As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your degree programme can be safely delivered, we are writing to update you on how the College is planning to support a safe return to study and on how we intend to deliver your programme in 2021-22.

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance of in-person and online teaching may be subject to change. However, we share students’ hopes that we will be able to offer in-person learning activities consistently throughout the coming year.

Further details on the mix of in-person and online activities and support available to you are provided in the programme delivery section of this letter.

Institutional guarantees

General

Our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London have to offer.  However, you will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College. This may include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the outcome of this testing to the College. There is also the strong expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19, or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country. By following the latest guidance we can all support the College community to stay safe and satisfy the UK government that we can continue with in-person on-campus activities, wherever possible.

Details for your programme are set out in this communication.

Attendance and Delivery of Teaching

As a community, we have learnt a lot from this past year. Our combination of cutting-edge technology and academic excellence resulted in some new and creative ways of learning and engaging with each other on campus and remotely.  Many of the changes made to the learning experience have worked well, and therefore we may retain some of these approaches in the new academic year to enhance your overall experience on campus, and these are specified in this communication.

In the event of a suspension of on-campus or placement activity due to an escalation of the pandemic, we will deliver some content online and, if necessary, reschedule activities which cannot be delivered online later in the 2021-22 academic year. Depending on the length and severity of any such scenario, if we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance (e.g. labs/practicals/clinical placements etc.) within the 2021-22 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme, we may have to extend the length of your programme, with no extra fees being charged.  You will also be given the option to exit the programme and provided with a transcript of the credits achieved together with an exit award, where appropriate.

Assessment

Year 6 summative exams are due to be held in March 2022 and consist of written papers, the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) and a clinical assessment. We will provide more information in due course.

Safety

You will be required to follow the safety requirements put in place on campus and in all College buildings (including halls) to ensure we keep the campuses and the Imperial community safe and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly in our ability to deliver your degree programme and to offer you a full student experience.

There will be requirements and expectations placed on you and other members of the College community to follow the safety measures put in place by the UK government and national and local public health authorities. You can view our current guidance for our community on our website. This may vary once we begin the academic year, but is likely to include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the results of this testing to the College. There is also the strong expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19, or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country. Failure to follow the safety measures and report them to College may result in restrictions being imposed on the delivery of your degree programme and on your access to the wider student experience.

Student Experience

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), Imperial has been working with your Students’ Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience in all eventualities. We identified key pillars of the wider student experience: academic experience; research culture and environment; amenities and accommodation; student community; wellbeing support; co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities. Information on how we will deliver these, along with information on our Library Services and College-wide induction arrangements, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our COVID 19 pages

Whilst the Student Union activities may not be quite the same as normal, the dedicated Imperial College School of Medicine Students’ Union (ICSMSU) will still be active and here for you for the years ahead. We are working hard alongside the Imperial College Union (ICU) and ICSMSU to give you the best possible welcome to the College via a multi-mode approach. ICSMSU is looking forward to seeing you this year.

Delivery of your Programme of Study

Content of the programme

In 2021-22, we expect your clinical placements to proceed in the normal way. You should keep up to date with all in-course assessments (e.g. DOPS and placement assessment forms) and all mandatory submissions count towards your eligibility to sit end-of-year examinations. Mid-placement reviews will continue to take place, which will be valuable opportunities for you to gather feedback.

You should still attend your hospital/GP placement site in person, even if the clinic you are attending is virtual. There may be occasions where you may be able to access some clinics and meetings online, but this will require the agreement of your placement lead. A reminder of the guidance for students taking part in virtual clinical activity can be downloaded by clicking here [pdf].

Any large group classroom-style teaching, such as the Finals revision course, will continue to be delivered online. There is also a Digital Learning Package that has been created for Year 6. Information about and links to these resources will be circulated to you.

Your faculty will be available to teaching and support you both online and on-campus, where guidance allows. It is possible that some of your teachers may be temporarily unavailable due to their professional or clinical responsibilities. In those circumstances, we will make adjustments to minimise the direct impact on students.

We have reviewed the learning outcomes for your programme to ensure these can be taught and assessed in a multi-mode format.

No changes to the programme or module learning outcomes have been made as a consequence of moving to a multi-mode format.

Scheduling

We are not anticipating changing the term of when modules will be taught or assessed.

Programme Delivery 2021-22

The following activities will be delivered in person:

  • All practical teaching, including skills teaching.
  • Clinical placements.
  • Some small-group teaching.

The following activities will be delivered online:

  • All large-group teaching will be delivered online.

In the event of a partial lockdown, the following activities will be delivered in person:

  • As many of the practical activities and placements as possible will continue to be delivered in person.

In the event of a partial lockdown, the following activities will be delivered online:

  • All theoretical teaching and pastoral activities will be delivered online. Some practical elements and placements may need to be deferred to later in the programme.

Academic and welfare support

Your Senior Tutor for Year 6 is Dr Lucy Bingham and we encourage you to get in touch with her and the FEO Welfare Team (feo.welfare@imperial.ac.uk) if you need any extra support at this time, or at any point in future. Year 6 can be a momentous year and the FEO Welfare team will do all they can to help. The support provision for you over the year ahead keeps the same structure. Your teaching staff, Tutors and the FEO Welfare team continue to be available should you have questions or concerns, or if you find you need extra support at any time. All our welfare and support information is always available on MedLearn here.

We have updated the Student Support Zone specifically in response to the pandemic, and we hope it will be helpful for you if you need extra resources during this time or in future. There you can find support for careers, mental health, and disability services, along with study and wellbeing support, and the College chaplaincy.

For those who find themselves in financial difficulties, the School of Medicine Hardship Fund is available. All students are welcome to apply multiple times as circumstances require. You can contact FEO Welfare (feo.welfare@imperial.ac.uk) directly or find all the information on this via the Your Finances section on MedLearn.

Support for online learning

You will still have access to your College-issued Apple iPad to support your academic studies.

In addition, to access the content of the programme online you will be expected to have access to a computer (comparable to the laptop we offer for loan; HP EliteBook 840 G7, i5-10310U processor, 16Gb RAM, 256Gb solid state disk, 14” HD screen, Windows 10 Pro 64, webcam), reliable internet connection with a minimum of sustained 10 MBps down/upload speed and be able to use Microsoft Teams. Your College IT account will provide you with free access to the Office365 suite of tools, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available on our ICT webpages. Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific modules.

Length of the programme

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised.

Additional costs

You will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, microphone and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme.

Electives and Pre-Foundation Assistantship

Any placement abroad, i.e. elective, may be cancelled or rescheduled due to UK national guidance or that of other countries. The College will need to adhere to partner institutions’ requirements as well as to UK travel advice.

Electives in 2022 may be undertaken at either one or two institutions. Electives at three or more cannot be considered. We recommend students planning a split elective organise one of the electives within the UK.

It may not be possible to protect the elective window if further changes to the course map are necessary, due to further disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as our priority will be to ensure that we can deliver any remaining placements, teaching and exams so that you can successfully complete the MBBS course and graduate. We understand that the ongoing COVID-19 situation means uncertainty, particularly about international travel. Please consider carefully before committing financially to an elective abroad and do consider opportunities available in the UK.

Students will have the option to participate in the Pre-Foundation Assistantship (PFA) after final examinations. Students choosing to take up this opportunity will be able to undertake either a four- or six-week assistantship. The PFA will provide an immersive opportunity for students to experience the practical role of a foundation doctor, embedded in the clinical team, prior to starting foundation training.

Location

As you will know, on-site teaching will primarily be delivered at the South Kensington and Charing Cross campuses as well as our partner NHS Trust/Primary Care locations, assuming national guidance at the time does not prevent this.

Your finances

Students are expected to fund their travel to placement sites as normal. Should changes to your accommodation or to the location of teaching to a campus or placement site not listed here occur as a result of future changes to local or national guidance, this may impact on travel costs. If changes to campus or placement site are necessary, we will advise you in advance.

All of our placements will be delivered in our unique range of affiliated hospitals, primary care providers and community services situated across Greater London and surrounding areas.

Students in receipt of an NHS Bursary (except for Fees Only bursary students) are eligible to claim for travel and accommodation costs incurred whilst on clinical placements, as long as they are made in accordance with the NHS Bursary guidelines for practice placement expenses claims. Claims must be submitted within nine months of the last date of the placement being claimed for.

 NHS Bursary Practice Placement Expenses provide reimbursement towards the cost of:

  • Travel to and from the student’s placement site (if this is in excess of normal travel costs to university)
  • Temporary accommodation if the student has to stay away from their normal term-time accommodation whilst attending a placement.

Additional costs

You will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, microphone and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these. Eligible students may apply for financial support from the Student Support Fund. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme.

For those who find themselves in financial difficulties, the School of Medicine Hardship Fund is available. All students are welcome to apply multiple times as circumstances require. You can contact FEO Welfare (feo.welfare@imperial.ac.uk) directly or find all the information on this via the Your Finances section on MedLearn.

Professional accreditation

Professional accreditation with the General Medical Council for this programme remains in place even though it is being delivered in multi-mode format for next year.  We will not change how your degree is awarded. Medicine will continue to be a pass/fail course.

Visas and Immigration

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College.

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email on international@imperial.ac.uk. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK.

Next steps

We are looking forward to welcoming you back to College for 2021-22.

If any of your health circumstances have changed, please contact us so we can support you and ensure that an individual risk assessment is undertaken if necessary. There are a range of options for supporting you and we will work with you, Occupational Health, and placement providers to reduce the risk of returning to your studies for you and your household wherever possible.

Throughout Year 6, you will continue to receive a weekly bulletin every Monday, directly to your College email address. Please ensure you read your bulletins carefully as this is how vital information from the School will be communicated. Email will remain the School’s primary mode of communication with you.

Professor Amir Sam & Dr Omid Halse
Head of Imperial College School of Medicine & Director of MBBS Phase 3 (Years 5 and 6)