Medics and geography students will be allowed back to uni in January before others

New government plans have said unis should stagger the return of students in January, prioritising certain courses

Unis have been told to stagger the return of students over a five-week period in January, and to not let students back until face-to-face teaching has resumed.

Students on certain courses will be allowed back first, with medics, nurses, geography students, and sciences students to be prioritised between 4th January and 18th January – making for the worst refreshers week imaginable.

All students should get Covid tests when they return for spring term, under new government guidance published today.

Students on non-practical courses will be only allowed to return from 25th January, if unis follow the new rules.

In this second period, second and third years, along with postgrads and international students, will be prioritised.

The full (non-exhaustive) list of courses prioritised by the government:

• nursing, midwifery and allied health professions

• scientific or technology subjects that require time in laboratories or use of expensive equipment (for example, chemistry, physics, bio-sciences, engineering)

• medical degrees involving lab work, practical instruction and placement inside hospitals (for example, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science)

• initial teacher training (ITT)

• architecture and planning

• art and design

• geography and environmental studies

• music, dance, drama and performing arts

• courses that are delivered solely to commuter students (where there are no residential students on the course)

• courses which require an externally moderated or invigilated assessment, or exams from a professional body which take place during these five weeks and cannot be rescheduled

• other courses with clearly defined practical elements

• other courses where the student is on placement or in paid employment in January (for example, degree apprenticeships and sandwich placements)

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