetables are available with more detail about how to access them.

All students will have an opportunity to meet their personal tutor within the first month of teaching. We are planning that this will take place face-to-face wherever possible, but also understand that this may not be possible in some cases. Where an alternative is needed, we will ensure that you get an opportunity for a one-to-one phone or video call instead. Personal tutors will be available throughout the semester and there will be regular opportunities to catch up with them.

We understand how important it is to you that you have opportunities to come into campus for teaching and learning and to meet and learn with other students. Safety remains our key priority, and with current UK Government guidelines in mind, we are working hard to plan your learning experience.

The number of in-person hours of contact will differ between student groups, depending on the course you are studying. You will be provided, through a combination of in-person and online opportunities, with all the classes, guidance and support you need to engage in your learning experience.

We are working on these and when they are ready for you to access we will be in touch. When your timetable becomes available you will be able to find it under the ‘My Timetable’ tab in Blackboard or by following this link. Please use this guide to help you navigate around the timetable section.

If you have any questions about your timetable, please read these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) first.

Our course timetables are designed with a number of principles in mind. The first is the safety of our staff and students. We also want to reduce the number of times you have to come on to campus for very short periods, are keen to reduce strains on public transport and wish to make sure we don’t overload the campus while social distancing measures remain in place. We can’t give you a firm number of days at the moment, but this will be provided when you get access to your timetable.

It depends. Your module tutors will be recording live sessions (or aspects of them) if it is appropriate and practical to do so. However, please note, we are encouraging staff to design live sessions to be as interactive or practical as possible – whether in-person or online – to make the most of timetabled learning opportunities. Highly interactive or practical sessions are generally less easy to record, and less accessible and difficult to follow when recordings are watched back.

Where a recording of the live session is not available, details about the session - its activities, any short video clips, any required outcomes and any post-session reflections – will be made available online. This is particularly important for anyone who cannot take part in the live session and is also a helpful and inclusive learning resource for those who can attend.

Your tutor will record your attendance at face-to-face sessions and this information will be used to undertake ‘Test and Trace’ should you, a member of staff of fellow student test positive for COVID-19. Please ensure that the tutor knows of your presence in the session so that they can record your attendance. Your cooperation and patience while this is done will be much appreciated.

To avoid long socially distanced queues in corridors, all in-person face-to-face teaching sessions will start promptly on the hour, and will complete promptly 10 minutes before the end of the timetabled session. This will mean that you will be able to leave a session in a socially distanced way at 10 minutes to the hour and other students will be able to arrive and enter the room rather than queue in the corridor on the hour.

All our student support services are fully operational, and all students have access to support and help when they need it. We will offer a mixture of online and face-to-face services to ensure we are responsive to all our students at their point of need. Please visit our website for all the support that is available for you.

In the first instance you can go to the Academic Advice pages for current students. On how you should submit work, you should check your assignment brief for details of how to submit your assessed work. Most assessed work will be submitted online this semester.

You must ensure that the Student Centre student.centre@bucks.ac.uk and your Personal Tutor know that you are self-isolating. If you are feeling well and can continue with your learning, our staff are working to create support materials to help you to engage wherever you are. These won’t be an exact replica of any sessions that you have missed, but will include enough information and materials to ensure that you won’t fall behind during your period of self-isolation.

The support materials will necessarily differ between courses, due to the different teaching approaches they adopt and the topics under study, so please talk to your tutor to find out what is on offer for you and how best to engage with it. Please also remember that if you feel your learning has been negatively impacted by your absence you will be eligible to apply for mitigating circumstances.