WATCH: Students used as “cash cows” by universities, says Labour MP

Andrew Kersley

Siobhan McDonagh has accused universities of treating their students like “cash cows” and suggested that the UK should consider refunds for students as thousands face campus lockdowns.

The Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden told viewers on the BBC’s Politics Live programme this afternoon that the Covid outbreaks at universities “could have been anticipated” by the government.

Commenting on proposals to reduce fees for students facing lockdown in their campus accommodation, McDonagh said: “They certainly should have a look at it. It does seem like they being used as cash cows in a way…

“Any of these problems, surely could have been anticipated before term started. Students like to have fun, like to go out in fresher’s week – that’s not news to anyone, is it?”

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green called on her counterpart Gavin Williamson over the weekend to delay the start of university terms this year until mass testing is available on campuses.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, she said: “The key to students staying safe on campus is testing… Despite the government’s inaction, universities like Leicester and Cambridge are developing their own testing capacity.

“What steps is your department taking to ensure that every university that wishes to do so is able to deliver this capacity on their campus? And what progress is the government making to ensure there is sufficient testing capacity in university communities to ensure those who have symptoms can be tested quickly?”

1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University, who have been forced to quarantine for a fortnight, have been banned from leaving their flats – even to get a test at a walk-in centre less than a mile away.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has accused the SNP of “punishing” students for its own “incompetence” after Nicola Sturgeon’s administration announced a variety of restrictions for students in Scotland.

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