Students’ Return to Universities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 29th September 2020.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education 12:43 pm, 29th September 2020

The hon. Lady is probably aware that we are doing more tests a day than ever before: 225,000 tests every single day. We are increasing the testing capacity to 500,000 by the end of next month. We recognise that this has to be targeted in areas of high need, such as the areas the hon. Lady has highlighted, but we will be asking—[Interruption.] If the hon. Lady is going to ask questions, she may want to have the opportunity to hear the answers.

We are asking students, where they get tested and there is a positive test, to self-isolate and, as in the wider community, that the immediate contacts also self-isolate. However, we do recognise how important it is for universities to be able to provide support for those youngsters—I touched on this in my statement—with food and cleaning products, and other support that may be available. My hon. Friend the Universities Minister spoke to the vice-chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan just yesterday, making clear our offer of support—we are there, standing behind universities and helping them to support their students—which is so critical. I know that is a view both the hon. Lady and I share.