Universities in UAE to reopen with limited attendance and partial online learning

Lectures will be held online as class learning is limited to necessary staff and students with lab work

Universities across the UAE will partially reopen while still offering classes online for any students who do not need to be on campus, authorities announced on Sunday.

Hussain Al Hammadi, the Minister of Education, said priority would be given to students who needed to use facilities, such as laboratories, on campus.

Mr Al Hammadi said the blended learning programme would be the safest option for students and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have adopted a combination of distance education and education on campus as it is the safest option for our continuing education

He said safety measures would be introduced at the universities to protect those who will be on campus.

Mr Al Hammadi delivered the news during a meeting with higher education institutions to discuss their operational plans for the academic year and the challenges Covid-19 may present.

"In light of the current health situation, we decided that the priority of education in universities should be remote for lectures," he said.

"Personal attendance will restricted to a limited number of staff and students, whose presence in practical and research laboratories, clinical training and examinations is required.

"We have adopted a combination of distance education and education on campus as it is the safest option for our continuing education."

Universities, schools and nurseries closed across the UAE in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Schools across the country say they will reopen in two weeks but offer staggered attendance and a limited number of pupils in each classroom to prevent crowding.

Face masks will be mandatory and procedures are in place in the event of a suspected Covid-19 case.

On Monday Zayed University, one of the UAE's three public universities, said it would adopt a hybrid model with lecture rooms tentatively opening on September 6.

The university is working to get pupils back on campus but online classes will begin from August 24.

A remote working policy has been instituted for many members of staff.

E-learning will begin for all courses from next week while some subjects requiring lab and studio time will switch to classes next month.

“As we pivot to reassemble for the new academic year at Zayed University, we are taking the highest precautionary measures to welcome students, faculty and staff back to our campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," said Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and president of Zayed University.

"In light of the current situation and in line with the directives of the Ministry of Higher Education, we have made the decision to transition to a hybrid-education model in our efforts to encourage the continuation of remote learning, as well as on-campus learning wherever necessary.

“The health and safety of our students and employees is our utmost priority.

"We are implementing additional measures at Zayed University will be regularly communicated in a timely fashion, while we monitor the situation as we progress into the fall semester."