May 28 2020

A message sent to students from Professor Paul Layzell

As the Coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic continues to create uncertainty in all aspects of life, I wanted to update you on our plans for the next academic year.
Royal Holloway is a campus university and we understand how much you value engaging with the academics on your course and having easy access to the facilities and resources you need. We also recognise that the conditions set by Covid-19 mean that, to keep you safe and on track with your studies, some things will need to change. When considering these changes we are focussed on how we can continue to inspire you in your studies and ensure you receive the support you need to help you to succeed in your goals.
I want to reassure you that we are planning so that you can return to campus for the start of term, 21 September 2020 and our plans will ensure that we prioritise the health and safety of our whole campus community. We are also adapting your courses so that they will combine face-to-face activity, for example tutorials and small group seminars, with online lectures and teaching support. As you will be aware, for the last year most lectures have been available online, a move which was well received by students. Having lectures available online means you can watch again at a time convenient to you and use the recordings to prepare for smaller groups discussions. By adopting an approach that combines face-to-face with online activity we build in flexibility that accommodates social distancing and seeks to ensure that if further restrictions or lock downs are imposed, you won’t miss out or have interrupted study.
We are also conscious that self-isolation, illness or existing health conditions might mean that some students are not able to come to campus for the start of term. In response, we are setting up each course to accommodate a mix of students studying face-to-face and remotely at any one time. Our flexible approach means that if you are not able to come to campus for the start of term, you will be able to engage with your studies online, and then join back in with your classes in person when your circumstances allow it.
I recognise that the move to online teaching and learning support at the end of term two was sudden and no one had any time to prepare. Over the summer we will be working hard to reshape teaching and learning support so that we can combine the benefits of technology, such as being able to watch lectures again and again, with real time, face-to-face engagement in the forums that we know matter most to you. We are also harnessing the benefits of technology to support the student experience and other on-campus services. We want to enable you to continue to meet new people, learn new skills and study alongside classmates even if social distancing measures are in place, this includes being able to interact with a range of the Students' Union's clubs and societies, many of which will continue to operate in a virtual environment while social distancing rules are in place.
You can find FAQs about teaching and learning for 2020/21 on the student intranet and more detail will follow.  We will also be providing more information on how we’re making the campus Covid-19 secure.
I’ve talked before about how we are living through events that are unprecedented in our lifetime and I appreciate what a challenging time this is for us all however, support is available to you if you need it. If you are anxious or concerned and would like to talk to someone, please email

Please stay safe.
Professor Paul Layzell
Principal, Royal Holloway, University of London