Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Labour, Putney

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that universities provide Kosher food options to Jewish students who have been forced to self-isolate due to the covid-19 outbreak.

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

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 institutions in this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

HE providers are autonomous institutions, independent from government, and have a responsibility to students when delivering services, including the provision of pastoral support, and taking steps to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of students.

To support universities with this responsibility and ensure students are well looked after during self-isolation, the department has provided advice on self-isolating students in the ‘higher education reopening buildings and campuses’ guidance and the ‘end of term and spring term’ guidance. These can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

Universities UK have also produced a checklist for supporting students who are required to self-isolate, available here: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2020/uuk-checklist-support-self-isolating-students.pdf.

Furthermore, and to impress the importance of supporting self-isolating students, I have previously written to Vice Chancellors, asking them to ensure that all self-isolating students have a range of choices available for access to food and other essential supplies. This includes providing food that is free or at a price that can be afforded within a student’s budget.

I expect this support to continue in the spring term and for universities and other HE providers to be sensitive to the diverse needs of their student population in providing this support.

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