Exclusive: Government aims to allow students back to uni on 8th March

The roadmap for universities is now the same as schools

The Universities Minister has revealed that university students are set to return on the 8th March, the same as schools, if Covid cases are low enough in the UK.

In an interview with The Tab, Michelle Donelan said: “Our number one priority will be getting students back as quickly as possible. It is the same roadmap as the one that is being laid out for schools. So, basically, on the week commencing 15th February, the government will review the situation.

“They will be looking at data including death rates, the virus rate, the vaccination programme and the pressure on the NHS. Then the decision will be announced on the 22nd February.

“From the 8th March, more students will be able to go back, should that be what we decide, and that does include higher education students.”

Donelan went on to clarify that whilst universities may have independently decided to postpone all face-to-face tuition for the rest of the term, for clarity’s sake the government “will be giving them the option to alter those plans or for those who haven’t announced that to bring students back.”

The minster’s primary concerns are students nearing graduation, students doing practical subjects, but “also all students in general because we are aware of the impact on mental health and general wellbeing.”

“My pledge to students is that we will give you that clarity as soon as we can, hopefully on the 22nd that we will be bringing students back on the 8th March”, she told The Tab.

Donelan also went on to talk about her commitment to supporting student mental health, highlighting: “This pandemic has put extra pressure particularly on the shoulders of students. We know that the pandemic has had a staggering impact on young people, especially those higher education students and all that they’ve been through.

“At every stage of the pandemic, I have reinforced and reiterated to universities just how important it is to prioritise mental health support and wellbeing support to students, and also communications to students to make sure we are giving as much clarity and certainty as we can give.”

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