Higher Education: Ventilation

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th July 2021.

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Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance he has issued or plans to issue to vice-chancellors on ensuring adequate ventilation in universities and other higher education institutions to reduce risks of covid-19 infection; with reference to what standards vice-chancellors should plan and measure the effectiveness of that ventilation; what enforcement activity he plans to undertake to ensure guidance is followed and risk reduced; and whether he plans to make funds available to improve standards of ventilation in universities.

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

The department has published guidance for higher education (HE) providers for Step 4 of the government’s COVID-19 roadmap, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

From Step 4 of the roadmap, the guidance advises that it is important to ensure settings are well ventilated when in use and a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.

HE providers should assess the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace and identify control measures to manage that risk. They should identify any poorly ventilated spaces as part of their risk assessment and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas, particularly when holding events where large numbers of visitors are on site.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers COVID-19 advice provides more information. This can be found at: http://schools.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/schools/files/folders/folders/documents/healthandsafety/proceduresaz/CIBSE_Covid_19_Ventilation_guidance.pdf. The HSE may take action to improve control of workplace risks if needed, for example through the issue of enforcement notices to help secure improvements.

Improving ventilation can be achieved by a variety of measures and there is no separate funding source for ventilation in HE.

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