Students 'allowed to go home for Christmas' but some will have to self-isolate beforehand

29 September 2020, 12:51 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 15:28

By Asher McShane

Students in coronavirus lockdown will be allowed to go home for Christmas but many will need to self-isolate before they are allowed to leave, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson said the Government will work with universities to make sure all students are supported to return home for Christmas if they choose to do so.

He said: "I know there has been some anxiety about the impact safety measures will have on the Christmas holidays.

Read more: University lockdown - explained

"Students are important members of the communities that they choose to study in. We expect them to follow the same guidance as those same local communities.

"We are going to work with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones if they choose to do so."

His statement comes as a surge in Covid-19 cases has led to thousands of students having to self-isolate at universities including Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan and Edinburgh Napier.

According to university statements and local press reports this month, at least 30 institutions across the UK have seen confirmed coronavirus cases.

The outbreaks and subsequent student accommodation lockdowns led to the Labour demanding clarity over whether students would be able to safely return home this Christmas.

Concerns have also been raised over the level support being offered to self-isolating students.

Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), claimed on Monday that some of those self-isolating felt they were being "trapped" in "disgusting conditions".

Mr Williamson said universities have been asked to provide "additional help and practical support" to students, with universities ensuring those isolating are "properly cared for" and can access food, medical and cleaning supplies if needed.