The UK government has announced that students enrolled in all university courses will return to campus "no earlier than 17th of May". This announcement aligns with the next phase of the lockdown de-escalation, when cinemas and theatres can also open.
Since the beginning of the year, only students studying vocational courses or courses with practical elements have been allowed in-person teaching; now, however, approximately a million students who have been taking online courses since Christmas will be able to go back to university campuses soon.
There have been a range of reactions to this announcement; the wait for another month to fully open was described as "hugely disappointing" by Universities UK. University leaders have been rooting for students to return to campus in April, explaining that it was unfair to keep campus restrictions while shops were open.
In a written statement, Minister of State for Universities Michell Donelan stated that: "The timing was a "cautious approach to the easing of restrictions" and "the movement of students across the country poses a risk for the transmission of the virus".
Additionally, the universities minister announced that there would be an additional £15m for student hardship support this year. Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, the National Union of Students vice president, predicted that students would need a lot of support after going through so much disruption.
Covid testing will be offered to students on campus when they return - with an initial three tests under supervision, after which students will be asked to take tests at home.