Vice-Chancellor: Forgotten students have been left in limbo
The Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University, Professor Nick Braisby, has criticised the UK Government for leaving thousands of students in limbo following the latest roadmap announcement, and is calling for all students to be allowed to return in line with the relaxation of restrictions on 12 April.
On Monday, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for stage two of his Government’s roadmap to begin from 12 April which will see various sectors reopen, including all shops, hairdressers, gyms, spas, and theme parks. Self-catering accommodation will also be allowed to reopen, however, there was no mention of when university students could resume their studies in COVID-safe university facilities.
Professor Nick Braisby said: “I am incredibly proud of the patience and perseverance of our University’s students, whose studies and lives have now been disrupted for more than a year.
“Since the start of the pandemic, University students have suffered considerable disruption, with a change to online learning, reduced employment opportunities, and restrictions on movement. We have seen increased levels of financial hardship and rising concern around mental health. At a critical time in the academic year, they are now being forgotten and left in limbo with no return date in sight.
“This vital issue of students returning to university has been kicked into the long grass seemingly without any consideration of the ongoing negative impact this is having on their studies and mental health. I strongly urge the UK Government to allow all students to return from 12 April and make this announcement as soon as possible.”
“This vital issue of students returning to university has been kicked into the long grass seemingly without any consideration of the ongoing negative impact this is having on their studies and mental health. I strongly urge the UK Government to allow all students to return from 12 April and make this announcement as soon as possible.”Professor Nick Braisby Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University
Professor Braisby has today written to local MPs Steve Baker (High Wycombe), Rob Butler (Aylesbury) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Uxbridge), who he has asked to urgently reconsider the Government’s position.
Professor Braisby’s intervention follows a letter sent this week by Universities UK (UUK) to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, requesting clear and urgent clarification on the UK Government’s plans for student returns and what further steps will be taken to support students’ education and wellbeing.
Significantly, the letter signed by UUK’s President, Professor Julia Buckingham, and Chief Executive, Alistair Jarvis, also called on the Government to explain what measures it will take to support student hardship arising from the pandemic, support final-year students’ employability, and support student mental health.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than one in four students (29%) are struggling with loneliness, compared to 7% of the adult population in Great Britain. Student life satisfaction (5.2) also remains significantly lower than the average adult population (6.8).
Buckinghamshire New University continues to do everything it can to support its students and has so far: offered halls of residence rent rebates to students who have been unable to return to campus; launched several financial support packages, including an emergency allowance, everyday living allowance, and learning technology grant; and provided access to online 24/7 mental health support in addition to face-to-face wellbeing services on its campuses. The University has also extended its ‘no detriment’ policy until the end of the 2020/21 academic year and made free twice-weekly COVID-19 testing available.
Professor Braisby also was interviewed on Monday on Wycombe Sound branding the none return of students 'illogical'. You can listen here - select Monday 12 April and listen from 1:15:58.