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UCU says universities must move online for new national lockdown

31 October 2020

UCU said that universities must move all non-essential in-person teaching online as part of any plans for a national lockdown.

The union was responding to a report in The Times that the government is considering exempting universities from its new national lockdown.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The health and safety of the country is being put at risk because of this government's insistence that universities must continue with in-person teaching. It would be incomprehensible if universities were allowed to continue with in-person teaching after the outbreaks we have seen on campuses across the country this term. Ministers must tell universities to move all non-essential in-person teaching online as part of any national lockdown.

'We may never know the full cost of the government's decision to ignore its own scientists' advice to move learning online in September, but we have now seen over 35,000 cases of Covid on campuses across the UK. Public health directors in Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool have already moved teaching online at universities in response to rising cases of Covid. The government's measures must follow suit, it cannot afford to undermine the country's sacrifice, and risk the health and safety of staff and students, by allowing in-person teaching to continue on campuses.'

UCU has collated over 35,000 cases of Covid on campuses across the UK. It has also launched a legal challenge to the government's decision to ignore advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to move learning at universities online.

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