Now in England the Department for Education has updated its guidance for higher education providers to cover these multiple bits and bobs.
First up is Easter, which we noted on Friday means that students who study away from home who live in England have had the special exemption that allows them to “go home” recreated for the Easter break. There’s guidance that goes around it, however:
In addition, students will be able to return home for their Easter break, if they choose to do so. However, in order to minimise transmission, we strongly advise that students remain in their term time accommodation where possible. Where students do travel home for their Easter break, they should get tested before they travel. Students are also encouraged to test before they travel back to university, where community testing facilities are available. If they test positive, they will be legally required to self-isolate for ten days and should not travel. All HE providers should set an expectation that students should test as soon as possible upon their return to/arrival at university, and twice weekly thereafter.
You’ll see that includes reference to the requirement to self-isolate for ten days if they test positive on a lateral flow test, an issue that’s been confusing politicians and ministers all day. At the time of writing if you LF test positive at home you can get a PCR test and escape self-isolation if you then test negative. But for reasons never explained properly, PCR confirmation has been removed for university students.
Next DfE pre-writes an excuse for not changing this guidance where other guidance might apply to higher education:
As the government begins to ease restrictions, as outlined in the roadmap, higher education providers should take note of the wider reopening guidance and assume that this applies to their facilities, unless exemptions apply as stated in guidance. This may include the easing of restrictions with regards to organised sport, entertainment, or large events for example.
There’s a new paragraph on when everyone else might be “allowed” back that still references the “end of the Easter holidays”:
The government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of the return of remaining students. This review will take account of the latest data and will be a key part of the wider roadmap steps. Students and providers will be given a week’s notice ahead of any further return. In the meantime, international students are permitted to study remotely without a visa, and in most circumstances will be able to begin their course via distance learning.
A few people have asked us what DfE means by “end of the Easter holidays”. We don’t know, but given Oxford’s Trinity term starts on Sunday 25 April and Cambridge’s Easter term starts on Tuesday 27 April, let’s call it Monday 26 April and be done with it.
Next there’s further confirmation on that Graduate Route news for international students not currently in the country:
Government has confirmed in visa concessions guidance that international students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 by distance/blended learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course, will remain eligible to apply for the Graduate route provided they are in the UK by 21 June 2021, and meet the other requirements of the route.
And there’s also:
Government has also confirmed that international students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course, will remain eligible to apply for the Graduate route provided they are in the UK by 27 September 2021 and meet the other requirements of the route.
And for complete clarity:
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and who have already travelled to the UK during their studies with permission as a Student, will be able to make a Graduate route application, as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their course and meet the other requirements of the route. The Graduate route will open for applications on 1 July 2021.
And finally, a crossover on the venn diagram yields the following:
As for domestic students, international students are also allowed to return home once for their Easter break, which includes a journey involving overseas travel. However, in order to minimise transmission, and because travel restrictions could change whilst students are overseas, making it harder for students to get back into England, we would strongly advise students not to travel, and to remain in their term-time accommodation.