The UK government has published new guidance for higher education institutions concerning the lockdown in England, which confirms that face-to-face teaching can continue where possible, and clarifies that libraries and shared-study spaces will remain open for students to access.
Commenting on the guidance, Professor Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK said:
"This guidance provides much-needed clarity for university staff and students on the new lockdown restrictions in England.
"Students and young people suffered enormously from reduced social contact and disruption during the first national lockdown, so it is even more important that they can get on with their education during the period of enhanced restrictions starting this week. We welcome both the government's confirmation that it does not want or expect a transition to full online learning, as well as their support for the blended approach being taken by the sector. Universities will continue offering some face-to-face learning and support where it is possible to do so in a safe physically distanced way, which we believe is important for the mental, emotional and educational wellbeing of students.
"We also welcome confirmation that Covid-secure libraries and study spaces can remain open, and that students can continue to socialise and exercise with members of their own household.
"We understand this is a tough time for students, but we urge them to follow the government's guidance and remain where they are for the duration of the new national restrictions. All universities will continue working hard to take care of both their physical and emotional wellbeing, by providing access to testing and health care, mental health support, food deliveries, laundry, and financial support.
"We await further guidance from the government on the possible roll-out of mass testing and plans for students to return home at Christmas."
Notes to editors
Universities UK (UUK) is the collective voice of 140 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk