To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking the help ensure that universities can deliver safe (a) teaching and (b) student services during the covid-19 outbreak.
The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE providers in this unprecedented situation, while mitigating the impact on education.
We have drawn on the expertise of the HE taskforce that we set up, and we have been providing robust public health advice and regular updates to the HE sector to help providers to plan carefully to keep students and staff as safe as possible.
We have also updated our guidance for providers on reopening campuses, which provides advice on teaching, accommodation and services to students. Our guidance takes account of the latest scientific advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which has been considering the risks of re-opening HE providers. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses. As with all of our education settings, we continue to monitor the situation closely and follow the latest scientific advice, adapting policies as the situation changes.
We have worked with universities to ensure that they all have response plans for the COVID-19 outbreak. These have been or are being agreed with local Directors of Public Health. The plans cover a range of scenarios and ensure that providers are prepared to respond quickly to an outbreak in their university or wider community.