Universities have asked students to continue staying in their term time address, at least until the end of lockdown on 2 December.
This request was made to “avoid any further spread of Covid-19”, according to Michelle Donelan, the Minister of State for Universities, in the case that a rush of students attempt to leave their universities.
This decision was made in line with the four-week national lockdown announcement on 31 October. Schools, colleges, and universities are to remain open, subject to the new lockdown regulations.
Following the government announcement, Warwick University vice-chancellor Stuart Croft similarly issued a statement asking students to stay at their term-time accommodations.
“To minimise virus transmission rates, and in line with clear government guidance, students must not move back and forth between their student and permanent homes during term time. All students should remain in their student accommodation until the end of term,” the statement reads.
This decision has raised concerns from students who want the support of their families during the isolation period.
To minimise virus transmission rates, and in line with clear government guidance, students must not move back and forth between their student and permanent homes during term time
– Stuart Croft, Warwick University vice-chancellor
The National Union of Students (NUS) say students should have the choice to go home safely ahead of the lockdown to account for mental health concerns.
NUS president Larissa Kennedy said the government must “stop subjecting [students] to stricter rules than everyone else” and ensure students are able to travel home safely before lockdown starts.
It remains unclear how or when the departure of students at the end of term for Christmas will be managed. Government guidance states that end-of-term travel arrangements will be published soon.
England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson suggested that in-person teaching should stop two weeks before the usual end of term in order for students to head home.
Jo Grady, leader of the UCU union, stated that courses should be moved online straightaway, and the focus should be planning how students could “begin safe journeys home once lockdown has ended”.