The Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, has announced that students will be advised to return to in-person teaching alongside Step 3 of the Government’s lockdown easing roadmap, no earlier than 17 May.
In a written statement to Parliament, Donelan said that this decision has been made as Step 3 of the roadmap will see the majority of indoor settings, including restaurants and bars, able to reopen.
This will mean that, until at least 17 May, all students who are not on practical or creative courses will be asked to remain where they are living and learn remotely.
However, Donelan said that the Government continues to recognise that “some students, such as those with inadequate study space and/or mental health and wellbeing issues, may need to return to their term-time address despite their teaching still being online.”
Alongside the further delay to in-person teaching, the Government announced an additional £15m of student hardship funding for this academic year, in recognition of the additional costs that some students may now face.
Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU President, said: “This week, students are able to go to the pub, get their haircut and even rent out a holiday home, but they cannot yet return fully to their studies. The complete lack of communication and guidance is hugely distressing for students who have had to overcome a huge number of challenges this year”.
“This is even more frustrating when the the Government has said that returning to education is a priority.”
In an email to students, Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffery said he was, “extremely disappointed with both the decision and the length of time it has taken for the Government to provide this guidance”.
“With others across the sector we have voiced our disappointment with the latest announcement at the highest levels.”