- A paper prepared by the Department for Education (DfE). ‘DfE: Reopening further education providers. DfE: Reopening further education providers - analytical pack, 1 July 2020
- A Paper from SAGE ‘SAGE paper on further and higher education (Updated) - 21 July 2020’
- A Paper prepared by Children’s Task and Finish Group (TFC) and Government Office for Science (GOS). ‘TFC: Risks associated with the reopening of education settings in September, 8 July 2020’
The notion that there is a two-tier system in Higher Education in the UK was deeply entrenched before the COVID-19 crisis (TEFS 15th June 2019 'Student Living Index 2019: Hiding a two-tier ‘student experience’ in the UK'). Well supported students have more time to study and readily join clubs and other groups. They build networks that enhance their careers. Others serve them in the bars and restaurants and have less time to study. They return to their cheap and rundown private accommodation, or endure a long commute, and are somewhat detached from the notion of a ‘typical’ university experience. They hold down jobs during the term and are exhausted most of the time ( See TEFS 5th June 2020 'Blind spot about student finances cruelly exposed by COVID-19 crisis'). The lock-down removed access to library facilities that they needed due to poor access to the internet at their home or in their student accommodation. The reports show no sign of acknowledging that some students will be more exposed to the dangers than others. It is yet again another sign of the ‘blind spot’ (see TEFS 16th June 2020 ‘University student part-time working is a dangerous blind spot’).
The shock to the system exposed cruel inequalities.
Mike Larkin, retired from Queen's University Belfast after 37 years teaching Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. He has served on the Senate and Finance and planning committee of a Russell Group University.