There’s no two ways about it: 2020 has been pretty different than any other year we’ve been around!  

Over the course of the last few months, the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has created some huge hurdles, shut down big parts of our lives and forced us all to think hard about how we go out, eat, drink and interact with each other. 

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, here. The University of Stirling is getting ready to welcome students back onto campus in September and kickstart another memorable year of teaching and activities. We’re so excited to see you guys back here where you belong, and we hope you’re excited, too! 

But just like everything else in 2020, uni has got to be a little bit different this year. Don’t panic: you’re still going to have the time of your life. But there are lots of new safety measures you need to remember and things you should bear in mind during your first semester with us. 

To help you prepare, here are a few of the ways Stirling is going to look a little bit different in 2020: 

  1. You’ve got to scan to enter buildings 

Every time you enter a building here on campus, you’ll be asked to scan a QR code on your mobile using your phone camera. You’ll then need to complete a short form in your browser to register your attendance each day.  

Why? The information you share is to help with contact tracing. That means if somebody on campus is diagnosed with COVID-19, that data can be shared with the NHS Scotland Test and Protect team to help keep everybody else safe. 

You only need to scan into each building once a day, and you don’t need to scan out. Want to make it seem like fun instead of a chore? Pretend you’re in a cool sci-fi movie. That’s what we do. 

Don’t have your phone on you? Oops. You’ve still got to register through an online browser even if you haven’t got your mobile. Take a note of the short URL on the QR code posters and enter this into a browser as soon as you can to complete the form. 

  1. There will be lots of face coverings and hand sanitizer 

To keep you safe on campus, we’re listening to Scottish Government advice. That means it’s now mandatory to wear a face coverings in all enclosed spaces where physical distancing isn’t possible. 

Face coverings have got to be worn in: 

  • Macrobert Arts Centre 
  • Catering outlets where there is no table service 
  • Library and on-campus retail outlets 
  • When entering student flats and room 
  • Prayer rooms 
  • When receiving first aid (where and when possible) 
  • At fire assembly points (where two metre distancing cannot be achieved) 
  • In any other specific areas indicated by signage 

We’re asking everyone to commit to the Stirling Campus Pledge, which includes wearing a face covering.  

Forgot your face covering? Don’t panic. We’re got a limited number of masks available in buildings, but you’re encouraged to bring your own.  

There are lots of weird and wonderful designs getting pushed out by High Street retailers, so you can still make a fashion statement while staying safe! 

  1. Online learning is king 

You’re still going to get the five-star teaching (QS World University Rankings 2020) here at Stirling that you were expecting. But for our first semester, that teaching will look a little bit different. 

You’ll be taught mostly through our virtual learning environment: Canvas. Canvas is a supportive, intuitive learning space you can access on any device, and free WIFI is available throughout campus to make sure you can plug in anywhere.  

Most lectures and seminars will be replaced by webinars, videos and other online tutorials. There will be a few exceptions for courses that need access to labs and practical work – but most of your first semester learning is going to be done online.  

That means you can wear your pyjamas to class with zero judgement! 

Don’t want to watch lectures on your phone or a tiny tablet? Don’t stress, you can borrow a laptop from the library whenever you want. 

  1. Sport is on (like Donkey Kong) 

Are you into sport? You’re in the right place, because Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence and the UK’s Sports University of the Year (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020). 

All of our sports facilities are reopening on Monday 7 September. We’ve reorganised our gym to make sure you can lift and do cardio while observing physical distancing rules. You’ll have to book gym sessions online in slots, and bookings can be made on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

Our fitness classes like Zumba, HIIT, yoga and indoor cycling are back on! You can book classes online, and physical distancing measures will be in place. 

Into team sports? Our Sports Union teams are looking for new members and ready to start training again. You can experiment with new sports and different clubs as part of our annual Freshers Give It As Go event starting 18 September. 

  1. Nightlife is going to be a bit…quieter 

Let’s face it: nightclubs aren’t going to be open when you arrive here in Stirling. They’re hot, sweaty and busy – so social distancing is pretty much impossible. But, hey: they’ll reopen sooner or later, and you’ll totally be able to make up for lost time!  

But for now, you’ll have to stick with quieter (but still great) alternatives. 

We’ve got lots of great activities lined up for Freshers this year, you can still join clubs and societies to make new friends, do stuff outdoors or hit the pub if you fancy a couple of pints. 

You can also take part in all sorts of virtual events as part of our new Be Connected programme. It brings everything from live workout and dance classes hosted by our Sports Centre staff, to mindfulness meditation sessions from Student Support Services and CV masterclasses from our Careers team all in one place.

So, be smart and get involved! This year is going to be different, sure. But it’s going to be great. 

Questions about your first semester at Stirling? Give us a shout. We’re here to help, and we want to do everything we can to make sure you have an amazing start to your uni experience.