UK wants university students to be able to return home for Christmas

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

(Reuters) – The British government wants university students to be able to return home for Christmas, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Sunday, amid concerns that more lockdown measures may be needed to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus outbreaks have forced some colleges to ask students — many of whom are far from home and paying thousands of pounds for accommodation and teaching — to self-isolate in their rooms and follow lectures online.

“I very much want students to be able to go home at Christmas,” Dowden told Sky News.

“We’re three months away from Christmas. We’ve announced a range of measures. We are constantly keeping this situation under review.”

But the government is facing disquiet from some of its own lawmakers who are pushing for parliament to have more of a say over COVID restrictions, including through an amendment being pushed by prominent lawmakers Graham Brady and Steve Baker.

The opposition Labour Party indicated it could support such a move.

“If it’s selected, I think that the likelihood is that we would back it,” the opposition Labour Party’s culture spokeswoman Jo Stevens told Sky News.