Williams continued by stating that the University is “trying to make sure that what we are offering this year is a fair assessment and a level playing field for all students”. However, Declared to have Deserved Honours and Declared to have Deserved Masters degrees will still continue to be options for those who are “unable to take these assessments”. The previous safety net policy gave “faculties the choice of how results are calculated, with the option to exclude or adjust the weighing of results obtained in remote assessments” with the aim that no student should be “disadvantaged by the conditions in which they revise for and sit their exams in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic”. At a COVID-19 question and answer session on Tuesday 17th November, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Martin Williams, confirmed that there are no plans for a safety net policy for examinations taken this academic year, stating that we are “in a significantly different situation to last year” and “students engaged with alternative forms of assessment very well”. Student responses to the webinar were mixed. While some were encouraged by the question and answer session, saying “thank you… all you’ve done so far, it’s really impressive”, another was far more damning, claiming that “communication has been terribly short-sighted, making planning impossible and increasing anxiety”. Tuition fees and finances Residency requirements Regarding the University’s overall response to the pandemic, Young was more positive, saying he “feel[s] reasonably comfortable that in Oxford we’ve handled the pandemic well, certainly in comparison to other universities”, helped by the collegiate system and the adoption of households within colleges. He continued that “the household system has been the reason we’ve managed to contain Covid… they have a price, which is the self-isolation of a larger group, but it’s a price I think is well worth paying”. However, he said that he hoped, over the vacation, colleges would consider their household arrangements so “friendship groups can migrate into households”. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor praised the “really fantastic, constructive behaviour from [the] student body” and the slight drop in coronavirus cases. Professor Chris Conlon (Professor of Infectious Diseases, and Chair of the University Health Medical Advisory Group) elaborated on this, saying there has been “very little transmission of infection within departments and almost none within teaching spheres”. Some students did raise the possibility of a tuition fee refund or reduction, citing lack of access to facilities under the current circumstances. Williams stated that he would “push back on the idea that the university is spending less on providing education this year” and that “at this stage, we are not considering any fee reductions”. Miles Young, the Warden of New College and Chair of the Conference of Colleges, continued that there has been a “huge extra cost”, including buying perspex and “ensuring that tutorials are delivered properly”, particularly “at a time when our revenues are absolutely diminished by loss of all sorts of revenue streams”, such as conferences and visiting students. He concluded: “The problem smaller colleges have is, frankly, finding a way to survive”. 2021 exams Williams also discussed the likelihood of alternative modes of assessments, including open-book exams or examinations sat remotely, saying “we think about two-thirds of exams will switch to an alternative format”, but that some for some courses, particularly those which deal with “mathematical problem-solving”, examinations should still be taken in person and invigilated traditionally. Pandemic response Image Credit: Billy Wilson // Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0. Many questions were raised regarding plans for Hilary term. Professor Roger Goodman, the Co-Chair of the Hilary and Trinity Term Co-ordination Group, explained that the University is “still at the mercy of government regulations” regarding an in-person term, but that – barring government regulations – students should expect to return to their colleges in January. Explaining the University’s decision to make residency required rather than optional, Williams stated: “our feeling is that there is a lot more to being an Oxford student than just the face-to-face teaching”, including “access to labs, access to libraries, access to each other, to the opportunity to work in a scholarly environment”. Addressing those who are studying remotely this term after applying for an exemption to the residency requirements, he explained that “students who were granted a residency exemption this term [which he clarified to be before 1 November] will be able to roll that over to next term if they wish” but that he “would encourage students to return to Oxford if they can”.
View Comments The twelfth annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) kicks off on July 7. Over the course of three weeks, dozens of new shows will show what they’ve got to investors, insiders and those musical theater early adopters. The festival fostered such favorites as Altar Boyz, [title of show], Next to Normal and (just last year) Clinton: The Musical, so here’s your chance to say you saw it first. We perused the list of this year’s entries; here are eight shows with titles, premises, creative and stars that have our attention. For the full lineup and tickets, visit the NYMF website. Tonya and Nancy: The Rock OperaFull production; July 9, 11, 12, 14 & 16It’s a tale we all know too well. Take figure skating’s most infamous brawl, add some glam and turn it into a musical comedy. And that’s just what creator Elizabeth Searle and composer Michael Teoli did. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan’s 1994 Olympics debacle, knee whack and all, heads to the stage with Rent alum Tracy McDowell and Wicked’s Jenna Leigh Green. Having seen an earlier production at the American Repertory Theatre’s workshop space Oberon, we can promise a night of camp, belting and maybe at one point a fantasy boxing sequence.Manuel Versus The Statue of LibertyFull production; July 21, 22, 25, 26 & 27The 2014 Developmental Reading Series Award-winning tuner gets a full staging at this year’s festival. Noemi de la Puente, David Davila and Howard Post’s show inspired by the true story of a Princeton student who came to America as an undocumented child immigrant from the Dominican Republic. He gets the chance to study at Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, but can’t leave the country. Cue a boxing match with Lady Liberty herself (played by the electrifying Shakina Nayfack) that bring the fight for immigration reform to the ring.Where All the Rivers Go to SleepConcert; July 18 & 19Cora, a young prostitute, falls in love with a Creole woman named Apolline and introduces her to live in the brothel. When Apolline’s husband returns from the north, love turns to jealousy and desperation as Cora sets out to keep Apolline. An interracial lesbian relationship in New Orleans’ red-light district may not seem like a story crying out for a musical treatment, but what we’ve heard of Jesse Gelber and Kate Manning’s score is captivating. Think Jerome Kern meets Scott Joplin meets Louis Armstrong. Hear it in concert with a 12-piece orchestra.Held MomentarilyFull production; July 20, 23, 25, 26 & 27It’s a horrific pair of words that New Yorkers hear all too often. Trapped on a subway train with five strangers is no fun, and it’s less fun when one of them just went into labor. Oliver Houser brings his show to NYMF after presenting it at the 2014 NY International Fringe Festival. The ensemble cast includes The Voice finalist India Carney. Singing on the train is a faux pas, but after listening to her, we’ll give her a free pass.Song for the FallenFull production; July 21, 24, 25, 26 & 27She’s the famed 19th century Parisian courtesan you know and love. Maybe. Marie Duplessis gets an MTV makeover in a vaudevillian cabaret that serves as her final lavish party before (spoiler) dying of consumption. She’s inspired such characters as La Dame Aux Camelias and La Traviata’s Violetta and Moulin Rouge!’s Satine. Now, she’s telling her own story in a show by the Australian-based Sheridan Harbridge (who also stars as Marie) and Basil Hogios. Remember: She’s not dancing too fast; it’s the violins that play too slowly.The Runaway CloneReading; July 9 & 12It’s the year 2250. Thanks to a mysterious agency, cloning is a very real cure for feeling lonely or missing deceased loved ones. But can memories be cloned, too? It’s a madcap premise, and having attended an earlier reading last year, we can promise you it’s kookier than it sounds. But book writer Pamela Eberhardt brings plenty of heart to human and almost-human relationships, and composer Jonathan Brenner’s melodies are remarkable and—truly—uncloneable.RailsReading; July 17 & 20Tom Kenaston and Tom Paitson Kelly’s musical spans four generations as Maggie, just before moving to a senior home, goes on one last journey through her own life story with her grandson. As we learned from another multigenerational musical about passing on tales, be the hero of your story, and the world will soon be yours, right? A host of Broadway names will take part in the developmental reading, including Joe Cassidy (If/Then), Matthew Hydzik (Side Show), Leah Horowitz (Follies) and Robb Sapp (Wicked).Claudio QuestFull production; July 7, 10, 12, 13 & 14Three things that we’ve always said musical theater needed more of: video game princesses, killer eggplants and platypuses. This new show from Drew Fornarola and Triassic Parq’s Marshall Pailet has all three. Avenue Q Tony nominee John Tartaglia directs the tuner about two brothers on an 8-bit mission. And in true Tartaglia fashion, there are puppets. The cast features a mix of fresh faces and Broadway alums, including Rock of Ages’ Andre Ward and Bring It On’s Lindsey Brett Carothers. Controller sold separately.