Universities UK (UUK) has written to the UK government seeking an explanation for the lack of an announcement on student returns in England in Monday’s Covid-19 press briefing.
Universities and up to a million students were eagerly awaiting the government’s latest roadmap announcement, in anticipation that they would be able to return to safe, socially-distanced in-person teaching and learning from 12 April.
Instead, they have been met with a communications vacuum.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Professor Julia BuckinghamCBE, President, Universities UK said:
“The list of sectors which are allowed to operate in-person activities in England from 12 April is extensive – all shops, personal care businesses, gyms, spas, zoos, theme parks, public libraries and community centres – and restrictions will be lifted enabling people to travel anywhere in England for a self-catering holiday.
“It therefore seems illogical that students are not allowed to return to their self-catering accommodation and resume their studies in Covid-safe university facilities, particularly at this crucial time of the academic year. This is another blow for those students who have been studying online since early December, and you will be aware of many studies highlighting the impact on students’ mental health, wellbeing and development.”
UUK had previously made an evidence-based case to the government on the benefits of a 12 April return for students’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as the wide-ranging Covid safety measures in place on campuses that have successfully minimised virus transmission this year.
With no announcement forthcoming, UUK is now asking the government to publish the evidence behind its decision-making, and explain what steps they will take to support the mental health and wider prospects of every student still awaiting news on when they will see a return to in-person activities.