In an effort to avoid coronavirus outbreaks and get students home safely before Christmas, an evacuation-style operation will be launched.
Mass testing will be conducted on campuses across England and universities will set departure dates from 3 to 9 December after the four-week lockdown. Students will be offered rapid tests and those who test positive would remain in self-isolation for 10 days.
On Tuesday night, the Department of Education (DfE) announced that the week after the national lockdown will be the “student travel window” and urged students to travel during this period.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group of research universities, backed the announcement. But he said: “However, a mandatory cut-off date for in-person teaching to deliver a ‘student travel window’ does create practical challenges for universities, which our members will now work hard to mitigate.”
The government`s plans for the “student travel window” has prompted concerns among university staff and students ” as universities sought assurances on funding and protections from being prosecuted before committing to plans for a mass testing scheme on campuses.
All students will have to follow government travel guidance including wearing face coverings, avoiding busy routes and times, and only car sharing with their household bubble group.
NUS president Larissa Kennedy reacted to the new guidance saying: “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.”
When universities reopened thousands of students were infected despite universities` efforts, sparking concerns that students will bring the virus back home with them for the holiday.