In order to travel home safely, students in England will be required to follow the current national restrictions in place until 2 December, completing this four-week period in their term-time accommodation.
From 3 December to 9 December, which will be known as the ‘student travel window’, students will be allowed to travel home on staggered departure dates set by universities, who will work with other institutions in the region to manage pressure on transport infrastructure.
The student travel window will mean students can travel having just completed the four-week period of national restrictions, reducing the risk of transmission to family and friends at home.
Universities should move learning online by 9 December so students can continue their education while also having the option to return home to study from there.
Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister, said: “We know this Christmas will feel different, and after this incredibly difficult year we are absolutely committed to getting students back to their loved ones in time for the Christmas break.
“But I know residents in Chichester might wonder how students leaving campus, or those coming back to the area, might affect them.
“I want to reassure everyone that we have worked really hard to find a way to do this for this group, while limiting the risk of transmission.
“With the national lockdown measures, staggered leave times, safer travel guidance and any additional assurances from testing, we are confident transmission can be controlled, and we can enable these students to have the Christmas break they deserve.”
The Government will also work closely with universities to establish mass testing capacity.
Tests will be offered to as many students as possible before they travel home for Christmas, with universities in areas of high prevalence prioritised, a spokesman said.
This will provide further reassurance that where students test negative, they can return home safely and minimise the risk of passing coronavirus on to their loved ones.
If a student tests positive before their departure they will need to remain in self-isolation for the required period of ten days.
Moving all learning online by 9 December gives enough time for students to complete the isolation period and return home for Christmas.