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Should students have returned to university?

Written by Coronavirus, National, News, On Campus

Local news outlet The Chronicle conducted a survey asking its readers about the recent return of university students to Newcastle. The results show an overwhelming majority believe they should have stayed at home. 

73% of those who completed the survey believed that universities should have shut in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. An even higher percentage, 82%, thought that students should have stayed at home when they reopened.

Education Officer, Sian Dickie told The Courier: “It is unsurprising to me.” She continued: “We have to remember that The Chronicle readership is a different demographic to the students of Newcastle University, and it is those people who I am here to represent.”

This survey was conducted following the national move to the ‘tier’ system by the government. Newcastle is currently in Tier 2, meaning there are relatively high rates in the area.

Dickie added: “No one could have predicted the fluctuation of the R rate in the North East and lots of the student population moved up to Newcastle before the tier system was raised.”

“It would be unfair, and unsafe, if the student population would now be made to travel back home after they have just settled in.”

The survey also asked whether universities should have done more to stop the spread of infection, and 73%, approximately 12 000 people, said that this was the case. 

The university institutions in the North East have all put measures into place to protect students and staff alike, including face masks, social distancing and a rigorous cleaning regime. And yet, when the readers were asked if the government was wrong to allow universities to open, 75% said ‘yes’. 

This report has been followed by a deal between the university and University and Colleges Union (UCU), which states that Newcastle University staff will not be forced back into working on campus unless it is essential to the course.

Featured image: Newcastle University

Last modified: 28th October 2020

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