Closed petition Close all universities down for an appropriate amount of time amidst COVID-19

We would like the government to to consider closing universities down in the coming weeks or as soon as possible, in addition to taking necessary actions to prevent further spread

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To prevent the spread of COVID-19

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

123,903 signatures

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100,000

The Petitions Committee decided not to debate this petition

Because it has not been possible to debate this petition to date, and the issues raised by this petition have been considered by the Committee in other ways, the Committee has agreed not schedule this petition for debate.

Government responded

This response was given on 24 March 2020

The Government’s number one priority is the safety of students and staff. The DfE is working with universities to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, based on guidance from Public Health England.

Read the response in full

The Government’s number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of students and staff. We will also do all we can to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector.

On 18 March, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary announced changes to the operational models of schools and colleges in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These changes show how much we need to ratchet up social distancing measures to deal with the outbreak.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting HE providers to remain open, as long as expert medical advice supports this. It is doing all it can to support the HE sector and its students, including encouraging them to make online teaching provision as widespread as possible for the summer term, in compliance with social distancing guidance.

Cessation of face-to-face teaching in favour of online provision is not closure. It is a move that enables compliance with social distancing guidance. We will continue to work with the sector to understand the developing range of options for distance teaching and learning and ensure that we support students where necessary.

Any decision to close universities would be based on careful consideration of multiple factors. In any eventuality, a significant number of students may be care leavers, students who are estranged from their families, and international students for whom alternative accommodation is not easily available or who are not able to get home because of travel restrictions. It is essential that these students are reassured that their provider will continue to support them through these difficult and unsettling times. Students who remain in campus accommodation will also need additional support, including access to counselling and mental health advice.

The Department for Education (DfE) stands ready to support providers in any discussion that is needed to ensure that they have access to the right resources to care for students. The Chancellor has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19.

Department for Education.

Other parliamentary business

Tell us what you want to know about the Government's response to coronavirus

As the result of the large numbers of petitions and signatures we've received on coronavirus, we will be putting your concerns and questions directly to the Government at an evidence session (a question and answer session with representatives from the Government) in the coming days.

Tell us what question(s) you'd like us to the ask the Government and experts in this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/petitionscommittee/

We'll email you again to let you know more about the session, including when it's going to happen, who'll be taking part and how you can watch it live.

We will also email you a link to the video and a transcript of the session afterwards.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website: http://www.parliament.uk/petitions-committee/role

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions

Watch the Petitions Committee question Universities Minister on the impact of coronavirus on YouTube

At 3.30pm tomorrow, Thursday 11 June,the Petitions Committee will question Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on universities and students.

Watch the session live:
YouTube: https://youtu.be/jIxlS5yuzHE
Parliamentlive.TV: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

We emailed people who had signed this petition by 16 March to ask for your questions about the Government’s response to coronavirus.

Thank you to everyone who sent us your questions: we received over 60,000.

We put the most requested questions to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Share your views on the impact of coronavirus on students

The Petitions Committee is looking into the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on university students, and would like to hear your views. This is in response to several petitions on the subject, including the petition you signed.

You can share your experiences by completing this short survey: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/KX4LJZ/.

The survey will stay open until Friday 15 May. The Committee will be looking at this issue next week, and your answers will help them understand the issues people are facing and will inform the questions they put to the Government. Any responses to the survey received after next week will still be considered by the Committee, and could inform further work on this issue.

The Committee might publish some or all of your responses, or read them out when they’re asking questions in a public Committee meeting or in the House of Commons, so please don’t share any personal information that you don’t want to be public.

We will update you on the Committee’s session, including a link to watch the session live. You can also get updates by following the Committee on Twitter @HOCpetitions or on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/.

What is the Petitions Committee?
The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs which is independent of the Government. It considers petitions submitted to https://petition.parliament.uk and paper (public) petitions.

Petitions Committee investigates the impact of COVID-19 on universities and students

On Thursday 7 May, the Petitions Committee is holding two formal oral evidence sessions on coronavirus. The second of these will look at the impact on students and universities, prompted by a petition you signed. The evidence sessions form part of the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into COVID-19.

Watch the session live from around 3.30pm on Thursday: https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

In advance of the sessions, the Petitions Committee asked those who has signed the petitions to share their experiences. The Committee is very grateful to all those who shared their views.

The session on the impact of coronavirus on students and universities will run from 15:30-16:30. It follows a petition signed by over 330,000 people which calls for universities to reimburse all students of this year’s fees due to strikes and COVID-19.

Read more about both sessions: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

The evidence sessions, which will be led by Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP, will explore the overarching issues raised by these petitions and will help the Committee better understand these issues and inform their constructive scrutiny of the Government on behalf of petitioners.

The evidence session will start around 15:30 on Thursday 7 May, and can be watched live on YouTube: https://youtu.be/TOFPLeE7dqQ

What is the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee is a cross-party group of MPs that considers e-petitions submitted on Parliament’s petitions website and public (paper) petitions presented to the House of Commons. It is independent of the Government.

You can get updates on their work by following the Committee on Twitter
@HoCpetitions or on their
website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

This is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Find out more about how petitions work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGEOraE08Jk&feature=youtu.be

Petitions Committee holds formal evidence session on impact of Covid-19 on students and universities

We emailed people who had signed this petition by 30 April to ask you to share your experiences.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this survey - we have received over 27,000 responses and counting.

Your responses informed the questions the Petitions Committee put to petitioners and representatives of students, lecturers and universities in a formal evidence session last Thursday 7 May.

Watch Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Committee, express her thanks to everyone who completed the survey: https://youtu.be/6UYHW6GaMSQ

The session was really useful in helping the Committee better understand the impact of the pandemic on students and universities, and will inform the next steps in the Committee's ongoing inquiry into the Government's response to coronavirus.

Watch the full session on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFPLeE7dqQ&t=71m50s

Find out more about the session, read a summary of what petitioners told us of their experiences, and a transcript of the session here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146332/petitions-committee-investigate-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-students-and-on-maternity-leave/

We’ll email you again to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?
We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information
You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The Government has also created an online service to help you out what you can do if you’re struggling because of coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

Petitions Committee to question Universities Minister on the impact of Coronavirus on 11 June

The Petitions Committee will later this week virtually question Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt across the higher education sector.

Watch the session live here from 15:30 on Thursday 11 June: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5859f062-7772-40c3-83c5-055ae87df55d

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, will lead the session, which will include questions on some of the vital issues being raised by students through petitions as the coronavirus crisis continues to frustrate and wreak havoc with the higher education system across the UK.

This latest evidence session comes as unprecedented numbers continue to engage with Parliament and the Petitions Committee on this issue – with tens of thousands of people sharing their views and concerns through social media, including more than 28,000 respondents to a survey on the issue.

In an evidence hearing organised by the Petitions Committee last month, Sophie Quinn, a student and the author of the initial petition, told Members how students felt “angry” and “frustrated” as Coronavirus prevented them from getting the education they had paid for. The University of Liverpool student told the Committee "this whole year has been disrupted by strikes and the coronavirus,” before adding that students feel “completely ignored” over the issue.

Read Sophie’s petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

Update on Petitions Committee’s work on students, universities and covid-19

Last week, the Petitions Committee heard oral evidence from the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, about the effect of coronavirus on students.

You can watch the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIxlS5yuzHE&feature=youtu.be
Find out more here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/news/146769/petitions-committee-to-question-universities-minister-on-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-university-students/

During the session, the Committee pressed the Minister for answers to some of the vital issues raised by students through petitions, as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with the UK's higher education system.

Next steps
The Committee will now produce a report, bringing together everything you have shared with us on Facebook and through online surveys, as well as the formal evidence it has received.

The Committee will report its findings and make recommendations to the Government, who will then need to respond and decide whether and how to act on them. You will receive another update as soon as the release date for the report is confirmed.

In the meantime, you can contact your local MP to encourage them to put pressure on the Government on your behalf. Find their contact details here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

Once again, the Committee would like to thank everyone who has shared their experiences. This information has been vital in informing the work of the Committee so far, and will inform our recommendations to the Government.

Report: The impact of COVID-19 on university students

We have today – Monday 13 July - published our report on the impact of Covid-19 on students and university. This report is a result of our inquiry into this petition, among others.

The report sets out the evidence we have heard from students, university staff, and Government Ministers, and recommends a number of actions we feel the Government needs to take to address the impact of COVID-19 on students and universities.

In the report, the Committee recognises the huge disruption that Covid-19 has had on students’ education, and calls for the Government to take a number of actions, including:
- provide guidance on how students can claim refunds or repeat parts of their courses
- establish an easier system for students who believe they haven’t received the education to which they are entitled to seek a refund
- provide financial support for students who may wish to extend their education; and
- consider providing emergency funding to universities, to support them in refunding eligible students

Read the full report from 00:01 on Monday: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmpetitions/527/52702.htm

Petitions Committee agrees not to debate petition calling for closure of universities

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs that looks at petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk) would normally debate petitions that secure more than 100,000 signatures.

However, Petition debates normally take place in Westminster Hall, the second Chamber of the House of Commons, and these debates were cancelled in March because of Covid-19. This means that the Petitions Committee has been unable to schedule debates on petitions over 100,000 signatures in the usual way.

Following the publication of this petition, while universities were not required to close most universities did move course activity online. Universities are now making arrangements for how they will operate in the next academic year, and the Government has produced guidance on the reopening of higher education buildings and campuses.

You can read the Government's guidance on reopening higher education buildings and campuses here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses

The Petitions Committee investigated the impact of Covid-19 on university students, and published a report on this which included discussion of decisions about how universities operate during the outbreak. You can read the Committee's report here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1810/documents/17711/default/

Because it has not been possible to debate this petition to date, and the issues raised by this petition have been considered by the Committee in other ways, the Committee has agreed not schedule this petition for debate.

The Petitions Committee has been questioning the Government about its response to the coronavirus outbreak in a number of ways, and you can find out more about this work here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/