Covid: Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden defends students’ university return

Covid: Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden defends students’ university return

A sign saying Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Moderately various of students are environment aside in university lodging at the side of at Glasgow College

The custom secretary has defended students going again to varsity in England after a union labelled the scenario “shambolic”.

Oliver Dowden told the Andrew Marr Show veil it turned into as soon as main students did now no longer “quit a three hundred and sixty five days of their life” by now no longer going.

Labour has known as on the chief to purchase into myth pausing the return after Covid outbreaks intended thousands of students needed to isolate in their lodging.

A scientist who advises the chief said the scenario turned into as soon as “inevitable”.

Mr Dowden said: “Kids bag paid a huge mark at some level of this disaster and I judge it’s miles better pleasing to strive to receive them again – we bag got definite pointers for them to computer screen.”

It comes as the UK recorded an extra 5,693 instances and 17 deaths within 28 days of an main take a look at.

The preference of deaths recorded over the weekend tends to be lower than at some level of the week ensuing from reporting delays.

Media playback is unsupported for your instrument

Media captionOliver Dowden: “They’ll varsity and paying the prices accordingly”.

Prof Mark Woolhouse, who sits on the chief’s pandemic modelling neighborhood SPI-M, said the scenario turned into as soon as “entirely predictable” and had been modelled.

He said students weren’t accountable for the outbreaks and with students converging from across the nation it turned into as soon as “inevitable there would be some spread”.

Modelling showed the likelihood areas had been first-three hundred and sixty five days halls of location and face-to-face teaching, he said.

Within the meantime, three more Welsh counties are to face tighter coronavirus restrictions on Monday – which is willing to indicate practically two-thirds of the Welsh population will be below native lockdowns.

Students bag been told to isolate in their lodging at several universities in England and Scotland, at the side of round 1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan College – where students said they had been being averted from leaving by safety guards and police.

Ellie Jackson, a first-three hundred and sixty five days at Manchester Met, said: “We knew it would be varied however we didn’t judge it would be this varied.

“We bag been told, if we stride away, we’re going to no longer attain again.”

Fellow student Jaimick Shah said his flatmates had all tested negative however composed needed to isolate. “We’re struggling to receive meals because every person seems seeking to uncover it on the the same time,” he said.

Manchester Met said it had communicated with students “as soon as lets however it turned into as soon as now no longer that you just might per chance envisage to give indispensable developed glance ensuing from the requirement to implement the isolation practically straight away”.

The university said it turned into as soon as “urgently making ready a care kit” and financial strengthen for affected students to assemble constructive they’d the requirements they wanted.

The native College and College Union branch said it had raised issues that “the mass return of students would inevitably survey institutions change into Covid incubators” – however it said these warnings went unheeded.

In Scotland there are outbreaks on the College of Glasgow, where 600 students bag been environment aside, as smartly as at universities in Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland within the intervening time ban of us from visiting varied households in their dwelling – which procedure students cannot return dwelling to at least one other take care of in Scotland from university lodging for a transient finish without an inexpensive excuse, such as a family emergency.

Nonetheless, contemporary steering issued by the Scottish executive clarifies that students can return dwelling on a lengthy-term foundation.

Students who bag been told to self-isolate can return dwelling if they need strengthen to achieve so, at the side of bodily, financial or psychological health strengthen.

Media playback is unsupported for your instrument

Media captionDavid Lammy MP: “The executive is now threatening to lock them up at university”

Some students bag puzzled why they had been told to achieve to their university lodging when most of their teaching is being done remotely – and why they’re composed required to pay tubby tuition prices.

Mr Dowden said students’ ride before all the things of this term turned into as soon as “now no longer as it would be” ensuing from the disaster, however that they must composed composed pay tuition prices as they had been being taught.

Requested by Andrew Marr if students must composed receive their prices again, Mr Lammy said: “It be definite that there are in fact an entire bunch universities struggling financially so there is a stability right here to be struck. Moderately various us bag gone online, the important thing now might per chance be to receive students online successfully and for them to bag face-to-face [tuition] where it’s miles protected to achieve so.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green told BBC Breakfast the chief must composed purchase into myth pausing the delivery of term while an “efficient, environment pleasant testing gadget” turned into as soon as assign in discipline, with students given a assortment of studying from dwelling if they felt safer there.

Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students, said the union had “lengthy known as for online studying to be the default”.

“If [students’] quality of studying is severely impacted then we furthermore have to glance tuition prices reimbursed,” she said.

She said students wants in allege to be launched from condominium contracts at their university lodging and receive rent rebates so that they’d well even live at dwelling if they wished.

“We must undergo in tips this goes on since the chief and universities told students to achieve to campus and this shambolic scenario now calls for flexibility,” the union said.

Hundreds more students in England are turning up for the contemporary university term this weekend – however the mountainous request is whether or now no longer or now no longer they wants to be heading within the replace route and studying from dwelling.

Is it wise or pleasing for universities to bring students again if they’re at increasing likelihood of being in a Covid outbreak and having to self-isolate?

Accommodation blocks, with shared products and companies and stuffed with formative years seeking to socialise, bag already seen a wave of outbreaks. So must composed the brakes be applied to cease this sample repeating itself?

After recruiting tell numbers of students and promising them a mix of online and face-to-face teaching, it would be a in actuality awkward U-flip for universities to replace again to the educational the same of working from dwelling.

And would that indicate refunds on lodging and tuition prices?

There are likely to be some chaotic days ahead – and some mountainous selections to be made about whether or now no longer to reduce numbers on campus. And students must surprise how they’ve gone from being cooped up at dwelling all summer to now being cooped up in university.

Within the meantime, it has emerged that Training Secretary Gavin Williamson and Well being Secretary Matt Hancock wrote to directors of public health on Wednesday regarding the return of universities.

Within the letter, tweeted by Sheffield’s director of public health Greg Fell, ministers said they must composed formulate “a sturdy outbreak conception” in collaboration with increased education suppliers.

Within the case of native restrictions, they said public health directors must composed assemble constructive measures in response, such as closing some or all face-to-face studying “attain now no longer lead to a migration of students far from their term-time lodging again to their family properties”.

Are you a student? How are the guidelines affecting you? Share your experiences by emailing

Please encompass a contact number in case you are willing to dispute to a BBC journalist. It is possible you’ll well per chance furthermore receive fascinated regarding the following ways:

Be taught Extra