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UCU response to prime minister's new Covid measures

12 October 2020 | last updated: 16 October 2020

UCU said the prime minister was wrong to declare that universities will stay open under new local restrictions. The union said institutions across the UK need to move to online learning as the default position to prevent more regions entering into new lockdowns.

UCU was responding to Boris Johnson's statement to the House of Commons, which set out a new three tier restriction system. The Guardian reported today that Covid-19 infection rates at universities in England and Wales are up to seven times higher than those in the local population, posing a significant public health risk.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Some local areas are now being forced into harsh lockdowns, which will have severe financial consequences. We have been warning the government for months that a mass return to campus would likely lead to big Covid outbreaks, but the prime minister is still insisting that universities continue with in-person teaching. To stop more areas being forced into harsher restrictions, we need a nationally coordinated response from government that moves working online at universities to help lower the rate of transmission and stem this crisis, and students must be allowed to return home if they wish once it is safe to do so.'

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