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You want to know what’s happening in September. This is fair enough. These are, of course, unprecedented times that we are living in but rest assured that we’ve got a plan that will ensure that your student experience is not only a safe one but also a highly valuable and memorable one. It may initially look a little different, but we’re taking as much as we can from the traditional experience and adding some new elements.

Let us tell you more…

Before you arrive

Our pre-induction programme is going to start earlier than usual and we’ll be in touch about any events that you might be interested in. Some departments are planning pre-arrival socials so you can meet your classmates and lecturers before you arrive, we’re recording a series of podcasts about starting university and emerging from lockdown, and you’ll be invited to our ‘Preparing for University’ live chat in August. You will also have the opportunity to be matched with one of our Peer Mentors before you arrive, who can help welcome you to the University, share their experiences, and answer queries about University life during your first year.

Mark the date in your calendar

We are planning to start the academic year as planned, with Welcome Week taking place from Sunday 13th September to Friday 18th September. Teaching will then proceed the following week from Monday 21st September. We’re currently working hard, alongside the Students’ Union, to create new and innovative ways for students to be able to get to know each other. This includes a range of virtual social events that will take place as part of Welcome Week. You should receive more information on our plans for Welcome Week towards the end of August, alongside further details on how to log on to our Welcome site, where you’ll be able to enrol.

Safety first

Our students’ safety is the highest priority. We have a plan which ensures appropriate hygiene practices are established and maintained and that social distancing is in place while this is necessary across all our sites. This includes all of our owned and partnership residential accommodation.

Blended Learning

What is ‘blended learning’? Well, it’s going to be our teaching philosophy for the next academic year (2020/21) and beyond; a blended learning experience that puts as much emphasis on face-to-face teaching as it does with online teaching. From speaking to our students, we understand the value they place on face-to-face teaching, so we’re planning as much social learning in small groups as is safely possible, alongside online lectures that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own room.

However, we haven’t done this just out of necessity. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the University was already considering ways of adopting new technologies for the delivery of a more flexible learning experience, so recent events have simply advanced these plans. Of course, this approach will initially be dictated by any social distancing measures in place, but we will be looking to take a more flexible approach as the restrictions are lowered. Regardless of the situation, you can be assured of the same high-quality teaching as always.

Virtual work placements and your e-portfolio

Alongside your studies, Shrewsbury already offers you a range of distinctive opportunities to help you develop new skills and grow in confidence; these are still a significant part of our experience. Our volunteering, internships and work-based learning programmes now offer virtual alternatives, ensuring that our students continue to be challenged and inspired while working remotely. All evidence of both academic and personal development can be logged in your e-portfolio which will stay with you throughout your university journey and, we hope, beyond.

Highly rated student support

We have been recognised as one of the country’s top ten universities for student support and we are committed to helping and nurturing every student at University Centre Shrewsbury. Every student at Shrewsbury is allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) in order to ensure our students maximise their potential. As such, the PAT’s role is to help you with your personal development by engaging with you on a one-to-one basis, acting somewhat like a personal coach. This year, we’ve decided to allocate PATs prior to Welcome Week so that they can help you with your transition into University, giving you a head start, as well as a friendly face that you’ll recognise when you arrive.

We also have a Wellbeing and Mental Health team ensuring that our students settle in, get the most out of their university experience and feel safe and at home in Shrewsbury. The team provide students with practical information, support and guidance, and are on hand if they have any issues that may be affecting their experience.

Take a walk

If you’re keen to avoid public transport and worried about how you’re going to get across town, you needn’t worry. Our Guildhall campus is ideally located for getting about, with everything you need within walking distance. In fact the best way to get around in Shrewsbury is by foot… and it’s better for the environment that way too! Cycling is also a good way of getting around Shrewsbury, with numerous cycle paths available that make our campus even more accessible.

Languages for All

Another exciting initiative we are introducing in the new academic year is the opportunity to join one of our part-time languages courses at a reduced rate of £100, which is reimbursed after completion of 80% of the course. You can choose one of the many language courses that we offer, including: Arabic; French; German; Italian; Japanese; Mandarin; Polish; Portuguese; Spanish; Russian; and Welsh. Courses are offered at various levels, from beginner to advanced level, and run from September to June, with evening classes taking place for two hours. With the current social distancing measures in place, a blended approach is likely to be adopted for delivery of these courses in the new academic year. This means that there will be some face-to-face teaching alongside some online teaching. 

Imagine finishing university with a new language under your belt to add to your CV!

Accommodation

If you have accepted your offer of a place at the University, we’d recommend applying for University accommodation as soon as possible. We have listened to our students and in doing so designed accommodation options that are flexible to suit our student needs. Our safe and secure halls of residence are in a prime location in Shrewsbury town centre. They are just a short walk from the lecture halls and library at Guildhall, close to all major public transport services, plus just a few steps away from Shrewsbury’s shops, restaurants and amenities.

Local and commuting students

We recognise that our commuting students will have a different experience to residential students, but with over half of our student population now opting to commute, it is important to us that they feel as much a part of the University Centre Shrewsbury community as our residential students do. For this reason, we have a number of initiatives in place to help ensure our commuting students are able to enjoy the full university experience. We’ll also be offering induction events, so commuting students can ask any questions they may have prior to their studies starting.

The University App

Before you arrive, make sure you download the University of Chester app! This will not only help you to stay informed, but also ahead of the game. Students regularly use the app to keep on top of their timetable but there are a whole host of other features on the app too. As the app is used as a means for us to communicate with our students, by downloading the app, you’ll enable us to better support your engagement.