Universities remain empty as in-person teaching date is released

University students say they feel “frustrated” and “forgotten” by the government  which has announced that in-person teaching will resume on May 17, 2021 – after term time has finished for most.

The majority of students have been working remotely since April 2020 and the return to in-person teaching will take place as England enters stage three of the lockdown roadmap.

However, the announcement was met with frustration and anger from students across the UK.

@Joshmitte wrote on Twitter: “The government will allow in-person teaching to resume on May 17 during exam season (i.e. when there’s no teaching), also a week after my last two weeks of any teaching in term 3 and so in this year.”

@Emily_anne_17 added: “So universities can go back to in-person teaching from May 17… I finish teaching on May 7, as do most students. A full year, £9250, all online, actual jokes.”

“there isn’t the same amount of help online if students are struggling.”

Chris Bell, STUDENT

Students at Nottingham Trent University mirrored the opinions of many, stating they felt “let down” by the Government.

Chris Bell, 20, a second-year studying business, said: “ I have no motivation to study from home; watching lectures online just isn’t the same and there isn’t the same amount of help online if students are struggling.”

He continued “I just feel let down by the government.”

Libby Manning, 20, a product design student, added: “It’s frustrating as I’ve been at home since December but have been paying rent for my privately owned university accommodation.

“I feel as though the government is completely forgetting about these extra costs which is so upsetting.”

VIDEO: Piers Morgan challenges universities minister Michelle Donelan on Good Morning Britain about why students were not getting furlough help

Universities are disappointed with the decision. Nottingham Trent’s vice-chancellor, Professor Edward Peck, emailed students stating he was “disappointed that [in-person teaching] cannot happen sooner” and said many freedoms which the government was allowing “offer more risks than in-person teaching”.

He reassured students that “campuses remain open for students who were permitted to return back” and reminded them that “lateral flow testing should be taken”.

Questions about why students have not been offered the same treatment as employees who have been furloughed or those who have been refunded if services they paid for were not being delivered were raised by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain, who challenged the universities minister, Michelle Donelan,  on why students were not getting furlough help.

Michelle Donelan said the government expected the “quantity, quality and accessibility to be maintained” and announced that the government had in fact helped students by adding an extra £50 million (totalling £70m) for students experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic.

Ms Donelan sympathised with students, stating “we get how difficult it is” and made it clear that if students were unhappy with the quality of teaching, they should contact their universities and the OIA as they could be entitled to a refund.