Prof Julia Buckingham, president of Universities UK, said she was “really concerned” about the “50 percent” of students who are learning remotely because of Covid rules. University students on practical courses, who require specialist facilities, began returning to face-to-face teaching on March 8. But there are fears the Government could delay the final phase of returns from April 12 to May 17.
UUK, which represents vice-chancellors, has urged the Government to allow students back on campus as soon as possible after Easter.
It warned ministers must not take students’ “resilience for granted”.
Prof Buckingham said: “I am really concerned about students’ mental health and wellbeing and very concerned also about the personal development of students, so much of which depends on face-to-face human interactions.”
She added that universities were “very well prepared to welcome students back” and have “invested huge amounts of money” in making campuses Covid-safe.
The Daily Express Fair Deal for Students campaign is calling for better mental health support, more hardship funding and rent rebates.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group of public research universities, said: “We are particularly concerned about the impact on student mental health and that some students may not be able to take part in extra activities universities have planned for the rest of the year that would aim to boost employability, consolidate learning and help build networks.”
A statement from the Department for Education said: “We will be reviewing options for the timing of the return of all remaining students by the end of the Easter holidays.”