Bucks New University has pleaded with its students to “do the right thing” amid the ongoing fight against Covid-19 – and said it will back sanctions for those who do not adhere to the rules.
New and returning students are heading to universities across the UK in the next few weeks despite uncertainty about an emerging coronavirus second wave.
Bucks New University said its students have been sent an email explaining what they need to do to stay “Covid-secure” and what is expected of them as they arrive on campus.
But the uni said it would stand together with the student union to back sanctions for those who do not adhere to the “rules around safe behaviours”.
Despite this, staff said students will receive a “warm welcome” – with a range of online and socially-distanced activities which comply with government guidance planned.
Professor Nick Braisby, Vice-Chancellor of Bucks New University said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the university’s communities.
“The younger generation are particularly impacted by restrictions on behaviour and lifestyle, and the economic recession which is significantly affecting their chances for employment.
“The return of our students to campus therefore gives the whole community a reason to celebrate, as students and staff bring economic activity, enrich the arts and culture, and support voluntary and charitable institutions.
“We can’t wait to welcome them back and are determined to do so in a way that’s safe and considerate to our local communities.
“We’ve worked hard over the summer to ensure our campuses are Covid-secure, and now each and every student and member of staff must protect one another and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
He added: “Our university community has worked tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19, with our staff and students serving on the front line in healthcare and volunteering to help those in need.
“We’re proud to be part of our local communities and committed to being socially responsible and to making a positive contribution.
“I want to reassure everyone in our communities that we’re taking our responsibilities seriously and fully commit to ‘doing our bit’ to fight Covid-19, and that we’ll be expecting and supporting our students to do the same.”
Bucks New University students have been urged to take the ‘Be Bucks Safe’ pledge, in which they commit to washing their hands often, use hand sanitiser, maintain social distancing, stay home if they feel ill, follow signage, and report any concerns to the Student Information Centre.
There have already been reports of a string of Covid-19 cases at universities across the UK as students return, despite many offering online classes.
There are no official figures on university Covid outbreaks but the BBC reports from tracking local news that around 40 universities have seen cases so far.
Bucks New University has spent the summer making the campus Covid-safe by introducing temperature scanners, signage, PPE and an enhanced cleaning schedule.
A joint call to action has now been issued urging students to play their part.
Tamsin Grainger, President of Bucks Students’ Union said she knows Bucks students will “rise to the challenge”. She said: “We’re really excited to welcome all our members, the students of Bucks New University, back to our campuses.
“They bring so much valuable diversity, culture and vibrancy to our local towns and villages and I know many local community groups, organisations and businesses are as pleased to see them as we are.
“We have many great, socially distanced events and activities in store and everyone at the university has worked tirelessly to ensure we’ve adapted what we offer in a responsible way.
“I’m proud of all that our students do to support our local communities including giving up many hundreds of hours of their time each year to make a difference and help others.
“We’re working with the university to make sure students know what they need to do to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.
“I know Bucks students will rise to the challenge.”