University students in England will be able to travel home for Christmas from early December under new government guidance.
The Department for Education has said universities in England should revert to online teaching to allow students to travel home between 3 and 9 December for the festive period.
Universities will be expected to stagger the dates in which students leave during this “travel window” and liaise with other nearby institutions to ensure transport is not overwhelmed.
This guidance hopes to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as students will be travelling home after the lockdown.
The government has also promised to help universities establish mass testing capacity as well as testing as many students as possible before they return home.
Sky News spoke to university students across the country about this new guidance.
‘These travel corridors are superficial and merely a PR stunt’
Muraad Chaudhry is a third-year international relations student at SOAS, University of London.
He welcomes the idea – but only in principle.
“The announcement of university travel corridors for many will provide a sense of certainty and opportunity to see their families over the Christmas period,” he told Sky News.
“However, in reality, these travel corridors are superficial and are merely a PR stunt which will make very little to no difference to the spread of the virus in university settings.
“This is due to students mixing in halls of residence regardless of online or in-person teaching methods used.
“Furthermore, the effectiveness of this scheme is dependent on a testing programme.
Muraad added: “However, government ministers have stated that coronavirus tests will be offered to as many students as possible, not all.
‘It’s just not acceptable to politicise when we can go home’
James Taylor, a student at the University of Gloucestershire, was not happy about being given a set period to return home.
“It’s just not acceptable to politicise when we can go home, the government aren’t the ones paying £9,250 a year,” he said.
“I live in a shared house and people think the same thing, we’re paying for something that we can’t even control, what are we paying for?”
He also questioned the logic behind the plan, saying that “everyone leaving at once is going to be mayhem”.
He added that due to “the evacuation plans” he will struggle to get home within the government’s time frame because it has “ruined my travel plans as I live overseas in Jersey“.
‘It could have been a lot worse’
Jasmine Jones, a third-year natural sciences student, had planned to stay at university beyond the travel window to complete work.
She told Sky News: “It’s kind of annoying, but I don’t really mind it too much. I’m going to do whatever I can to get home