Thousands of UEA students told to stay in Norwich for lockdown
- Credit: EDP Library
Students are being urged to stay in Norwich rather than return home risking the lives of loved ones as the second lockdown begins.
All 16,872 students at the University of East Anglia have received a letter from universities minister Michelle Donelan urging them to continue their studies rather than travelling back to their families.
She said: “I know and appreciate that a number of you may want to be back with your family during this difficult time, but I urge you to stay where you are in order to save lives.”
Ms Donelan has also called on institutions not to switch fully to online lessons during the lockdown as she warned it could jeopardise students’ learning and “risk their mental health”.
MORE: Big drop in UEA Covid casesLauren Aarons, originally from Croydon, studying broadcast and multimedia journalism at the UEA, said being advised not to go home was making students “feel guilty”.
She said: “It puts us in a position of feeling more trapped and this subsequently could mess with the mental health of myself and my peers.”
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Fellow student Alice Pritchard, who has just come back from seeing family in Nottingham, which was already in Tier 3 lockdown, said the letter “felt a bit insensitive”.
Among students who have chosen to return home is Ewan, a biomedical sciences student at Middlesex University who is back in Laxfield, near the Norfolk-Suffolk border.
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“The government told us to go to university and now they are leaving us in the dark,” he said. “I worry for my mental health, my room feels like a prison, why wouldn’t I return to my home with my family?”
He added: “The online learning is a shambles. If I knew it would all be online I would have saved my money and done an Open University degree.”
In a separate letter to university vice-chancellors, the minister said she wants all students to continue having “some form of face-to-face learning” where possible.
Department for Education (DfE) guidance states face-to-face teaching should continue and “commuter students” - those who live at their family home and travel to the university campus for lessons - be allowed to attend the university for educational purposes during the lockdown.
MORE: Cut university students some slack – they’ve been let down on all sidesIt also advises that face coverings should be worn in all university learning environments, providing that they do “not impact teaching and learning” and campus libraries and study spaces should remain open.
A UEA spokesperson said: “Government has clearly instructed universities to stay open and told students to stay on campus.
“UEA is focused on educating and supporting our students and ensuring they have the services in place that they need.”
In a communication to students, UEA vice chancellor David Richardson said the university was considering how the lockdown “affects the full range of our activities so that we can give clear guidance on how we continue to deliver our university teaching and research mission over the coming weeks”.