University students have had next to no face-to-face teaching so far this academic year.
That’s not set to change in the next few weeks either as England’s third national lockdown – which has closed schools, colleges and universities – continues.
As a result students will have to continue learning online from their uni halls and houses.
If lockdown restrictions can start to be lifted in the coming weeks, the government has said getting students back to classrooms will be the priority.
Boris Johnson said on Wednesday: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms.”
So when can students, who are paying thousands of pounds for their education and accommodation, expect to return to their lecture theatres?
When will universities reopen?
The UK government has confirmed that all education settings, including schools, colleges and universities, will not reopen to pupils and students until Monday March 8 at the earliest.
The Prime Minister will announce on February 22 a roadmap out of lockdown, which will also include confirmation on whether the March 8 target can be met.
Reopening from March 8 depends on a number of factors, including Covid vaccination rates amongst the top four priority groups.
By the time Mr Johnson announces the roadmap on February 22, the government and its scientific advisors are also expected to have enough data about how effective the vaccines are at reducing hospitalisations and deaths, as well as the efficacy of lockdown and current hospital patient numbers.
After Mr Johnson’s announcement Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: “It is this country’s priority to get all children and young people back into face-to-face education and apprenticeship training, but it is crucial we do this at the right time and I want to assure parents, teachers, children and young people that schools, colleges and universities will be the first to fully return as soon as the public health picture allows it.”
Whatever date schools and universities start to reopen, the government has said they will get two weeks’ notice.
Who can go in for lectures at the moment
The only students allowed in for face-to-face teaching at the moment are those on critical courses such as medical, clinical and healthcare subjects.
All other students should continue studying remotely until at least March 8.
The Department for Education says students and staff on campus “should take part in twice weekly testing on offer to help limit transmission and identify asymptomatic cases”.