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On 4 January 2021 the Government announced a third national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the lockdown students were expected to return to FE colleges on 18 January and HE students were planning for a staggered returning to campuses from 25 January 2021.

The lockdown rules prevented the majority of students from returning to campuses – only HE students taking specific courses relating to key health areas were allowed to return for teaching and FE students who were vulnerable students, the children of critical workers or taking vocational courses that were about to be completed where assessments could not be done remotely. The remainder of courses reverted to online delivery.

On 28 January 2021 Gavin Williamson the Education Secretary announced that colleges and universities would return from 8 March at the earliest.

On 22 February 2021 the Prime Minister announced a road map for ending lockdown restrictions in England. The roadmap set out that from 8 March all schools and colleges will be able to fully open and that students on higher education courses requiring practical teaching, specialist facilities will also be able to return to campus.

Further updated guidance was issued for HE and FE provers in March 2021– the guidance widened the groups of HE students which could return to campus and stated that the return of other students would be considered over the Easter break.

This briefing paper discusses announcements affecting the HE an FE sectors in England from January 2021 and was correct at the time of writing.

Details of earlier Covid-related restrictions for the sector and their impact are given in the following briefing papers.:

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