How Sussex University is preparing to let students travel home for Christmas

Plans include online teaching, rapid testing and a student travel window

The Department for Education have released plans for navigating the mass movement of students towards the end of term.

The University of Sussex, along with universities across the UK, is preparing to help students to return home safely, with plans including a shift to fully online teaching, rapid testing and a student travel window.

A new proposed testing programme for students was outlined in a letter from the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, stating the government’s plans for rapid mass coronavirus testing for students, set to start from November 30. The university is waiting for more guidance from the government, and students and staff will receive more information in the coming weeks. Any students who test positive will have to isolate for ten days in line with the current government guidelines.

A ‘student travel window’ has also been proposed in order to stagger travel times. Students are to be allocated leaving dates between December 3 to December 9. Additionally, all teaching is set to move online on December 9, aiming to limit the potential for spread of coronavirus.

Donelan told the BBC that even if students develop symptoms on December 9, the timing means they will still “have enough time to isolate and then return home for Christmas”.

However, she also stated “This is a choice. If they choose to leave after [December 9] they will run the risk of potentially not getting home to Christmas with that isolation window”.

Talking to the BBC, NUS president Larissa Kennedy said “The government have finally listened to our calls to ensure students can travel home safely for Christmas.”

“We particularly welcome this mass-testing approach as it equips students with the knowledge to make informed decisions about travel ahead of the winter break.”

If you are worried about coronavirus, you can contact the Student Life Centre for more advice and support. If you are struggling, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, day or night.