‘I literally can’t go home for Christmas’: Lincoln students react to the ‘travel window’

‘I gamble having to spend the festive period alone’

Last week the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, set out advice for students who want to return home for the Christmas holidays this winter. With the national month lockdown coming to an end in just over two weeks, the minister proposed the ‘travel window’ plan for students wanting to spend the Christmas holidays at home.

In an Internal Communications email, University of Lincoln students were told: “Students who do wish to return home for the holiday should travel during the ‘travel window’ from 3rd to 9th December.

“To facilitate student plans, universities will provide (with the exception of certain exempt courses, details of which will be advised by Government in the next few days) all teaching online from 9th December until the end of the winter term, which at Lincoln is 18th December. We will work with our local public health professionals to develop further travel advice.”

With the travel window being set weeks before Lincoln’s end of term, many students with part-time jobs are left having to risk either losing their jobs or staying in Lincoln for Christmas, away from their families. We spoke to students who voiced their concerns on the government’s ‘travel window’.

‘I think it’s ridiculous’

A third year student at the university said: “I think it’s ridiculous. They’ve not shown any care or consideration to students. They have forced us to go online after lockdown – I know for one, I have awful wifi at home so essentially, I’m going to have to choose between uni work and Christmas.”

‘I gamble having to spend the festive period alone’

A student at Lincoln who works part-time, said: “My housemates and I all have part-time jobs. I work as a waitress and this industry is particularly busy around Christmas time. This means I will risk losing my job if I have to leave Lincoln around the window time but if I stay in Lincoln to work, I gamble having to spend the festive period in my house, alone, without my family.”

‘The thought of spending a month at home is daunting’

Another student said: “I don’t want to go home, especially not that soon. My mental health will seriously deteriorate if I spend too much time at home. I was only planning to stay about a week at home around the Christmas period, the thought of spending a month at home is daunting.”

‘I literally cannot go home for Christmas’

Another University of Lincoln student told the Tab: “They are basically saying ‘If you have a part-time job at your uni, you can’t go home for Christmas or you’ll lose your job!’ I literally cannot go home for Christmas this year if I want to keep my job. I think these guidelines are ridiculous.

“I’m going to have to stay in Lincoln. My partner and I, have just bought our first house and we are saving up for furniture so I can’t afford to lose my job right now. I have no choice.”

‘It doesn’t make sense’

A Master’s student at the university said: “I don’t think it makes sense. It puts a lot of student jobs at risk. If pubs and bars are allowed to open up once December hits as they have originally stated but students ‘have’ to travel home in the window, what happens to those days and hours of work that’s missed?

“That’s a loss of earnings, I understand what the intention was, but once again I don’t think it was very well thought out to be inclusive to all aspects of university life.”

Students who want to remain in Lincoln over the Christmas period are allowed to do so and “the university will provide support for students who wish to do so. We will update our students and staff as soon as we have more information.”

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