Universities: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Colleen Fletcher Colleen Fletcher Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) the number of (i) international student numbers and (ii) domestic student numbers intending to take up a university place in the 2020 academic year and (b) research and innovation funding.

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

We are very grateful for the work that universities are doing in supporting students, undertaking ground-breaking research and providing specialist equipment. We are working closely with them to understand the financial risks and implications that they might face at this uncertain time.

The COVID-19 outbreak will have an impact on international students. The government is working to ensure that existing rules and regulations relating to international students, including visa regulations, are as flexible as possible under these unprecedented circumstances.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced an unprecedented package of support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a range of business loan schemes, to help pay wages, keep staff employed and support businesses whose viability is threatened by the outbreak.

We recently confirmed universities’ eligibility for these schemes, and we are working closely with the sector, the Office for Students (OfS) and across the government to understand the financial risks that providers are facing, stabilise the admissions system and help providers to access the support on offer.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and UK Research and Innovation analysts are working closely with the Department for Education, OfS and wider non-government stakeholders to undertake a rapid programme of analysis to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on a range of research institutions including universities and analyse suitable policy responses.

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