Comment: Why I’m proud of LSE’s decision to go digital

Last week, LSE took the unprecedented step of taking all teaching online, replacing in-person exams with other forms of assessment and rescheduling much-anticipated July graduations. This has caused major disruption, and a grey feeling has inundated a very empty campus. 

Final year undergraduates and masters students have been left with a bittersweet taste, as the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak finally hit home, and their last months at university have become mired with uncertainty. International students, like myself, are confused as to whether they should – or even could – get back home, as the UK braces for what is likely to be a severe outbreak. 

When the news hit, the atmosphere changed; COVID-19 became very real, very quickly. On campus, students were either fretting or calling their parents trying to figure out what to do. It was a hard day for those who have worked hard towards graduation.

LSE has made the right decision to go online. It will be one of the most challenging times for a university that already struggles with student satisfaction. Staff have to figure out how to assess students within the next month; IT and professional services will have to provide the infrastructure for this. 

However, I know that as I write this, academics and professional staff are scrambling to figure out how to adapt without causing major disruptions to our ability to learn and be assessed. Students and staff alike are struggling to use alternatives like Skype and Zoom; The tech-savvy among us will be fine, but those used to other systems are expecting a tough fight ahead.  

Despite how challenging it is and how badly things will most likely go, social distancing is needed, and institutions must respond with leadership and integrity. At a time when the UK government should arguably be doing more to increase prevention and the spread of the outbreak, universities should be showing that they are up to the task of protecting students and the wider community. LSE has, and others should follow. LSE is not a faultless institution, but with this tough decision, I can say now that I am proud of my university. 

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