SENEDD members have written to the vice-chancellors of Wales' universities asking for assurances about what they are doing to protect students from the impact of coronavirus.

The Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee has written the letter following examples of campus lockdowns in England and Scotland, and concerns over whether students would be able to return home over Christmas.

And this week, Aberystwyth University suspended in-person teaching after a number of students tested positive for coronavirus.


Education Minister Kirsty Williams said it would be "unwise" to rule out locking down whole campuses, but the Welsh Government will leave "no stone unturned" to reunite families over the holidays.

Torfaen MS Lynne Neagle, who chairs the committee, said: “It has been a matter of days since many of us waved our children off to what they hoped would be one of the most exciting times of their lives.

“But we have already seen some very distressing stories emerging from around the UK about the impact this pandemic is having on students and staff as they begin the new term.

“This is a deeply concerning time. As a committee, we feel it only right to thoroughly examine the steps being taken by institutions here in Wales to protect our students and higher education staff, and to make sure that everything that can be done to minimise the pandemic’s impact is put in place quickly.”

The Committee has asked institutions to set out:

  • What Covid-19 measures they have taken in relation to their own accommodation, and how they have worked with Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSAs) and private landlords (with reference to arrangements for both term and vacation periods);
  • How they intend to support – or have been supporting – all students (on and off-campus) who have needed to self-isolate, including how they would support large numbers self-isolating at the same time (for example the provision of food and drink that meets dietary requirements, medicine, mental health support and other essentials);
  • The provision they have in place for identifying and addressing student hardship;
  • Their approach to working with students on Covid-19 measures, including self-isolation;
  • How they are working and integrating with local authorities and health boards, and to confirm whether they have on-campus testing facilities for students;
  • How they have engaged – and are engaging – with the local population, in particular where they have campuses in rural local authorities;
  • And any recommendations they believe the Committee could helpfully make to the Welsh Government to improve support for universities, staff and students.