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Weekly news roundup: UK unis will remain closed until May, and US uni leaders ask for easing of travel restrictions

Nicole Wootton-Cane
Last Updated: 17 July 2021 • 2 min read

In a week where much of the rest of the UK reopened for outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail, students found out they will not be allowed to return to campus until 17 May at the earliest. 

Meanwhile in the US, university leaders have written to the government asking for greater flexibility in travel arrangements for international students, in order to welcome many back in the autumn term. 

And in New Zealand, experts are projecting a slow but successful recovery from the pandemic. 

Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup.

UK campus reopening pushed back

After weeks of lobbying the government for a clear return date, UK university leaders are widely critical of the government’s decision not to reopen university campuses. 

This week has seen non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality reopen across England, but university students have been told that they cannot return to campus until 17 May at the earliest. 

University bosses have called the decision “bizarre”, and are appealing to the government to reverse the decision, which will see many students receive no in-person teaching this term.

And in another blow for students hoping for in-person teaching, the largest university teaching union looks set to go on strike over pensions again, according to experts. 

The University and College Union (UCU) have taken industrial action multiple times over the last three years over the issues of pensions and pay. 

The fresh round of strikes are anticipated as a reaction to Universities UK (UUK)’s proposals to make pension contributions less generous in order to balance out increases to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). 

It is not yet clear when these strikes would take place, or how many universities will be affected. 

US universities push for greater flexibility for international students

US university leaders have written to the government, asking them to reopen visa processing centres and waive in-person interview requirements to allow international students to travel to their destination universities.

17 universities in New York State have also asked the government to extend travel restriction exemptions, which are currently only available to students from the UK, Ireland, and the European Schengen area. 

Signatories include Columbia University, Cornell University, and Stony Brook University, who wrote: “We are concerned that many embassies and consulates around the world remain closed and therefore unable to process international student visas.”

“Given the average length of processing times, this is a matter of some urgency for international students who need to begin making plans to travel to the United States safely by the start of the next academic year.”

New Zealand IE sector will ‘build back better’ 

New Zealand’s international education bosses have told the country’s parliament that the sector will “build back better” over the next ten years. 

The country’s borders are currently closed to most international students as they aim to maintain their pandemic-free status. 

However, Education New Zealand chair Steve Maharey said that the sector would return as a very different industry that will be able to “serve a wide range of goals”. 

“Our reputation for our country is still very high and we are still seen as high demand,” said Grant McPherson, ENZ chief executive. “Education quality is still highly regarded and the key to it will be can people get access to it.”

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Nicole Wootton-Cane
Written By
Nicole Wootton-Cane

Nicole lives in Manchester and is a Content Writer and Editor at Edvoy and journalist.

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