Rules for univeristy students travelling home for Christmas are set out by Government

The Government has today (November 11) set out the rules that will allow university students to go home for the Christmas break, including staggared ‘travel windows’ and guidance on safe journeys.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 12:01 am

Students in England will be able to travel home to spend Christmas with their families once the national restrictions end on 2 December, as long as they follow steps set out in new guidance.

Before they are allowed to begin their journey home they must first follow the current national restrictions in place until 2 December, completing this four-week period in their term-time accommodation. 

Then, from 3 December to 9 December, which will be known as the ‘student travel window’, students will be allowed to travel home on staggered departure dates set by universities, who will work with other institutions in the region to manage pressure on transport infrastructure.

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Sheffield University Firth Court

The student travel window will mean students can travel immediately after completing the four-week period of national restrictions, reducing the risk of transmission to family and friends at home.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “We know this Christmas will feel different, and after this incredibly difficult year we are absolutely committed to getting students back to their loved ones in time for the Christmas break.

“But I know residents in Sheffield might wonder how students leaving campus, or those coming back to the area, might affect them. I want to reassure everyone that we have worked really hard to find a way to do this for this group, while limiting the risk of transmission.

“With the national lockdown measures, staggered leave times, safer travel guidance and any additional assurances from testing, we are confident transmission can be controlled, and we can enable these students to have the Christmas break they deserve.”

Sheffield Hallam University.

Tests will be offered to as many students as possible before they travel home for Christmas, with universities in areas of high prevalence prioritised.

If a student tests positive before their departure they will need to remain in self-isolation for the required period of ten days.

The Government has also given travel guidance, which  includes students wearing face coverings unless exempt, avoiding busy routes and times, and limiting car sharing with only their household or bubble where possible.  

Universities have been told that they should move learning online by 9 December so students can continue their education while also having the option to return home to study from there.

As announced by the Prime Minister this week, the Government will also work with universities to establish mass testing capacity.

English students at universities in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, should follow the guidance relevant to where they are living before returning home.

Students returning to their home in England who have not completed the 4 weeks of national restrictions should undertake at least 14 days of restricted contact either before or after return home to minimise their risk of transmission.

Universities have also been asked to provide additional help and practical support to students, particularly for students who remain on campus over Christmas, which can include care leavers, international students and students estranged from their families. Universities should ensure they are properly cared for and can access affordable food, medical and cleaning supplies if needed.