Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister on Monday evening, I write to express my concern with Government policy regarding universities. As a resident in your constituency, I attended Queen Elizabeth’s High School before Oxford University. Tonight I am back home in Scotton, feeling abandoned by a government I voted for and facing more months of lost time and broken dreams.
When revising for A-Levels, motivation for thousands of students is the prospect of going to the university of their choice. Many have a picture of it on their bedroom wall to act as inspiration for late-night revision. That dream arrived. Yet as soon as we were beginning to make our own memories, it was suddenly taken away. For the remainder of the year, the country made the correct decision, and put on hold the lives of the young, to save the vulnerable.
The place we had dreamt of for years, was back being a solitary photo on the wall. Yet this time it was harder. That photo represented the friends we now couldn’t see, the events that would never be replaced, and the missed conversations that would have led to academic enlightenment and social joy.
It was thus with much excitement that I received news of our planned return when the Education Secretary promised face to face learning. Reality did not match up to the dream. The first term was disrupted with a second lockdown and no face to face teaching. It still stands that the last in-person lesson I had was back on the 4th March.
Yet once again Mr Williamson promised us our return. Lateral Flow Tests, which have by Mr Hancock’s own admission been successful in Liverpool and in securing students’ safe return at Christmas, would ensure we did not carry the virus with us back to university.
Instead, we face another term separated from friends, without sufficient teaching, whilst spending thousands on accommodation that lies empty. It is thus with both anger and sadness that I write this letter.
Particularly on hearing the Government’s own justification for this third lockdown. The Prime Minister has said it was needed as new data showed the new strain had reached everywhere in the UK. Also, because 80,000 people tested positive on the 29th December.
This explanation only reveals your government’s own failure. Those who tested positive on the 29th most likely caught the virus on Christmas Day when the Prime Minister allowed them to meet. On the 18th December, the PM was informed that the new strain wouldn’t be stopped by placing the South East in Tier 4. Instead, he waited until now for a lockdown.
It is for this reason that I can only conclude that your government and party – one that a year ago stood for levelling up and opportunity – decided it was best to sacrifice the return of education in January, to allow Christmas to continue.
The indecision of a Prime Minister millions of us voted for, has cost our education and unfortunately hundreds of lives. It is your party that has let down the country and the next generation.
I implore you to reconsider the policy over the next few weeks of allowing university to go ahead online. Is it not best, confident of a successful vaccine rollout in February, to delay our education by only weeks, instead of forcing us into a substandard term, with neither social nor academic benefit? I ask why in four days, a testing strategy once promised to be our escape route out of this pandemic, was suddenly not sufficient for the return of students?
Lockdown was always meant to be a two-way deal. We sacrificed our livelihoods, whilst the Government built structural resilience to the virus. I have volunteered in Lincolnshire in helping the elderly, delivering supplies to those shielding, and helping carry out vaccinations. In return, I and thousands of others have received nothing but lost hope. For a whole generation, relationships are ending, friendships are wilting. The fear of losing those years that are meant to be the best that life offers grows stronger each day. Deprived of university, school leavers’ parties, and many other passages of life, we all risk becoming ‘names unmade’. It is your Government that I hold responsible.
I look forward to hearing back from you,
Thank you, Erik Green