Statements on teaching in 2020/21

The following statement from the heads of all 31 Cambridge Colleges was published in The Times on Friday 22nd May: 

As heads of Cambridge Colleges we have been concerned in recent days to see headlines around the world making the claim that Cambridge will be moving entirely online next year. These claims have caused unnecessary alarm to students and our wider community. We are a collegiate University, and our strength is that so much student activity takes place in Colleges, from small group teaching and pastoral care to music and sport.

We will always take the latest public health advice and clearly there will be challenges in providing all this in the next academic year. Online lectures will make a key contribution. But we are determined to do our best to bring the Colleges and the University back to life with intensive in-person learning in the traditional locations and the widest possible range of activities.

Jane Stapleton, Master, Christ’s College; Athene Donald, Master, Churchill College; Anthony Grabiner, Master, Clare College; David Ibbetson, President, Clare Hall; Christopher Kelly, Master, Corpus Christi College; Mary Fowler, Master, Darwin College; Alan Bookbinder, Master, Downing College; Fiona Reynolds, Master, Emmanuel College; Sally Morgan, Master, Fitzwilliam College; Susan Smith, Mistress, Girton College; Pippa Rogerson, Master, Gonville & Caius College; Geoff Ward, Principal, Homerton College; Anthony Freeling, President, Hughes Hall; Sonita Alleyne, Master, Jesus College; Michael Proctor, Provost, King’s College; Madeleine Atkins, President, Lucy Cavendish College; Rowan Williams, Master, Magdalene College; Barbara Stocking, President, Murray Edwards College; Alison Rose, Principal, Newnham College; Chris Smith, Master, Pembroke College; Bridget Kendall, Master, Peterhouse; John Eatwell, President, Queens’ College; David Yates, Warden, Robinson College; Mark Welland, Master, St Catharine’s College; Catherine Arnold, Master, St Edmund’s College; Tim Whitmarsh, Vice-Master, St John’s College; Roger Mosey, Master, Selwyn College; Richard Penty, Master, Sidney Sussex College; Sally Davies, Master, Trinity College; Daniel Tyler, acting Vice-Master, Trinity Hall; Jane Clarke, President, Wolfson College; Michael Volland, Principal, Ridley Hall.


The message below was sent by Homerton's Senior Tutor to all current students on Wednesday 20th May:

You might have seen in the media today about how Cambridge intends to conduct teaching for the next academic year.  I wanted to write as soon as I could to set out the current state of discussions, what we know for certain, and what is still to be decided.

First, the University and all Colleges including Homerton will welcome as many continuing students as possible to Cambridge for the start of the next academic year, guided always by advice from Public Health England. We are committed to continuing to deliver high quality education to all our students and to delivering a rich student experience, while ensuring that we respond effectively to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small group teaching — supervisions, seminars or individual tuition — is at the heart of our educational provision and will continue in person as much as possible. Given the likely need for continued social distancing, Cambridge has decided to suspend mass lectures in person for the next academic year. Lectures will be available online.  This system is already in place in some University Departments. Lectures are only one part of the rich education that Cambridge offers and freeing space in lecture halls will allow us to concentrate on delivering small group teaching, lab work and practicals. 

At Homerton, as in all Colleges, we are planning to offer a wide range of student activities for both undergraduate and graduate students, and will work hard to build up community life, even in the midst of social distancing.

There remains a great deal of uncertainty about the likely course of the pandemic and its impact on universities. Today’s reporting of only one aspect of Cambridge’s plans may have compounded this uncertainty. We will keep our plans under regular review. Our objective is to restore the full teaching programme as soon as possible. If we are able to do this sooner than currently anticipated, we will.

We, your Tutors and Directors of Studies, are determined to continue to provide you with the excellent teaching and pastoral care you deserve.  And we thank you, our students, for your support for our community and for each other, scattered though we are.  

All good wishes


Dr Penny Barton
Senior Tutor
Homerton College