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Further Education Students - COVID-19 updates from Colchester Institute
Frequently Asked Questions
This document has been developed to try and answer some of the most frequently asked questions that have come from students in recent days.
Where we can provide clear answers we have, but of course this is still a very fast moving situation and College leaders are in daily contact with the Local Authority, qualification awarding bodies and our funding partners, as well as monitoring all the government advice as it is published.
In many cases it is very hard to give one answer that is appropriate for all the different types and levels of programmes that we offer at Colchester Institute. If there are specific questions that you feel have not been answered here, then you are encouraged to contact your individual course leader, Area Head or Head of School.
Will the college campuses be opening after the Easter break? When will we return to College?
Not straight away. Based on the current government guidance we are not expecting to open our campuses for the foreseeable future, but we are continuing to monitor this advice we will only make a decision to reopen our campuses when we can be absolutely certain that it is safe to do so. We will keep students up to date with any changes.
The College itself is not closed for business, the campuses that are closed, but teaching, delivery and support staff are working hard to support you with your online learning, apprenticeship delivery is still taking place and the library is open to support students with online resources.
My course has practical elements, how will I be able to do these working from home?
This is something we are still working out at the moment. It is our expectation that all students will be able to continue with prioritising theory based aspects of their learning online so that when we are in a position to reopen the campuses, we will be able to focus on the completion of practical assessments, if these are still required by the Awarding Body.
For UCC students, work is ongoing to ensure that practical elements can be undertaken, or alternatives put in place. Direct communication about alternate assessments for most UCC programmes will be shared directly with students on 03/04/20. For subsequent questions about alternative assessments, please contact your Head of School.
Apprentices, where permissible, may be encouraged to write reflective accounts of skills and behaviours that have been demonstrated in the workplace. Where employers are in agreement that an apprentice is competent, they will be asked to sign the written account and comment on how you have progressed
How will my final grade be decided and when will I know my final grade for my course?
Presently, the College does not know how Further Education grades will be calculated for courses that cannot be finished in the usual way. This is not our decision, and we will follow national guidance set by Ofqual.
We can guarantee all students that when we have clear, confirmed information we will share this directly with you via the College’s email system at the first practicable opportunity. It is likely that there will be different arrangements for different types of courses.
We understand that this wait is unsettling for students, but please understand that we are checking continually for updates and our curriculum staff are ready to act when we have clear national guidance. We will support all students to complete their courses and ensure that you are not disadvantaged in getting ready for your next step.
Information about UCC grades will be communicated directly by UCC Academic Services. Please note that the assessment criteria (Learning Outcomes) for modules remain in place, but staff have worked hard to design alternative assessments where applicable.
Do I still need to do the GCSE or Functional Skills maths and English work that is being set?
Yes. Whilst we know that GCSE exams will not be taking place this summer we recognise the importance of keeping up studies in these important areas. For students wanting to progress onto the next level of study, they might need to continue to study maths and English GCSEs into 2020/21 and progression decisions may also be based on engagement with GCSE maths and English.
For Apprentices it is important to continue working towards achievement of English or maths as a requirement of the programme
Do I still need to be working if I am feeling unwell?
Only if you are able to. We know that many people will be, and have been, unwell either due to coronavirus symptoms or other coughs and colds. If you are too unwell to be working then that is understandable, but we would ask that you pick up your learning where you left off once you are feeling better.
I am hoping to progress to the next year or next level of my programme, will this still be able to happen?
We would like to assure all students that no one will be disadvantaged by the current situation. We will be carrying out our usual end of year progress boards to make decisions on who is able to progress, this may to take into account engagement with all aspects of your learning while we are working remotely, including maths and English.
All actions taken by UCC are designed to enable students to complete their studies this academic year, or to progress to the next level of study. This is in line with the requirements set out by the regulator for Higher Education in England.
For Apprentices, this will depend on you being employed in a job role that meets the higher level apprenticeship standard. Our apprenticeship delivery teams will be able to advise you on requirements needed to progress on through the apprenticeship route.
I have paid fees for my course, will I be able to get these back if the college is closed?
As explained above, the College is not closed, the campuses are closed due to the social distancing measures currently in place. Staff remain at work to support you with your online learning and we will be doing all that we can to ensure your courses can be completed.
There is no expectation that any fees will be refunded on this basis.
Is the college doing anything to support the NHS and other key workers?
We have been working closely with Essex County Council, the NHS, and Essex Police to provide them with any stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that we had in stock at the college. This includes masks and sanitisers. In addition, we hope to be able to make sanitiser for distribution to the NHS and we are even investigating whether we can make PPE using our 3D printers or work with local employers to support this activity.
Every year the college nominates its charity of the year, and for 2019/20 it is the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance and so all our fundraising this year will be directly helping the community and the NHS. We review our charity at the start of the academic year and this is normally put forward, and voted on, by staff members, we will certainly consider nominating an NHS charity as our charity of the year for 2020/21.
Is there anything that I can be doing to help the community effort at this time?
Yes absolutely! We have been approached by the Essex County Council to help promote their volunteering opportunities, see the link below:
Essex County Council Volunteering Scheme
There is also a scheme through Community 360. Those wishing to volunteer to do shopping, packing or delivering to those being ‘shielded’ (elderly and vulnerable) are asked to email email@example.com. There is no contact required, shopping is left at the door.