Cllr Susan Dungworth
Cllr Susan Dungworth

If there’s a way of adding insult to injury, this is it, says the leader of Northumberland Labour Group.

This is the way Councillor Susan Dungworth has described the latest news that students have been encouraged to travel to their respective universities, only to find they are effectively imprisoned in university halls of residence, locked down because of coronavirus outbreaks.

Susan said: “These are the same young people who were subjected to the A-level fiasco. Encouraged to still go to university, they now find themselves stuck in tiny study/bedrooms, sharing bathrooms and kitchens with strangers, forbidden from going out and receiving any tuition online, rather than the ‘blended learning’ they were promised.  And they are still paying over £9K tuition fees, as well as vast sums for accommodation.

“Most will be living away of home for the first time and will be hundreds of miles away from family and friends. These young people have been robbed of so many rites of passage, such as leaver’s assemblies, proms, eighteenth birthday celebrations and fresher’s week and now they are quite literally being robbed and facing years of debt for this miserable experience.

“If returning students had been told that they would not have any face to face teaching or access to library and sports facilities at university, they too may have chosen to save money by staying at home and not paying rent, transport and food bills.

“Ministers say that they needed to go to university to ‘get on with their lives’ and for the sake of their mental health.  Well I am no expert, but I do not believe that this is good for their mental health, especially as they are told they may not be able to go home for Christmas. No, the reason the government wanted them to go to university was because that did not want to give the university and private rented sectors to same financial support that other sectors of the economy have been afforded.

“The government knew exactly what they were doing when they sent young people to universities across the country, they knew that it would lead to a spread of the virus, they knew it would put undue pressure on universities and local communities, they knew many young people would be left isolated, alone and often ill, but they still did it.

“This government has let young people and their families down so badly and our children and grandchildren are bearing the brunt of their callous incompetence now and for many years to come.”

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