All University of Northampton students able to return to campus from May 17 at earliest, government confirms
Uni 'exploring the implications' of announcement while UUK 'hugely disappointed' at-home students have to wait another month
All students will be able to return to the University of Northampton campus from May 17 at the earliest, the government has announced.
Campuses across the country can welcome back non-hands-on students at 'step 3' of the government's roadmap.
A University of Northampton spokesperson said they are 'exploring the implications' and will be outlining plans for a potential return next month to staff and students 'very shortly'.
Around half of students, those studying creative and practical courses, started returning from March 8, subject to decisions by their institutions, with the rest having to study online since Christmas.
Upon return, all students and staff are encouraged to take three supervised tests, three to five days apart at an asymptomatic testing site on campus, which Northampton's university has.
A government spokesperson said: "The timing aligns with 'step three' of the Government’s roadmap, where restrictions on social contact and indoor mixing will be further eased, and aims to limit potential public health risks associated with student populations moving across the country."
During the summer, students will be able to pick up home testing kits from their universities as well as at other collection points like the rest of the population.
Universities UK president Professor Julia Buckingham said having to wait another month is 'hugely disappointing' for students having to rely on virtual courses, especially ahead of end-of-year exams.
"We know that many are desperate to return to use facilities and take part in Covid-safe in-person teaching, learning and other activities – which the government has previously recognised as essential to their mental health and wellbeing," she said.
"Universities have proven that the safety measures put in place – including regular asymptomatic testing, additional cleaning, support for self-isolating students and adherence to guidance on ventilation and face coverings – are enabling effective management of the virus on campuses, with minimal infection rates in face-to-face teaching settings and limited onward transmission to local communities.
"With schools, colleges and many businesses open, we now need the government to urgently explain how it reached this decision so that universities can communicate with their students and continue preparing to maximise opportunities for in-person activities from May 17."