UCL tells students to stay away until late February

Students have been told not to return to campus for another seven weeks

January 4, 2021
Source: UCL

Students at UCL have been told not to return to campus until at least the end of February.

The advice goes against government guidelines, which say students should start to return to university from 25 January.

In a statement published on 2 January, UCL said it was “moving all teaching and other face-to-face, in-person activities online from the start of term until the end of reading week”.

“There will be no in-person teaching on campus until Monday 22 February, at the earliest,” it added.

The message, co-authored by UCL’s outgoing president Michael Arthur and its incoming leader Michael Spence, who starts this month, explained that the Bloomsbury-based institution had “want[ed] to be honest and transparent with you about the decisions we are making”, referring to the fact that “in London, the number of cases is rising rapidly and our partner hospitals are at or beyond their capacity”.

“We are advising you not to travel, as we do not want to accelerate transmission of the virus and put everyone at greater risk,” it explained, adding that “by remaining where you are, you will be helping to protect each other and get the pandemic under control”.

The statement comes as all primary and secondary schools in London are closed on what would have been the first day of term, although primary schools in other parts of the country were opening.

The move was praised by Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, who described it as a “step in the right direction” and praised UCL’s “consistent and clear” position on handling the Covid crisis.

UCL, one of the UK’s largest universities with more than 42,000 students, said it would “continue to monitor the situation closely” but was “alert to the possibility that the pandemic might mean we need to extend online-only teaching until the end of Term 2”.

While acknowledging that this would be “disappointing news” for students, it added that the institution was “looking forward to seeing you in person as soon as we can get through this critical phase of the pandemic”.

“Your perseverance through just a few more weeks will stand you in good stead to continue your hard work in 2021, despite everything the pandemic throws at us,” the message said.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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