Coronavirus: Students

Department for Education written question – answered on 11th January 2021.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the spread of covid-19 of students returning to their university residences after Christmas 2020.

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

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our higher education institutions during this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

On 7 January we published updated guidance on ‘Students returning to, and starting higher education, in Spring Term 2021’. This sets out that most students should not return to university and should study from their current residence, where possible, until at least mid-February. Only those students who are on courses which are most important to be delivered in-person, to support the pipeline of future key workers, should return to university as planned. Other students are being asked to stay where they are and access their learning online during the period of national restriction. These students should be able to return, on a staggered basis, once national restrictions are lifted. Further information on this guidance is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950367/Students_returning_to_and_starting_higher_education_in_Spring_Term_2021.pdf.

All students should be offered testing on their return to university and we strongly encourage them to take this up. Any returning student who chooses not to be tested should self-isolate for 10 days.

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