Important new Information on Government Policy affecting Universities
Yesterday all University Heads in England received a direction by letter from The Minister of State for Universities in relation to the arrangements for the start of term in January. This morning (New Year’s Eve) I attended a meeting with the Minister to clarify certain aspects of this direction. I can now provide a summary of the key issues for all staff and students :
The Minister confirmed that there is no evidence that face to face on campus teaching poses a significant risk of CV 19 infections, however the Government wishes to minimise the mass movement of students (including daily commuting) in early January during this current critical stage in the pandemic. This is to reduce the potential for overwhelming the NHS. The Minister also confirmed that international students, upon arrival in the UK, must comply with all quarantine requirements and thereafter should be treated as domestic students for the purpose of this direction.
I am therefore directed by the DfE to ensure that :
Students only attend campus between 4 and 25 January 2021:
A) if it is absolutely essential for them to do so to enable them to use a private study space individually in cases where they do not have appropriate access to online study facilities at home or in their local accommodation;
B) where students need to attend campus individual study spaces for their own wellbeing and mental health.
Courses in the Health Faculty will be able to continue to attend their scheduled on campus teaching sessions as necessary for their clinical course as already planned from the week commencing 4 January 2021. Teacher Education will also continue as planned.
All other courses will return to usual arrangements from 25 January 2021.
Ideally staff and students should seek a COVID test (if available) prior to returning to campus. However staff and students are being encouraged by Government to make use of the asymptomatic Testing facility on their arrival at the University and access to the booking facility in Bolton One is available from the 5/1/21 via:
This booking system can be used for staff as well as students (for the purpose of the booking staff should regard themselves as students).
Each department head will be setting up local staffing rotas to ensure adequate but minimum on campus staffing levels between 4 January and 25 January. This will allow the campus to be open for students who have an absolute need to be on campus as set out in A and B above (and also for Health and Teacher Education courses to continue as originally planned).
To summarise, if students can study in their local accommodation or at home from 4 to 25 January they should do so. Only attend campus if essential. Study spaces in the library, the Student Services centre and IT centres etc will remain open on a skeleton staffing basis. Staff should check with their line manager if they are required on campus during the period 4 to 25 January. All staff who are required to attend are recognised by the Government as Key Workers and can travel and attend campus freely despite Tier 4 restrictions. Only essential and skeleton staffing as determined by their immediate line manager should attend campus - all staff not specifically required should follow national guidance and stay at home. Online teaching for all courses will continue throughout this period as scheduled.
Professor G Holmes DL
31 December 2020