Universities: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 2nd November 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assurances his Department has received from universities in (a) tier 3 and (b) tier 2 areas of measures put in place to mitigate (i) covid-19 transmission levels and (ii) related public health risks.

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

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) and the wider community is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission in this unprecedented situation.

Our system of HE tiers, as set out in guidance, intends to help universities identify the appropriate restrictions to impose on their educational provision in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. This is particularly important when there is a change to the local COVID alert level. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

We have worked to ensure that all universities have outbreak plans. These have been shared with local Directors of Public Health and continue to be reviewed and updated based on emerging lessons and local situations, including changes to the local COVID alert level. The plans cover a range of scenarios and will ensure that HE providers are prepared to respond quickly to an outbreak in their educational setting or wider community.

Implementation of these plans is for the universities themselves, working with local public health and local authority colleagues.

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