University contradicts government and tells students to stay away until February

Students will have lessons remotely until February 22 (Picture: Getty Images)

University College London (UCL) has told its students there is no need to return to campus until at least late February – directly contradicting government advice. 

It comes amid chaos in the education sector on the first day schools were supposed to return after the Christmas holidays. 

The Government is currently advising that universities stagger the return to campus and that all students should be back by the end of January. However, new restrictions are widely expected in a major announcement by the Prime Minister at 8pm tonight. 

UCL’s move comes as all primary and secondary schools were closed in the capital on what would have been the first day of term – even as other primary schools around the country opened for one day, ahead of Boris Johnson’s address, which is expected to close schools. 

UCL – part of the University of London – said in a statement published on Saturday: ‘Our current and most realistic assessment is that it is unlikely that case rates will have reduced sufficiently to allow students to return to campus before at least mid-February, and quite possibly the end of March.

‘We will therefore be moving all teaching and other face-to-face, in-person activities online from the start of term until the end of reading week.

‘There will be no in-person teaching on campus until Monday 22 February, at the earliest.’

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Margaret Ferrier speaking in the House of Commons in London on September 28, 2020. - Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has told Margaret Ferrier to quit as an MP after breaking coronavirus rules by travelling between Glasgow and Westminster having tested positive for the novel coronavirus Covid-19. (Photo by Handout / PRU / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / PRU " - NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS (Photo by HANDOUT/PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

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The statement, from Provost Professor Michael Arthur and incoming Provost Dr Michael Spence, went on: ‘We are aware that this is later than the government is advising but we believe this is the most responsible course of action in this complex situation.’ has contacted UCL’s student union and the Department for Education for comment. 

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