To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the cost to universities of testing all students returning in the new year 2021; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing financial support to universities to deliver those tests.
14 December 2020
Following the end of term break, our top priority for January 2021 is the welfare of students, staff and the wider communities around higher education (HE) providers. As stated in the January 2021 student return guidance, published on 2 December 2020, all HE providers should offer asymptomatic mass testing to all students on their return. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.
The Department for Education is actively working with the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that all HE providers can deliver government supported asymptomatic test sites utilising lateral flow devices, which will help to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the staggered return.
Personal protective equipment and kits will be provided to HE providers at no cost, along with access to digital solutions, training and clinical guidance to support testing. A cost recovery model is also in place for providers to recover costs for workforce, site set up and site furnishings.