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Message for staff and students: Update on COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

Dear Colleagues and Students

Today the Prime Minister has announced details of the plan to lift the national lockdown. The changes will be introduced in phases with strict conditions that must be met before each further phase of easing can begin.

The Prime Minister announced that, from 8 March, students on university courses requiring practical teaching, specialist facilities, or on-site assessments will be able to return, but all others will need to continue learning online. Government will review the options for when remaining students can return, and make a further announcement after Easter.

We await full details from the Department for Education in the coming days and I will update you with details of which students will be able to return from 8 March, and of how the wider roadmap will affect the University as soon as I can.

This announcement means that nothing will change immediately for universities. Students who have not so far returned to their term-time addresses should continue to remain where they are and should not travel to university. Travelling between areas is still not permitted, unless in exceptional circumstances.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that progressing to subsequent phases of lockdown easing, including allowing all university students to return, is dependent on meeting strict conditions, including:

  • the continued success of the coronavirus vaccination programme
  • further evidence that vaccines are reducing the number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations
  • infection rates which do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  • new variants of the virus not changing the risks associated with lifting restrictions

It is clear therefore that if we wish to reach the second phase of lockdown easing, when universities may be able to welcome more students back, we must all continue to abide by the current restrictions, continue to observe the basic hygiene measures and continue to engage with testing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

I will update you further in my regular message on Wednesday. In the meantime you can find all our COVID-19 information and advice on our website.

This announcement will no doubt cause a mix of hope that we may be reaching the end of this terrible pandemic and concern as to the measures we need to put into place as a country to ensure we can get there safely. Please remember to look out for those around you and remember at all times that there is wellbeing support available should you need it. We will continue to do our very best to ensure that we move through these next, and hopefully final, phases as a supportive community.

Best wishes



Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary