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Students: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 120040, tabled on 24 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of university students on their needs in the context of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on university education.

Answered on

2 December 2020

On 18 August, a higher education (HE) taskforce made up of various sector representatives was launched to initially advise on HE admissions. The scope of the taskforce has since been extended to include discussions on broader COVID-19 related challenges faced by the HE sector and students. We are aware of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on students’ mental health, wellbeing, and future life chances, and must do all we can to mitigate its effects. Several taskforce subgroups have looked at these areas in more detail.

The student mental health subgroup, for instance, had representatives from the Student Minds charity and the Office for Students (OfS) to discuss responses from students. The group also heard from a current second year student who attended to share their personal experience and thoughts directly.

I also regularly meet with the National Union of Students and have engaged in several Facebook live sessions organised by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service where I have had the opportunity to discuss with students the issues affecting them the most, as well as engaging with students through the student panel of the OfS, virtual visits and The Student Room.

We will continue to work with the sector and student representative bodies and engage students, as our top priority for January will be the welfare of students, staff, and the communities around higher education providers.