Ventilation in Universities: Government Funding

Education – in the House of Commons on 6th September 2021.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury)

What funding the Government have provided to universities for effective ventilation to help safeguard students against covid-19 in the 2021-22 academic year.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

Higher education providers should complete suitable and sufficient assessments of the risk of covid-19 and identify measures to manage those risks, including ensuring adequate ventilation based on our comprehensive guidance. As autonomous institutions, it is for providers to put in place their plans based on individual circumstances, including allocating their own budgets.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury)

Notwithstanding the Minister’s comments, there are still huge gaps in what needs to be done to provide a safe learning environment for students up and down the country. Students, including many from my Edinburgh West constituency, have already had two academic years disrupted and proper ventilation will be vital to preventing a third, so will the Minister make a commitment here and now that if the schools test pilot currently under way proves successful, it will also be rolled out in our universities?

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

The hon. Member talks of Edinburgh university but I am sure she will understand that education is in fact devolved. She also refers to the CO2 monitoring devices that are being allocated this term to schools; however, technical limitations mean that CO2 monitors are likely to be unsuitable for many spaces in universities, particularly those with high ceilings.