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UCU response to 17 May university return

13 April 2021

Responding to the UK Government's announcement that English universities will resume in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May, University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The UK government has consistently disregarded the needs of university staff and students throughout this pandemic, treating them as an afterthought at best. So unfortunately, it is no surprise that it has only confirmed university learning will remain online the day after many students have already started their summer term.

'Ministers now need to be honest with staff and students and confirm most courses will stay online until September, which is what UCU has been calling for. Restarting in-person activities in mid-May makes absolutely no sense, as many students' exams will already have finished.

'This government's record on education during the pandemic is one of abject failure. £15m in additional hardship funding for students after the government has used their fees to prop up a rotten funding model is a disgrace. The government's insistence that campuses could be Covid secure pushed students back onto campus before it was safe, and has caused misery as both staff and students have faced self-isolation and lockdowns. Ministers must now acknowledge how the marketised higher education system exacerbated the Covid crisis, and look at alternative funding models so we never face this disaster again. But that would take real leadership.'

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