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Students: Food

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th April 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide meals to students resident at hostels in the higher education sector who are unable to return to their home countries.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government is grateful for the huge amount of work being done across the higher education sector to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our students and institutions.

There will be many students – international students, along with students estranged from their parents and care leavers, among others – who remain in university-owned, or private university accommodation at present, particularly now government advice is for students to remain in their current residence, and not to return home. Higher education (HE) providers should aim to ensure that sufficient institutional accommodation is available to these students

In addition, the government has reminded HE providers of their responsibility to support services for students who remain on campus. This includes practical support to ensure students can access sufficient food and medical and cleaning supplies. HE providers have been asked to ensure catering staff are available to support on halls management, even in the event of wider university closure.

It is particularly important that universities who rely on outsourced staff, such as catering, who maintain the delivery of critical services and infrastructure, take appropriate measures to protect the health, safety and welfare of their staff.

The government is also working to improve joint continuity planning between HE providers and Local Resilience Forums to consider how to ensure availability of supply of food and medicines.

We stand ready to support HE providers in any discussion that is needed to ensure they have access to the right resources to care for their students. It is essential that students are reassured that their provider will continue to support them through these difficult and unsettling times.

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