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Impact on Universities

HSTEd

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I'd say "proper" uni courses are worse - as well as nearly £10k in fees, students are also paying rent for a tiny room, which they don't really need but are not allowed to leave.

Are any of the students on this thread studying in Manchester? What on earth is going on there?


Quite simple, University PR apparatus was terrified of being blamed for a case cluster in South Manchester.
Reports from people I know in Residences are that they've had huge problems with massive parties and such - given that they have nothing in their timetable, not surprising.

And then add in standard uni bureaucracy screwups in not telling anyone they were doing it until it was already done.
 
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BJames

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I'm not leaving on the 6th. They can say what they want but I can't imagine many people round here leaving for Christmas then. I will be going back when I had previously intended to, which was at some point between 15th-20th December.
 

Domh245

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Here they go again with the stupid war time comparisons:

An evacuation-style operation will take place to get students home safely for Christmas after England's lockdown.
Working with their local public health bodies, universities will allocate their students travel slots during the week of 3 to 9 December.
As many students as possible will be offered rapid result Covid tests.
The timing of the government's "student travel window" means that those required to self-isolate will still be able to get home for Christmas.
The fact that it occurs after four weeks of national lockdown in England - ending on 2 December - means it could also reduce the risk of students taking the virus home with them.
Universities will have to move all teaching online from 9 December.
The distribution of rapid result Covid tests is set to begin at the end of November, and universities in areas with higher rates of the disease will be prioritised.
However, any student who tests positive for Covid will be required to self-isolate for 10 days under the current guidelines. But the timing means they would still be able to get back for the Christmas holidays.
Students are strongly advised to travel during the "travel window".
The Department for Education says universities will now start working with their local public health teams and local transport operators to manage the mass movement in a staggered fashion.
Universities should soon begin contacting students with allocated travel days, and some may hire coaches to help with the transportation.
The department insists there is enough capacity on the nation's public transport system for this to take place safely, adding that many students will have their own transport or be collected by parents.
However, Dr Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, said allowing one week for around one million students to travel "leaves little room for error".
"If the government instead told universities to move online now it would provide much more time to stagger the movement of students and better protect the health of staff, students and their wider communities," she said.
Details of plans to allow students in Scotland to return home for Christmas will be announced later.
BBC Scotland expects that students will be tested twice, five days apart, with those testing negative on both occasions able to travel home.
Students in a lab
IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group of research universities, welcomed the government's confirmation on the end of term.
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."
Students will be required to follow government travel guidance which includes wearing face coverings, avoiding busy routes and times, and only car sharing with their household bubble group.
Anyone wishing to travel after the travel window would have to follow self-isolation restrictions until they leave to be able to travel.
Despite universities' best efforts, many students contracted the virus within days of arriving on campus. An estimated 40,000 students have become infected whilst in their university towns, leading to thousands having to isolate.

Limit the spread​

This sparked concerns about infected students bringing the virus back home with them, thus accelerating the spread of the disease.
There were suggestions that students might have to remain at university for an extra two-week period, so they could isolate, before returning home.
But this was criticised by the National Union of Students as likely to have a negative effect on student mental health.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan said the government had worked hard to find a way to allow students home safely for the holidays, whilst limiting the risk of transmission.
"Now it is vital they follow these measures to protect their families and communities, and for universities to make sure they have their well-being support they need, especially those who stay on campus over the break."
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: "The mass movement of students across the country at the end of term presents a really significant challenge within the Covid-19 response."
University lecturers and the NUS had warned of the risks of bringing 1.2 million students back to universities since the summer, and urged ministers to move courses online as the default.
But the government had defended the continued use of face-to-face teaching.
Responding to the new guidance, NUS president Larissa Kennedy said: "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."

I really feel for students at university this year, it's been a travesty. Wouldn't be at all surprised if once they make it home for christmas, many don't go back..
 

PTR 444

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This so-called travel window (which BBC are reporting as their top story today) isn’t a bad idea in principle, but the fact that students are being forced to travel within a 6 day window is a really bad use of resources, not to mention the fact that it will increase the likelihood of viral spread (not everyone can use private transport). The easiest they can do is to extend that window for another week at least so travel can be more staggered.

Also what about the students who have part-time jobs and are required to work in their uni town after the 9th? I can see it being a massive PR disaster if those students are barred from going home for even one week of Xmas just because they stayed on a bit longer and worked extra hard.
 
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trebor79

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If there's no requirement for "normal" people to get a test before travelling to another part of the country before Christmas, I won't be getting one as a student. And I won't be going by the 6th either. I haven't actually really got any plans for Christmas this year, other than I'll be going home sometime around the 19th and get a few rail day trips done!
Good for you. This is just a completely ludicrous "plan".
Aside from anything else, how do they propose to prevent students travelling later in the month, at a time of their choosing? Firstly, there's no legal basis for doing so, and secondly it would be completely unenforceable. "Are you a student" "No". Or if you answered "Yes", what are they going to do, send you back halfway across the country?
Can they even force people to have a test?

I suspect when it's unveiled fully this will be a voluntary scheme dressed up to look mandatory - hence the quote in the article about "ensuring students can travel home in safety" - which just ignores the fact that students are not at risk from this illness but allows a face saving option should the PR backfire.
 

ABB125

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Good for you. This is just a completely ludicrous "plan".
Aside from anything else, how do they propose to prevent students travelling later in the month, at a time of their choosing? Firstly, there's no legal basis for doing so, and secondly it would be completely unenforceable. "Are you a student" "No". Or if you answered "Yes", what are they going to do, send you back halfway across the country?
Can they even force people to have a test?

I suspect when it's unveiled fully this will be a voluntary scheme dressed up to look mandatory - hence the quote in the article about "ensuring students can travel home in safety" - which just ignores the fact that students are not at risk from this illness but allows a face saving option should the PR backfire.
Indeed - it just seems to be totally pointless. Why should students have to go home weeks before Christmas, yet other family members won't have to if they're meeting up?

However, if the government is providing free rail travel for this "evacuation", sign me up! I'll then just go back again and leave as (not yet) planned :D No, I thought not, but it's nice to dream...
 

brad465

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Also what about the students who have part-time jobs and are required to work in their uni town after the 9th? I can see it being a massive PR disaster if those students are barred from going home for even one week of Xmas just because they stayed on a bit longer and worked extra hard.
Going from my student day experiences, there's a good chance that most of those who have part time jobs are working somewhere that's currently having to furlough them, namely restaurants, pubs/bars and non-essential shops (and I suspect even if these reopen they may end up being unfortunately made redundant or not brought back straight away while social distancing remains). There will I imagine still be some working to whom your concern will still apply, but I suspect the number affected by part-time work commitments is much lower compared to an average year before all this.
 

cuccir

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Agree with all above. These plans might have made sense if announced in September, alongside the start of the university term; they could (For example) have been made a condition of rental agreements for those in uni halls.

As it is they seem to be written entirely without consideration for the many students renting private homes, the many students who work, the many students who live at home, the many students who commute, the many students whose family home and uni home are a short distance from each other, etc etc etc.

And such a convoluted plan seems to make little sense if you don't have something in place for the January return either. If that happens as in September it'll inevitably lead to the same spike in cases we saw then, which will create pressure for lockdown and which will seed outbreaks that then spread to more vulnerable populations....
 

HSTEd

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I very much doubt any of the students who go home for christmas will be back.

The UoM PR machine is panicking and sending out emails about how incredible the student experience will be in Semester 2, but given what happened this time I don't think anyone believes them.
 

trebor79

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And such a convoluted plan seems to make little sense if you don't have something in place for the January return either.
I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be no return to campus in January, save for those courses which absolutely require a physical presence (I'd argue that learning online for those subjects where it is possible will be severely degraded though).

What a dreadful unnecessary mess.
 

PTR 444

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I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be no return to campus in January, save for those courses which absolutely require a physical presence (I'd argue that learning online for those subjects where it is possible will be severely degraded though).

What a dreadful unnecessary mess.
How will that work considering many students have paid huge sums for a year’s worth of accommodation if they won’t be able to return to it?
 

PTR 444

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Dare I say "refund"?
Unlikely! :D
No matter what the government says, I’ll be returning to halls in January regardless of whether university is open or not. I reckon a few others will do the same just to make the most of what they paid for.
 

trebor79

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How will that work considering many students have paid huge sums for a year’s worth of accommodation if they won’t be able to return to it?
Oh I'm not advocating it at all, but I wouldn't put it past the clowns in Westminster to cook something up. Probably something with no legal basis dressed up as a mandatory edict from the High Priests of Covid-19 as per this "evacuation plan".
 

ABB125

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No matter what the government says, I’ll be returning to halls in January regardless of whether university is open or not. I reckon a few others will do the same just to make the most of what they paid for.
Same - I'll be going back in January, because as far as I'm aware there's no way they can stop me living in a flat which I've paid for.
Perhaps a new law will appear over Christmas...
 

Domh245

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How will that work considering many students have paid huge sums for a year’s worth of accommodation if they won’t be able to return to it?

Some will no doubt be willing to take the financial hit if the experience has been miserable enough. That was the case earlier in the year when many people left private rented accommodation to complete the year back at their parents' (or elsewhere). Even some hall dwellers left and didn't receive refunds although these were generally in third party halls rather than directly university organised ones
 

Scotrail12

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Just heard that at Strath, we are having 3 weeks online at the start of the next semester and then over February, will "transition into blended learning".

The exact same email we were sent in the summer about this current semester. :rolleyes:

Doing the maths, that's nearly a full year (12 months) from when we were last physically in uni classes. And all for a virus that doesn't kill any healthy person of our age group...
 

_toommm_

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I can tell you now I won't be going home in that week. There'll be at least 50,000 students (literally) descending on Leeds Station, where the timetable still isn't 100%. I've sent a very long email to our Principal detailing why I feel it is a bad idea to have this mass exodus.
 

HSTEd

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University of Manchester now offering to release students from accommodation contracts on request.

I wonder how many people will stick around
 

A Challenge

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University of Manchester now offering to release students from accommodation contracts on request.

I wonder how many people will stick around
Are they doing any teaching in-person (excluding Medicine, Vet Science and similar), as if not I imagine most home students will leave, though for International students it starts to be a bit more complicated, not just with booked flights (even if they weren't to stay over Christmas because of self-isolation that will still be a problem)?
 

HSTEd

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Are they doing any teaching in-person (excluding Medicine, Vet Science and similar), as if not I imagine most home students will leave, though for International students it starts to be a bit more complicated, not just with booked flights (even if they weren't to stay over Christmas because of self-isolation that will still be a problem)?

None at the moment really.
They have been promised two hours per week starting next semester, but they were promised that in September and look how it turned out.
 
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So one of my flatmates developed symptoms this morning (no sense of taste). There are three of us, and my other flatmate is absolutely terrified, even insisting we wear masks and gloves outside our rooms in the flat, and that the one with symptoms doesn't go into the kitchen.

Despite this, they've happily gone over to Aldi and visited people in another flat. I'm just doing my best to avoid them at the moment. There's no way I'm wearing masks and gloves in my own home. It's their birthday next week too, and I get the feeling that won't be cancelled even with any positive tests.
 

BJames

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So one of my flatmates developed symptoms this morning (no sense of taste). There are three of us, and my other flatmate is absolutely terrified, even insisting we wear masks and gloves outside our rooms in the flat, and that the one with symptoms doesn't go into the kitchen.

Despite this, they've happily gone over to Aldi and visited people in another flat. I'm just doing my best to avoid them at the moment. There's no way I'm wearing masks and gloves in my own home. It's their birthday next week too, and I get the feeling that won't be cancelled even with any positive tests.
If they have done this then you can happily ignore them. If they say any nonsense like they will report you for not following hygiene procedures or if they say that you're being selfish, politely remind them you live there so can do what you wish and they are being much more selfish by telling you one thing and doing another. Not that I personally would have an issue with someone going round other places but I would if they're telling you what to do.

Elsewhere my uni seems to think they'll have capacity to test all of us before we leave. Yet their asymptomatic testing service is still only available to staff and postgrad researchers. They're running out of time to sort that one...!

We've had our nice study space turned into another dictatorship where security are now patrolling to tell people to wear masks while in the building (the building attendant literally couldn't care less as long as you made half an effort to wear it while walking around). Trouble is they seem to not understand that they can't be everywhere in the building at once. They told us, went round the building which took about 30 minutes and by the time they came back we had all taken masks off again. This happened about 3 or 4 times before they didn't come back. I dislike working in such an environment, don't like working at home but much prefer it to having to wear a mask. I still fail to see the difference here and in a cafe where you don't have to wear masks while sat at a table, but oh well... guess we'll see what the next few weeks bring.
 

trebor79

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Elsewhere my uni seems to think they'll have capacity to test all of us before we leave. Yet their asymptomatic testing service is still only available to staff and postgrad researchers. They're running out of time to sort that one...!
I'm not sure I understand why universities think they have to test you all before you leave. It's purely a political exercise to try and avoid further criticism (unwarranted in my view) of the government not preventing students attending campus.
I wouldn't comply if I was a student today. What are they going to do, imprison you and prevent you form leaving? I'm astonished at what's happening on university campuses, there's no way we'd have stood for it 20 years ago.
We've had our nice study space turned into another dictatorship where security are now patrolling to tell people to wear masks while in the building (the building attendant literally couldn't care less as long as you made half an effort to wear it while walking around). Trouble is they seem to not understand that they can't be everywhere in the building at once. They told us, went round the building which took about 30 minutes and by the time they came back we had all taken masks off again. This happened about 3 or 4 times before they didn't come back. I dislike working in such an environment, don't like working at home but much prefer it to having to wear a mask. I still fail to see the difference here and in a cafe where you don't have to wear masks while sat at a table, but oh well... guess we'll see what the next few weeks bring.
None of the rules make any sense. I'm not allowed to see my parents (though I've been going daily as dad's been in hospital but on pain of an ear bashing form my wife haven't taken the kids), but it's perfectly fine for them to have a gang of blokes in for 2 weeks fitting a new kitchen, and other tradesmen going things like fireplaces and chimneys. Now, who presents greater risk of infecting them, me sat in my home office all day every day, or a load of tradesmen working all over the place? It's the fact we're all treated like idiots for our own "protection", and it's the idiots that unquestioningly swallow this nonsense that the government panders to that really grinds my gears.
 

BJames

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I'm not sure I understand why universities think they have to test you all before you leave. It's purely a political exercise to try and avoid further criticism (unwarranted in my view) of the government not preventing students attending campus.
I wouldn't comply if I was a student today. What are they going to do, imprison you and prevent you form leaving? I'm astonished at what's happening on university campuses, there's no way we'd have stood for it 20 years ago.

None of the rules make any sense. I'm not allowed to see my parents (though I've been going daily as dad's been in hospital but on pain of an ear bashing form my wife haven't taken the kids), but it's perfectly fine for them to have a gang of blokes in for 2 weeks fitting a new kitchen, and other tradesmen going things like fireplaces and chimneys. Now, who presents greater risk of infecting them, me sat in my home office all day every day, or a load of tradesmen working all over the place? It's the fact we're all treated like idiots for our own "protection", and it's the idiots that unquestioningly swallow this nonsense that the government panders to that really grinds my gears.
Don't worry. I'm not really doing too much following around here. None of us are really. I dislike the "for your own safety" narrative being pushed around here too - we've all made our own risk judgement and have decided that we will be fine in the building without face coverings (we're like 3 metres away from other tables at all times anyway, the design of this building has always involved huge amounts of excess space). I think they know it's quite unenforceable as well - security stood outside our room for five minutes today and when they left and returned half an hour later it was like they'd never been here in the first place. My uni isn't as bad as Manchester thankfully though.

I'm not intending on leaving during the travel window unless all of my friends go back too - as then there's no point in staying on my own here - but I doubt that's going to happen - most have expressed an extreme determination to stay here for a while longer yet - as do I.
 

ABB125

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Someone I know moved back home at the start of the lockdown. Since then, he's been back overnight twice, and is planning to come back again next week.
Lockdown? What lockdown? :D
 

Scotrail12

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I think that this semester is one to file away and move on from, it’s becoming nigh on impossible to get work done now and that’s problematic as it’s the busiest time of the semester. My passion for my subjects is also gone.

Troubling thing is that next semester also appears to be online. Will we ever get priority to be back in?
 

duncanp

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Interesting to see that Nigel Farage's Reform UK party has started a campaign to refund 30% of the tuition fees paid this year by students in England, and also for universities to offer better mental health support for students.

I realise Nigel Farage is a controversial figure, and some people see him as a rabble rouser who will latch on to any passing bandwagon.

However, if one of the mainstream parties would stick up for students, who have been shamefully treated by universities, then it wouldn't be necessary for Mr Farage to do it.


Nigel Farage's new political party has launched its first campaign: a pledge to refund fees for students who have been kept under 'house arrest' by coronavirus, with lectures cancelled or heavily disrupted.
Reform UK's new ‘Stop The Student Rip-off’ campaign is calling on the Government for a 30 per cent reduction in student fees for this year and for universities to offer more robust mental health services in response to Covid-19.
UK universities have dramatically reduced contact hours for students with most lectures, seminars and tutorials now taking place online.
Although students were promised ‘blended learning’ when universities returned in September and October, thousands have been confined to their accommodation.
Some students have tried to engage with the higher education services only to be told that relevant staff have been placed on furlough, the party said.

Despite the upheaval, full time courses at English universities are still priced at £9,250 compared to £6,000 for an Open University course conducted entirely online.
Richard Tice, Reform UK's chairman who came up with the policy, said: “It is a travesty that university authorities continue to ask students to pay £9,000 a year for a service they are not providing. Students did not sign up for a virtual education.
"They are paying for full-time courses to be conducted face-to-face using physical spaces. Thousands of them have also signed expensive, long-term rental agreements fully expecting to be required to attend lectures, seminars and tutorials in person."
Mr Farage, the party's leader, drew attention to images of students being barricaded into halls of residence to stop them leaving. Some put up signs in their windows asking for food. The video below shows Manchester University students pulling down fences erected to stop social mixing.

He said: "University students, especially first year ones in Halls of Residence, have been completely ripped off and put under virtual house arrest. I feel very sorry for them and the least they can get is a 30 per cent discount - they deserve it."
Mr Farage and Mr Tice have applied to the Electoral Commission to register Reform UK as the new name for the Brexit Party. A decision is expected next month.
 

Scotrail12

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Interesting to see that Nigel Farage's Reform UK party has started a campaign to refund 30% of the tuition fees paid this year by students in England, and also for universities to offer better mental health support for students.

I realise Nigel Farage is a controversial figure, and some people see him as a rabble rouser who will latch on to any passing bandwagon.

However, if one of the mainstream parties would stick up for students, who have been shamefully treated by universities, then it wouldn't be necessary for Mr Farage to do it.

I do agree with what you said and whilst Farage is far from perfect with his politics, someone with a political influence needs to speak up about this issue. I definitely support this campaign.
 

ABB125

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In principle it's a good idea, but have they decided what form the refund will take? Will it be a one-off cash payment to students, or a reduction in the student's loan payment, or something else? Both these approaches have advantages and disadvantages.
 

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