More students are to return to Nottingham after the government announced some teaching will return to being on campus.
In the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister on Monday, Boris Johnson said that students who require “practical teaching, specialist facilities or on-site assessment” will return from March 8.
Until now only students on future key worker courses have been invited to return to campus.
Those courses included medicine and dentistry, Veterinary Science and Social Work – all other courses were told to continue with remote teaching.
As part of the wider return of students, universities are expected to provide twice-weekly coronavirus testing so that cases can be isolated.
The Prime Minister said: “The vaccines reduce the danger of covid.
“They save lives and they keep people out of hospital, but no vaccine against any disease has ever been 100 per cent effective.
“So whenever we ease lockdown, whether it’s today or six, or nine months, we’ve got to be realistic and accept that there will be more infections, more hospitalisations and therefore more deaths – just as there are every year with flu.”
The government will review the four criteria on relaxing lockdown – the extent of the vaccine roll out, the level of hospitalisations and deaths, whether there is a surge in infections that could overwhelm the NHS and the status of new variants – by the end of the Easter holidays to see whether more students can return.
They state that universities and students will be given at least a one week notice period prior to being asked to return.
The decision to have students return early next month has split the opinions of students.
‘Something to look forward to’
Second year politics and international relations student Kieran Burt, 20, said: “I went back to university before Christmas, and have stayed since.
“I am glad that it gives me something to look forward to, and I hope they’re able to stick to it.
“It is cautious which is something I like to see, the government have not caved to backbench pressure.”
‘The light at the end of the tunnel’
Faith Pring, a 22-year-old student studying MA news at Nottingham Trent University, said: “I think overall it’s had quite a positive effect on my mental health.
“I think knowing that this lockdown is coming to an end is making things a lot easier to cope with now we’re got the light at the end of the tunnel, but I think people still need to be careful and remember that even in June when restrictions are relaxed we can’t afford to go all out and risk the progress we’ve made.
“I’d love for more information to be made available about universities – are we going to be able to go back on campus?
“With schools being invited back in March, I’d very much like to know if the same applies to university students.
“I think it’s important for student mental health for us to get back into student accommodation and into the classrooms.
“But overall, I’d say this roadmap announcement has made things easier to cope with and makes a positive change to the negative news we’re used to.”
‘No graduation? My mum would be gutted.’
Final year student hope that gradually lifting the restrictions by June means that they will have a graduation ceremony.
Third year journalism student Michael Callander, 20, said: “The graduation ceremony is a big thing for our families as much as us, I know my mum would be gutted if we weren’t able to have an in-person graduation at the end.
Michael has been at home since Christmas time, and says he ‘misses being in Notts’.
He added: “I’m really positive about it as I’ve got dates to count down to and look forward to now.
“We all hope this is the last time we’ll have to be in lockdown, I just hope everyone keeps following the rules so we never have to do this again.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to some face-to-face sessions before the end of the course.”
What the SU says:
SU President Conor Naughton has spoken on behalf of the NTSU: “We have continued to support our students throughout this academic year from providing study space in our own buildings, society provision to build communities and a sense of belonging alongside on-going work both locally and nationally fighting for fair treatment of students on housing, education and welfare and the Student Code of Behaviour as part of our students deserve better campaign.
“We look forward to welcoming many of our students back to campus in March and will continue to provide both in-person and online provision for students within the regulations including our information and advice service which is here for any student facing difficulties.”
By Matt Lee & Olimpia Zagnat
Lead Image: Olimpia Zagnat