By Siavash Minoukadeh, Deputy Digital Editor and Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief
The University has begun implementing a new system for students on campus, which currently limits access to a study centre to a maximum of ten hours per week for each student, to prevent the spread of Coronavirus on campus.
The pilot scheme, which commenced at the Beacon House Study Centre on Queen’s Road last Wednesday, will require students to book their place at a study centre via a form.
There are plans to implement such systems across other University libraries and study centres during the first few weeks of term, with teaching week commencing on 5 October.
All bookings will have a 15-minute gap between them to allow students to leave and arrive in a socially-distanced manner.
Upon arrival, it will be necessary to ‘check in’ at your desk by scanning a QR code and entering a code sent in a confirmation email. The QR code will also need to be scanned when leaving at the end of your booked slot. Filling in a separate NHS track and trace form will also be mandatory.
Limited capacity due to the need to maintain social distancing has meant that each student will only be able to book up to 10 hours of study time per week.
There will also be a limit on the number of number of hours each study slot can be at any one time, which will be set at two to three hours, following discussions between the University and the Student’s Union.
The University have explained the maximum number of hours available for each student per week ‘is likely to be more limited once more students return’ for TB1.
This ‘will be closely monitored, and time limits will be kept under review’, they added.
The system is likely to impact students who rely on study centres to access computers.
The University currently offers a total of 631 open access computer spaces at study centres, which equates to approximately 44 students per computer based on last year’s student population.
To cover some of the shortfall, the University have said some seats will be made available for students living in University-owned residences
Following consultation with sabbatical officers and student faculty representatives, they have also identified some teaching rooms across campus, which are not currently scheduled to be used for teaching, that it estimates will add an additional 120 seats.
David Ion, Bristol SU’s Undergraduate Education Officer, has said: ‘We are aware of the booking system and are working with the Uni to make it user friendly and ensure that all study spaces, not just those in the central library, are included.
‘Given that study space capacity will be reduced as a result of social distancing, the booking system will be a necessity.
‘The priorities for us currently are making sure that everyone has equal access to the booking system, opening up additional study space, such as in seminar rooms which aren't able to be used for socially distanced teaching, and lobbying the university to extend the opening hours of study spaces.’
A University of Bristol spokesperson, meanwhile, said: ‘To comply with social distancing regulations, we have had to reduce the number of seats available in our libraries and study centres.
‘In order to manage this situation safely and fairly, we will be introducing booking systems in all our libraries and study centres which will mean that students need to book a seat before visiting.
‘We acknowledge this situation is far from ideal and apologise for the inevitable disruption this will cause but our priority has to be the safety of our staff and students at this time.
‘Staff from Library Services have been working hard throughout the summer holidays to make our study centres COVID secure and have also created virtual study lounges which students can come together online to work alongside each other and share goals and targets – details on how to access these are available on the website.’
Featured image: Epigram / Lucy O'Neill
How will this impact your studies over the coming term?