Universities UK “Hugely Disappointed” With Government’s Decision to PostponeStudents’ Return Until May

United Kingdom Europe COVID-19 Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 14, 2021

London UK

The British government’s decision to not return students for in-person classes until May 17 has caused the education advocacy organization Universities UK (UUK) to react through a press release published on April 13.

According to the President of UUK, Julia Buckingham, the decision comes at a critical time of the year, when students need their teachers’ guidance on upcoming final exams.

“This is hugely disappointing news for all those students in England who have been learning online since December, and comes at a crucial time in the academic year when in-person support from tutors and friends is highly valued by students ahead of their end-of-year exams,” President Buckingham stated in the press release issued by UUK.

She also noted that many students are desperate to return to campuses, especially for their learning and in-person activities, which the government agrees are “essential to their mental health and wellbeing.”

President Buckingham also demands the government to “urgently explain this decision.” 

With schools, colleges, and many businesses open, we now need the government to urgently explain how it reached this decision so that universities can communicate with their students and continue preparing to maximise opportunities for in-person activities from May 17,” she asserted.

The head of the UUK also highlights that universities have demonstrated they are capable of welcoming students back with their safety measures put in place.

Such measurements like regular asymptomatic testing, careful and extended cleaning, assistance for self-quarantined students, and dedication to guide students on face coverings and other protective measures make universities able to manage possible infections on campuses, while students receive their COVID-19 safe in-person teachings and universities prevent transmission of the virus to local communities.

Previously, UUK requested the government to provide mental health support for students who were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), two-thirds of students have claimed they suffered mental health problems during the academic year.

Another study related to students’ mental health during the pandemic, which was conducted by Higher Education Policy Institute in partnership with Youthsight, has revealed that nearly 58 percent of British students have reported a decline in their mental health.

In a poll in which 1,000 undergraduate students participated, about 16 percent of the latter declared they were unsatisfied with the mental health support universities and colleges have provided during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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