National lockdown ends prospect of face-to-face teaching for many university students

At 8pm on Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and announced another national lockdown. The message to “stay at home” ends the prospect of face-to-face teaching for many university students, who had been told it might return this term.

The PM did not mention Universities in his address, frustrating Nchimunya Mwaijumba, a first year Journalism with Creative Writing student at the University of Leicester, who said:

“I think that Boris Johnson needs to consider those that are actually taking money out of their pocket to pay full price for something we’re not truly getting.”

Previously published guidance for university students remains in place, including the advice to be tested twice upon arrival at university or to self-isolate for ten days.

Newly updated information on the government website says that students “undertaking training and studying for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned.” The courses are medicine and dentistry, subjects allied to medicine/health, veterinary science, education (initial teacher training) and social work.

It also includes courses “which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled.” The guidance says your university will notify you if this applies to you.

Otherwise, university students have been told to “remain where they are wherever possible,” if they are not studying the aforementioned courses, even if their course is also practical.

For students who are already living at university, they should not move back and forth between their university and home residences.

Laura May Bailey, a MA Museum Studies student, shared Nchimunya’s sentiment:

“I feel that students have been ignored and side-lined. While school pupils have had exams cancelled and extra help, university students are still expected to be paying full price tuition for online classes of significantly lower quality. It’s especially frustrating for those in private accommodation, who don’t even have the option of applying for refunds for rent.”

The PCV Education, Graham Wynn, at University of Leicester has released a statement responding to the PM’s announcement:

  • There will be no face-to-face teaching (unless the course is exempted) until mid-February at the earliest
  • Students should not travel to the University unless they need to return for health and well-being reasons, including not having appropriate access to study space or facilities in their non-university residence
  • Further details will be released tomorrow (Tuesday 5th)

He promises that the university’s “plans will protect your educational progress and support your well-being.”

In a statement released on January 1st, MP Michelle Donelan, the Minister of State for Universities, said the advice for students was “a necessary step given the rate of transmission across the country.” She has yet to respond to tonight’s announcement, in spite of calls from other MPs on Twitter to address university students.

Rhiannon Jenkins is a final year English student passionate about activism, film & literature and travel. She also acts as Arts & Culture Chief Editor. You can find her on twitter here: @jenksrhiannon

Image by Dom Fou, from Unsplash.

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