COVID-19 Update

On Saturday, it was announced that a second nationwide lockdown would come into effect at 00:01 on Thursday 5th November, until 1st December. Although universities are ‘exempt’ from restrictions, the government has yet to provide full guidance regarding what this exemption means in practice, and the University is currently waiting for further information from the Department for Education. We appreciate that this term has already been very difficult for students, and the government’s most recent announcement only adds to the confusion. The situation is moving very quickly and we will be updating students as we learn more. This statement aims to outline what we know so far and what to look out for in the days and weeks ahead. 

 

Here are some key points from the University:

  • Face-to-face teaching will continue provided there is willingness from both parties, unless the University changes tier. 

  • Labs will remain open for research. 

  • Libraries will remain open, but services will likely be reduced. 

  • Pending confirmation from the Department for Education, College bars might remain open and the rule of six legislation may continue to apply. 

  • The Student Services Building, which is currently being used for Friday Prayers, will close. 

  • The University Sports Centre will likely close.

  • The University is also waiting for further guidance from the DfE on whether students will be able to return home over the vacation. 

 

Unfortunately, the Collegiate University will not change its position on its residency requirement. However, if students wish to leave you can still speak to your College Nurse or Senior Tutor to begin this process. Importantly, you should be aware that if you live in College accommodation and leave without getting permission, you will likely continue to be charged rent for the time that you are away.

 

As your Students’ Union, we are aware that these changes will be distressing for many, and we will continue our #DemandSafeCambridge campaign to protect students and staff. In the coming weeks, we will prioritise lobbying for:

 

  1. Students to be given the flexibility of choice regarding whether they want to stay in Cambridge or leave, and be appropriately supported (welfare support and access to education) in either case

  2. The University and Colleges to prevent a worsening of student loneliness with a welfare response which recognises that this is not a ‘normal’ year 

  3. A compassionate approach to student discipline which prioritises students’ wellbeing and encourages everyone to act responsibly

 

We’ve also been working closely with the International Students’ Campaign to support their Open Letter, which will be launched today. The Open Letter builds on weeks of consultation and a survey of 576 international students, and demands that the University and Colleges commit to prioritising flexibility and empathy in the weeks and months ahead. As we’ve outlined here, the problems facing international students concern us all - we encourage everyone to read and sign the Open Letter here.

As always, feel free to get in contact with us if you have concerns about the next few months on our Facebook accounts or at our email addresses https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/yourunion/contact/. You can also speak to your J/MCR representatives about any College-related issues you have; we will be running College Forum sessions this week on Wednesday (for MCRs) and Thursday (for JCRs). If you have Department-related or other academic concerns, you can attend our special Academic Forum this Wednesday 4th at 4pm, which will be open to all students.

We would also recommend getting in touch with the Students’ Advice Service if you need individual support, whether it’s course-related or college-related, and everything and anything in between. The University Counselling Service is also here to support students. The SU Sabbatical Officers are also running drop-in sessions for self-isolating students every Thursday afternoon, and our Liberation Campaigns have been working hard to run events and social opportunities for students (you can find these on their social media).