Can university students go home for Christmas?
25 September 2020, 11:52
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility that students will be asked to stay at university over the Christmas holidays.
It has been suggested that students will be asked to stay at university over Christmas this year if the current coronavirus situation does not improve.
Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility that students won't be able to return home over the festive period.
His words came amid a number of outbreaks of Covid-19 on campuses across the UK - including Glasgow University - where 124 students have tested positive - and clusters at St Andrews, Oxford Brookes, Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan universities.
Will students be asked to stay at university over Christmas?
Speaking during a recent radio interview, the Health Secretary said: ""I don't want to have a situation like that and I very much hope we can avoid it.
"We have said throughout that our goal is to suppress the virus, whilst protecting the economy and protecting education.
"And protecting people in education whether it's school or university is obviously critical as is protecting the economy.
"In terms of universities, we are working very closely with them to try to make sure the students are safe, but that they can also get their education.
"I've learned not to rule things out and one of the challenges that we have is how to make sure people are as safe as possible."
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has said his government would "certainly contemplate" forcing students to stay at university over the holidays, adding that students "travelling across the country does bring an extra risk".
Jo Grady, the general secretary of the University and Colleges Union, has said that "threatening to lock students up over the festive period is not the solution" - and urged the government to ban in-person teaching and move all lectures and seminars online.
Speaking about the question of whether students will be forced to stay at university over the festive period, a spokesperson for Universities UK said, According to the Telegraph: "It is clear that this is not currently Government policy and we do not believe this course of action has been recommended by any health bodies or other experts."