New lockdown rules issued for Leeds universities - as city's students react to return to online learning

New lockdown rules have been issued for students at Leeds universities, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of another full national lockdown in a bid to curb rising Covid infection rates.

By Megan Jones
Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 5:11 pm
Students have been told to stay home as well in the new national lockdown (file photo of people going out in Leeds city centre).
Students have been told to stay home as well in the new national lockdown (file photo of people going out in Leeds city centre).

University students are included within the reissued ‘stay at home’ message and have now been told to remain where they are wherever possible and begin their term online until at least mid-February.

It means that students - some who have spent much of their university experience so far in lockdown - must return to online coursework and lecturing rather than attend face-to-face teaching.

New household mixing bans also mean that students cannot meet with other students outside their household.

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There are some exceptions to teaching restrictions: specific courses such as medicine & dentistry, subjects allied to medicine/health, veterinary science, education (initial teacher training), social work, and courses which require PSRB assessments are able to return to face-to-face teaching as planned.

Those that are still having face to face teaching must be tested twice upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days. Students eligible for face-to-face teaching can meet in groups of more than their household as part of your formal education or training, where necessary.

No further measures or support for students has been included within the government's guidance.

Leeds Beckett University student Noah Atkinson, aged 21, said: "Students have been hung out to dry by this government during the pandemic. There is confusion as to whether we can travel back to university and the fact we are expected to produce the same quality of work, despite the standard of teaching being far lower”.

Another student studying at Leeds Beckett University, Amy Rogan, 26, said: "Learning from home is not the same standard of education university students need and are paying for. The least they could have done is reduce the tuition fees.

She added “It feels as though the government is ignoring our mental wellbeing”.

Many students are calling for the government to implement rent freezes or reductions in response to the lockdown.

Leeds Trinity University student Michael Hall, 21, said: “University students are expected to pay their accommodation fees in full, regardless of whether they are living there or not, if the government are expecting students to not return to their accommodation, then in turn students can expect the government to ensure they receive a partial refund”.

He described the government’s treatment of students as “an absolute joke”, stating “we’re paying £9,000 and have access to zero facilities whilst at the same time paying extortionate amounts on rent”.

An online petition to parliament to 'reimburse student rents for all accommodation not used during this academic year’ has already gathered over 12,000 signatures.

Leeds Trinity University issued the following statement on Twitter, which said: "Following last night’s government announcement about the national lockdown, we are working through the guidelines and awaiting further details from the Department for Education.

"We will email students and staff as soon as possible to explain what the new restrictions mean for you. Please keep an eye on your University inbox. In the meantime, it is important that students remain at their current address - whether at their home/ vacation address or in their term-time accommodation- to minimise the transmission of the virus.”

Leeds Beckett University issued the following statement on Twitter: “Students: you will receive an email tomorrow with an update on what the new national lockdown means for the university and for your studies.”