10 March 2020 - Coronavirus (Covid-19) bulletin for ucisa members - update from UCAS and Microsoft for ucisa members, recommendations from ucisa
Update from UCAS for ucisa members
“We are closely monitoring the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure we do all we can to help students with their applications. As ever, we’re working closely with universities, awarding bodies and colleagues across the education sector, and we’ll provide further information on any changes, as well as updating relevant pages on ucas.com.
Key personnel across UCAS are meeting each week to make sure we as prepared as we can be for any changes to the admissions process. Business continuity exercises are regularly run at UCAS to ensure we are able to keep our services running as smoothly as possible in different scenarios, and we have arrangements in place for many of our teams to work remotely, which contributes to our resilience and flexibility.
We’ll continue to update information on our website, including on our pages for international students, and individual universities may also decide to get in touch with their applicants around the world to support them and discuss any specific requirements. We are also keeping teachers and university admissions teams regularly updated. We’re aware of changes to IELTs and TOEFL test arrangements in some locations. There are also changes to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) test results, which are tentatively being deferred by a week, from 8 July to 15 July.
Students applying through UCAS have until 31 August to meet the academic conditions of their offer, therefore possible delays to the publications of exam results until then should not impact students’ places being confirmed. If necessary, extensions to this date will be considered in consultation with universities and colleges. In the past, universities have taken mitigating circumstances into account when assessing applications/ changes to exam results due to events beyond the student’s control.
All of our events are currently going ahead as planned, and we’re working closely with event venues who are taking precautions as necessary.
Update from Microsoft for ucisa members
- Jared Spataro (CVP, M365) has posted a new Microsoft 365 blog titled, Our commitment to customers during COVID-19. The blog informs customers how to get Teams for free as well as what we’re doing to avoid service interruptions during increased usage.
- A blog post from Brad Smith on protecting the income of our hourly workers.
- A Sway on using Microsoft technologies to work remotely.
Recommendations from ucisa
We know most, if not all, of our members will be planning for increased working from home. With the varied IT skills of staff across the sector, we recommend that all members consider doing as some members are and run an exercise this week where the front line IT helpdesk all work from home. We are also aware that some members are looking to ensure that there is a pool of staff who can help with key first line support tasks (e.g. resetting passwords, help with video conferencing) over and above normal support desk staff levels in the event of large scale working from home.
Members may be asked to run services in China, especially for next academic year. The feedback we have had is that this is very difficult - in country VLEs are all overloaded, and arranging video caching etc is hard. Members wanting to do this should be prepared for this to be a medium term solution not a "quick win".