Pembroke College bought Land Economy's lecture space in February 2020.Wikimedia Commons

The row between Land Economy students and the Department may have just come to an end.

Following their review of teaching this week, the Department announced on Tuesday evening (2/11) that all lectures would return to being in-person next term, with supervisions remaining an “individual matter” to be decided between students and their dons.

The decision came after students organised an open letter last Friday (29/10) demanding that “lecture space be found and allocated” since they don’t feel like they’re getting their money’s worth with online learning.

Emails seen by Varsity reveal that pressure also came from postgraduates. An MPhil student who served in the British army, Andrew Maber-Jones, pressed the Director of Teaching, Martin Dixon, on how “a Department can knowingly offer courses without teaching spaces, and claim fees for teaching without space?”

Dixon responded by saying that although the Department had been allocated space by the University, it didn’t meet the safety standards necessary to protect against Covid-19.

However, according to Maber-Jones, this “objective risk assessment is at variance to the norm here in Cambridge and in Government. I have been a Risk Owner all my career in high threat environments and it’s not about data: it’s about strategies to mitigate risk.”

He also brushed aside the claim that the Department’s hands were tied: “neither do I accept that it is the University to which we need to address the issue. Our contract is with the department for teaching and our colleges for accommodation. We need to make our feelings known to you.”


Mountain View

‘Our education is suffering and we demand change’: Land Economy students launch open letter calling for in-person teaching

The pressure appears to have worked: while most lectures will remain online for the rest of Michaelmas term, the Department announced yesterday that they will be in-person for Lent.

Yet some are unconvinced. A student behind the open letter told Varsity that he remained “disappointed” by the decision. Though aware the allocated rooms have been deemed “unsuitable”, he wants to know why. And further, why there aren’t any ways to mitigate that risk, like testing or masks, that the “Department is willing to consider.”