As we head into a second wave, students and academic staff must put pressure on the government and university management to keep people safe, argues Lucy Nichols
In the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of students from all over Britain will migrate cross country to settle in student halls, and shared houses.
Despite fears from the UCU and students that they aren’t safe enough for students and staff to return, campuses across the country will be soon welcoming back tens of thousands of Undergrads.
Freshers – many of whom were victim to the Tories’ virulent classism over the A-level algorithm – will now be moving away from their families into crowded student halls, isolated from anyone outside their immediate bubble.
Returning students will be moving back to campuses that were completely different to when they left. Many of whom have had to pay a year’s worth of tuition fees and rent for six months’ worth of tuition and housing.
International students from Europe will largely have to quarantine on arrival. Those further afield, or who aren’t willing to come back to the UK, will have to learn remotely (despite time differences). All will still be expected to pay over £20,000 in tuition fees.
Throughout the crisis, students – especially at Universities – have felt completely left behind. In addition to the universal and unavoidable frustration of the pandemic, with years abroad, internships and graduations all lost; students have largely been ignored by the government and university management.
Guidance has been vague, and no-one at the Department of Education has made any effort to explain why tuition fees remain unwavering, despite students simply not having access to the same standard of education as in previous years.
A £9,250 yearly fee for face-to-face lectures is outrageous in the first place. A £9,250 fee for online lectures and cut resources is inexcusable.
Students, are of course, not the only demographic who have suffered as a result of Tory apathy. The R rate is steadily increasing, which comes as a surprise to no-one. The government has been totally incompetent in its handling of the pandemic, every step of the way.
Despite this, and despite the fact that the month of August was dedicated to encouraging the public to eat out wherever possible – it is now students that seem to be footing the blame for any new cases of Covid, with the BBC promoting this idea at every opportunity.
The sole blame for the calamitous handling of this crisis lies in the hands of the Conservative government. Johnson and his cabinet have done nothing to alleviate the suffering of working class people in the UK, choosing instead to act in their own selfish interests – whatever the outcome for the rest of the country.
As we head into a second wave, it is imperative that students and academic staff put as much pressure on the government and University management to keep people safe while they work. This should include demanding online learning unconditionally, for fees to be scraped and no rental payments for accommodation that students don’t stay in.
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