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Government ignored scientists' advice to move university teaching online

13 October 2020

The level of the Covid-19 crisis on campuses is a direct result of the Westminster government ignoring expert advice and deciding to put the health of university staff, students and local communities at risk

Ministers ignored a series of measures recommended by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which included moving all university and college teaching online unless in-person teaching was absolutely essential. UCU called for university teaching to be moved online in August.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Ministers were given clear recommendations on how to stem the spread of the virus before term started at the vast majority of universities. They could have taken swift and decisive action then and instructed universities to move their teaching online to mitigate against tens of thousands of students moving across the country.

'The chaos we see on campus and in halls of residence now is a direct result of ministers' decision to ignore that advice and choose to put the health of university staff, students and local communities at risk.

'To stop more areas being forced into harsher restrictions, we need a nationally coordinated response from government that belatedly moves working online at universities. Students must be allowed to return home if they wish, provided it is safe to do so.'

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