NUS questions legality of pre-Christmas Covid lockdown plan for English universities

15 October 2020, 10:34

By Sam Sholli

The National Union of Students is "questioning whether there's legal precedent" for a planned pre-Christmas lockdown for universities in England.

NUS President Larissa Kennedy made the union's position clear in response to ministers wanting to place universities in England into coronavirus lockdown for a fortnight in December.

Under the plan, universities would go into lockdown from 8 December until 22 December, with students told to stay on campus and all teaching to be carried out online.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Ms Kennedy said: "We really are questioning whether there's legal precedent to do this and to treat students differently than the rest of the population, largely because students just aren't the homogenous group that the Government seems to think they are.

"There are students of all ages, students who are parents and carers. I mean what would this mean for students with jobs that they can't do remotely?

"It just doesn't feel like this is thought through if this is still where the Government are at this stage."

When asked by Nick about concerns over students spreading the virus if they return home for Christmas, the NUS President replied: "The onus is with the Government to create a safe plan for exit for these students because this is a mess of the Government's own making.

"They ignored the advice from the Sage meeting on September 21st where the science indicated that we needed the immediate introduction of online teaching unless face-to-face [teaching] was absolutely essential.

"In ignoring that, this is a mess of their own making. Students should not be bearing the brunt of the Government's own shortcomings..."

Last month, Ms Kennedy also spoke of how students are "close to the brink" financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her remarks came after the NUS published a survey showing that 73% of students are concerned about being able to manage financially and now half plan to have a full or part-time job alongside their studies.