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Cambridge University threatens to withhold diplomas if students return home during lockdown

Students at Cambridge University have been told that if they leave their accommodation and return home, they will not be allowed to graduate. This comes as ministers urge students not to go home for lockdown. 

The warnings issued to students by several College principals cite the institution’s statutes, which require students to live within the university’s “precincts” during term time.

This is defined as within three miles of Great St. Mary’s church for undergraduates and within a 10-mile radius for graduates.

“If you do not have the College’s permission to study remotely, you will not be allowed to progress to the next year of your course or to receive your degree if you are a finalist,” the senior tutor at Jesus College said in an email seen by The Telegraph. 

The senior tutor at Robinson College has echoed this statement, as university leaders are accused of “strong-arming” students to stay in their College accommodation during lockdown.

“A lot of us think if there is no academic or social reason to be here we would rather be with their families, they don’t want to be locked up here and forced to pay for the privilege,” one student said. 

They are relying on an ancient rule which isn’t fit for purpose and is essentially being used to strong arm students into staying in their Colleges on pain of potentially withholding their degree

– Cambridge University student

“They are relying on an ancient rule which isn’t fit for purpose and is essentially being used to strong arm students into staying in their Colleges on pain of potentially withholding their degree.”

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to vice-chancellors to say that students should not return home before or during lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

She also urged against the full implementation of online classes, warning it would be detrimental to learning and “risk students’ mental health.”

A Cambridge University spokesman said that the institution is following Government guidance by asking students in residence to remain in the city and avoid travel during the lockdown.

“Longstanding University of Cambridge rules on residence remain consistent with that guidance,” they said. “Our main priority is to protect the health of our staff and students.”

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