University students in England return to campus after months of remote lessons

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2:45am, Mon 17 May 2021
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University students in England will be returning to campus for in-person lessons and activities after months of remote learning.

Returning students will be expected to get tested for Covid-19 twice a week throughout the summer term.

Most students in England, apart from those on critical courses, were told not to travel back to their term-time accommodation as part of the third national lockdown announced in January.

Students on practical courses, who require specialist equipment and facilities, began returning to face-to-face teaching on March 8.

It is estimated that around half of students, including many arts and humanities students, were not able to return to in-person lessons until now.

Students have been encouraged to take a test via home or community testing at least one day before they travel back to their term-time accommodation.

All students will be encouraged to take three supervised Covid-19 tests three to four days apart at an asymptomatic testing site on campus. They will then be expected to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.

But university leaders have previously criticised the Government for delaying the return of face-to-face lessons for all students until near the end of the academic year.

In April, universities minister Michelle Donelan said a full return to campus would not be possible until mid-May at the earliest as the movement of students across the country posed “a risk for the transmission of the virus”.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures suggest that most students in England have already returned to their term-time accommodation.

More than four in five students said they were living at the same address in April as they were at the start of the autumn term – and the number of students living with their parents also dropped to just over a third.

Students who need additional mental health support, or who do not have access to appropriate study spaces at home, have been allowed to return to term-time accommodation during the third lockdown.

Many of the Russell Group universities – traditionally the most selective institutions – have already finished their teaching and are now running exams, which are being held remotely in many cases.

But students can return to campus for in-person activities, and university bars and cafes will be open after months of tough restrictions on socialising.

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