Greater Manchester students face second lockdown at University

As the second national lockdown begins, students feel they have been left in the dark again and accused the government of putting money before safety.

First, their academic year was cut short by the first UK lockdown and, with no knowledge of how A-Level exam results or graduations would work, they were confused at best and scared at worst.
Then, the results came in.

A week after the Scottish exam results caused controversy and were almost immediately revoked, the England and Wales A-Level results scandal left 18-year-olds sobbing and their parents horrified.

Now, university students have been told not to go home as the new restrictions come into place, but with absolutely no certainty that restrictions will be lifted on December 2.

There are 1.2 million students in England who are studying at a university which is outside their home region.

Students in Greater Manchester feel like they have been left with no choice but to stay in the city.

The National Union of Students has said that students are concerned about the new restrictions and some will want the support of having their family and friends nearby.

A first year student at Salford University is wary about the added uncertainty.

He told MM: “I’m dreading it. The government has been so vague about the whole thing and I don’t know what’s happening from one day to the next.”

When asked about the overall government handling of the pandemic and students he described it as very poor.

He said: “I feel blamed for a situation yet told unis can stay open.

“They are looking for people to blame their blunders on and it’s the students that have faced all the criticism and have had no offer of support.”

And, many students across Greater Manchester have been left with little to no support from their universities either.

One first-year student said there had been no support from Salford University regarding the upcoming lockdown and another said it has never been made clear what services, if any, are available to them.

He also spoke about the government handling of the pandemic: “I think the government could have and should have done more earlier.

“Eat out to Help Out was counterproductive and it was opening schools that raised infection rates.

“They know that if they shut Unis but still want us to pay £9K, students will protest and go mad.
“It really is a case of money over safety.”

Students at the University of Manchester said they have also had a lack of support from their accommodation providers and their universities.

A first-year student who has chosen not to return home this month said she is still worried about the uncertainty around Christmas.

She said she has had only brief contact from the university and when asked about what support has been offered to her she simply said: “Nothing.

“I think the government has treated university students with no care or consideration.

“They should have a lot of guilt for the way they have treated young people who are in a completely new environment.”

As MM spoke to more and more students across Greater Manchester it quickly became clear that this view was a widely shared one.

Since March, many students have felt overlooked, unfairly blamed and even forgotten by the British Government.

They have started university in new places in the middle of a global pandemic and then subsequently blamed when everything went awry.

Thousands of students have had to self-isolate already this term.

Now, they feel more alone than ever as many feel pressured to stay at university despite the growing uncertainty.

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