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New guidance on reopening higher education campuses

The Department for Education published updated guidance on 10 September 2020, Higher education: reopening buildings and campuses. This paper ill be updated in due course to reflect the new guidance.

On 20 March 2020 colleges and universities were closed in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The closure of institutions raised a significant number of issues for providers and students and caused considerable concern about the financial future and stability of the post-18 education sector.

This briefing follows on from two earlier briefing papers : Coronavirus: implications for the further and higher education sectors in England, 17 April 2020 which discussed concerns that were raised in the early weeks of lockdown and Coronavirus: Update on Coronavirus: implications for the further and higher education sectors in England, 21 May 2020 which gave updates on developments during lockdown including the Government’s 4 May 2020 announcement of a support package for universities and students.

This paper addresses concerns about the impact of easing lockdown restrictions, such as re-opening campuses and colleges and discusses future delivery of courses and implications of policy changes such as the introduction of temporary student numbers controls, the U-turn on student number controls and the Higher Education Restructuring Regime. It also highlights issues such as the impact on graduate employability and catch up funding for FE colleges.

The latest information from universities is that virtually all have confirmed they will start courses again in autumn 2020 and that 90% will be a mixture of online learning and some face-to-face teaching.

According to UCAS the number of applicants for full-time undergraduate courses is up, both from home and overseas students. The number who have a confirmed place following A-Level results is also up in 2020. There is an increase in those who are delaying their place to 2021 or later and it remains to be seen how many of these students actually take up their place, particularly overseas students.

Surveys of overseas students show only a small minority have (so far) decided not to study overseas. There was a strong support for face-to face leaning among overseas students with some prepared to defer entry to later in the year or to 2021/22 to ensure this.

This paper follows a similar format to the earlier paper and was correct at the time of writing. For later information readers should consult Government and stakeholder websites set out below:


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