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Senedd committee seeks assurances from Welsh universities on protecting students from the impact of Coronavirus

30/09/2020

The Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee has written to the  vice-chancellors at Wales’ universities seeking assurances about their measures for protecting students from the impact of Coronavirus.

The letter follows recent developments in England and Scotland where campus lockdowns were imposed by some universities and students confined to their halls of residences after localised Covid-19 hotspots emerged.

Fears have also been raised about whether students would be allowed home for Christmas.

Aberystwyth University this week suspended in-person teaching after a number of students tested positive for Coronavirus.

The letter is available here

Chair of the Committee, Lynne Neagle said:

“It has been a matter of days since many of us waved our children off to what they hoped would be one of the most exciting times of their lives.

“But we have already seen some very distressing stories emerging from around the UK about the impact this pandemic is having on students and staff as they begin the new term.

“This is a deeply concerning time. As a committee, we feel it only right to thoroughly examine the steps being taken by institutions here in Wales to protect our students and higher education staff, and to make sure that everything that can be done to minimise the pandemic’s impact is put in place quickly.”

The Committee has asked institutions to set out:

  • the COVID-19 measures they have taken in relation to their own accommodation, and how they have worked with Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSAs) and private landlords (with reference to arrangements for both term and vacation periods);

  • how they intend to support – or have been supporting – all students (on and off-campus) who have needed to self-isolate, including how they would support large numbers self-isolating at the same time in a dignified manner (i.e. the provision of food and drink that meets dietary requirements, medicine, mental health support and other essentials);

  • the provision they have in place for identifying and addressing student hardship;

  • their approach to working with students on COVID-19 measures and actions, including self-isolation;

  • how they are working and integrating with the public health and civil contingencies machinery within their local authorities and local resilience fora (to include confirmation of whether they have on-campus testing facilities for students);

  • how they have engaged – and are engaging – with the local population, in particular where they have campuses in rural local authorities; and,

  • any recommendations they believe the Committee could helpfully make to the Welsh Government to improve support for universities, staff and students.

The letter is part of the Committee’s ongoing scrutiny of the steps being taken to manage the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people, including students in further and higher education.


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