Universities say campuses are safe as students return for the start of term

  • Watch a report from ITV Anglia's Rebecca Haworth

Universities in the Anglia region welcoming students on to their campuses for a new academic year have been keen to stress that all precautions are being taken to keep students, staff and local communities safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reassurance comes after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at universities elsewhere in the country, with some students saying they're apprehensive about coming back.

These returning students at the University of Northampton told ITV News Anglia how they felt about coming back

Students at the University of Northampton are resuming some face-to face learning after it was suspended in the summer term.

The Waterside Campus and halls of residence are open with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place.

The library and other social and sporting facilities will also be open.

University of Northampton class Credit: ITV News Anglia

Regardless of how it's delivered the university is confident that all teaching will be of the highest quality.

It says its flexible method of teaching, called Active Blended Learning, was developed even before the pandemic caused so much disruption.

Buildings and catering facilities are not yet open to the public, however members of the community are welcome to enjoy outdoor public spaces and riverside walks at the Waterside Campus as long as social distancing is observed. 

The University has produced a video to illustrate the safety measures taken.

Testing for all students at UEA

Meanwhile the University of East Anglia in Norwich has launched in-house Covid-19 testing for its staff and students to help limit asymptomatic transmission on campus and in the community.

UEA COVID-19 testing Credit: University of East Anglia

Staff and students will be able to get a free swab test for Covid-19 at the start of the academic year.

It's hoped this will limit transmission of the virus and reassure students, staff and the wider Norwich community.

UEA Test kit Credit: University of East Anglia

In partnership with the Earlham Institute, the initiative is making use of the university's scientific expertise and the laboratory facilities on Norwich Research Park.

It's separate from the national Covid-19 testing programme and the UEA is looking for further funding to support the work.

The test, which tells people if they have the virus at time of testing, is being offered on a voluntary basis to all students at UEA including undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students, as well as to staff who are regularly working on campus.

People are being asked to sign-up online before collecting a test kit from campus. They'll then self-administer a swab test and return it that day.

The team will endeavour to return test results within 24 hours of receiving the swab. All students and staff are asked to follow the University’s Safety First Covid-19 checklist and safety measures, regardless of their result.

UEA COVID-19 test kit Credit: University of East Anglia

The scheme follows on from the successful Norwich Testing Initiative pilot study which ran over the summer and it is hoped that programme can now be extended.

The University of East Anglia says it will be offering as much face-to-face teaching as is safely and practically possible, including small group teaching and workshops, tutorials and practical laboratory and campus fieldwork sessions.