Online beer tasting and speed dating – fresher’s week 2020 style at colleges such as Goldsmiths and Imperial

By Rachael Burford, Local Democracy Reporter

London universities are rolling out a string of measures to keep students socially distanced during fresher’s week – including asking them to do online speed dating and beer tasting.

Student unions and universities have been working with councils over the summer break to ensure campuses are “Covid secure” for the start of term, with students unable to meet up in groups of more than six.

Goldsmiths University in New Cross has pushed back its term, with lessons not starting until October 5, and moved all of its freshers fair activities online next week.

It is hosting online speed dating, a virtual Sunday roast cook-a-long and an internet beer festival, where students will pick up their drinks from the union and take them home for a follow-along tasting.

Imperial College London has signed up to ‘The Digital Welcome’, where students can log in to an online replica of the campus and move around it “visiting” and signing up for various university societies all from their computers.

During its fresher’s events this week, the University of East London is hosting online Netflix watching parties and “speed meeting” so students can digitally introduce themselves to the people on their courses.

A Goldsmiths spokesman said: “We understand starting university in a pandemic is far from ideal and we want our students to be able to learn and socialise as safely as possible while following the rules.

“Since April we have been working closely with our local authority and local NHS partners to develop a plan to manage further outbreaks in the area.

“We have a comprehensive set of Covid safeguards in place on our campus and trust our students to do the right things.”

The National Union of Students vice-president Hillary Gyebi-Ababio added: “We’ve been hugely impressed with local preparations.

“We’ve seen students’ unions innovating with online activity, socially-distanced activities and physical spaces and loads of additional wellbeing support on offer.

“I think it’s really important to stress that students are doing exactly what they’ve been told to do.”

Pictured top: Fresher’s week – like most things – will look very different this year


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