The university has detailed changed plans for students returning in Lent Term, following new government guidance issued on Wednesday (30th December).
In an email to students, Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope explained that ‘the majority of undergraduate and taught postgraduate students should not return before 25th January’.
The university had previously encouraged students, not already in Cambridge, to return ‘during the weekend of 16th and 17th January’.
An earlier return will be allowed for some students, however, ‘including:
– Medical, Veterinary and PGCE students returning for placements;
– Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities;
– Students who need to be in Cambridge for specific reasons, including health-related reasons.’
‘Students who are already in Cambridge should remain in Cambridge,’ Toope stated.
‘International students who are able to change their return plans should consider doing so. If this is not possible, for reasons including the cost of rearranging travel, students should notify their colleges and return to Cambridge as planned.’
‘Postgraduate research students who need to be in Cambridge for their research projects can return – though we strongly encourage this group of students not to do so before the week of 11th January, when asymptomatic testing will restart.’
Following government guidance, ‘individual tests will be available from 11th January for those who have to return early’, while ‘the pooled asymptomatic testing programme for student households will resume on 18th January.’
These updated plans follow a letter by the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, to higher education providers on 30th December, which outlined that, bar some exceptions, the return of students ‘should be paused until at least the week commencing 25th January’.
‘The government will review this decision and provide further communication to providers in the week commencing 18th January.’
‘On the basis of this review, we will ask providers to plan for the staggered return of further students, prioritising those who will most benefit from in-person provision.’
‘In these challenging times we must continue to adapt to put in place strengthened measures to reduce transmission rates across the country, whilst maintaining our commitment to education,’ Donelan continued.
Toope explained that ‘in light of the growing number of Covid-19 cases across most parts of the United Kingdom, and the extension of Tier 4 restrictions to many regions of the country, the Department for Education has put in place further measures to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 in universities.’