The National Union of Students (NUS) has warned that many universities’ coronavirus restrictions on those living in campus accommodation are having a serious impact on students’ mental health.
Over the last month, thousands of university students have been forced into self-isolation as coronavirus cases rise in the UK. As of October 10, 10,000 students have been infected with COVID, with four universities – Nottingham, Manchester, Northumbria, and Newcastle – accounting for half the cases.
Many students are protesting against their conditions by posting signs on their windows, such as, “Mental health comes first. Let us out” and “send nudes, weed, and food”.
In an email statement to Dazed, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said the government was “supporting universities to provide a blend of online and in-person learning in a COVID-secure way this term”. They added: “The government expects universities to continue to deliver a high-quality academic experience, and we know many institutions have worked to ensure courses are fit for purpose.”
Still, the government shirked responsibility by asserting that “universities are autonomous” and that “there is an established process in place for students with concerns about their education”. They didn’t elaborate further on what these processes actually are.
Last month, health secretary Matt Hancock suggested that students might be banned from returning home for Christmas, in order to limit the spread of coronavirus. After mass outrage, however, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, set out a plan to allow students to be with their families over the festive period. Until then, watch this space.