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Update: 17 March 2020

NUS MEMBERSHIP UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) 17 March 2020

Our number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of the students and apprentices we all represent, and to this end we have been working closely with institutions, trade unions, national sector bodies like Universities UK, Association of Colleges, the Student Loans Company, and the government to inform our response to Coronavirus (Covid-19).

 

Here’s an update of what we are doing on your behalf to ensure your interests are represented as we tackle this pandemic:

 

  • Zamzam wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Monday 16 March to request the lowering of the Statutory Sick Pay threshold and ask for other support for student workers, as well as for FE and HE providers who may encounter funding difficulties because, for example, of lower international student recruitment
  • We’ve published an extensive list of questions for you to ask your institutions, and shared these with Universities UK and the Association of Colleges
  • We met with the Home Office today to discuss visas and immigration issues and sought assurances on support for international students
  • We’ll be attending the sector coordination group convened by Universities UK and their subgroups looking at issues such as welfare and wellbeing, international students and financial sustainability
  • We’re in contact with healthcare unions over rumoured proposals to fast-track final year healthcare students into the NHS and will work with them to ensure, if any such scheme is launched, students are supported properly
  • We’re contacting teaching unions, including the NEU and UCU, to discuss some of their requests and concerns including exam and assessment timetabling, and how we can work with them on sensible solutions
  • We’re working with the UNIPOL Code of Standards to communicate advice to the private sector purpose-built student accommodation sector, and keeping up to date on developments in this area
  •  We’ve contacted the Student Loans Company to seek assurances about student finance operations and support for students whose courses are disrupted or who may have to repeat years.

 

  • We’ve contacted Colleges Scotland, Universities Scotland and the Scottish Government today and shared with them the list of questions for SAs
  • Liam met with the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science and the Scottish Funding Council today to discuss the changing guidelines
  • We’re reaching out to healthcare unions and representative bodies on fast-tracking healthcare students in the Scottish context.

 

  • We’re sending the SU questions to the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales for a response
  • We’re also sending the SU questions to the Department for the Economy in Northern Irelan
  • We’re regularly speaking with sector bodies to keep up to date on how institutions are responding to the crisis.

 

  • We’re working with NUS UK and OneVoice to complete research with students about the pandemic. We’ll also collect insights into what’s needed to make students’ lives better during unprecedented changes to their studies and their social activity. You may have been contacted by Alterline, offering bespoke research for something similar for around £5,000
  • We’ll produce a synthesis of findings and also offer unions with response rates of 350 or more (100 for colleges and small and specialist institutions) anonymised raw data about their students too, free to NUS members. We’re currently designing the research, so if there are specific pieces of insight that would be useful to you, please email questions@nus.org.uk by close of play on Thursday 19 March. We recognise this is a tight deadline but want to move swiftly to ensure the movement has the information it needs to plan next steps effectively
  • We’re organising a webinar for members on Thursday 19 March to update you on the work we’ve been doing in light of the Covid-19 developments, to signpost you to the support channels available, and identify other areas where NUS can support you.

 

Due to the recent government guidance announcements we’re changing how we deliver our events and conferences. Key changes to note this week are that:

  • NUS Scotland will take place online on Thursday 19 March only
  • National conference election hustings are now not being streamed live but will be available as recordings by the end of the week
  • NUS Convention will be delivered at a different time and date
  • National Conference will also be moving online.

 

Delegates have all been contacted and you’ll find more here.