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University students’ belongings still in UK

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A JERSEY politician has called on the government to support Islanders who have faced problems as a result of having to interrupt their studies at UK universities.

Deputy Robert Ward Picture: ROB CURRIE. (28423887)

Hundreds of students returned to the Island in March and early April as the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of courses at institutions across the UK.

Many students were forced to leave possessions behind as a result of the suspension, while others living in private accommodation have been hit with large rent bills, and Deputy Rob Ward believes the government should be looking to provide help.

Deputy Ward said his family had been affected as his daughter was home in Jersey, completing her final year of study at Liverpool University, and he was sure many others were facing problems.

‘People are more important than possessions, and it’s good that most students could get home, but lots of them weren’t able to bring everything back with them,’ he said.

‘Rather than students or their parents calling round courier companies or having to pay more money for storage, I think there could be a more co-ordinated approach.

‘The Education Department should have contact details for those studying off the Island, and could send a short survey round to ask if anyone needs help.’

Deputy Ward said the issue was adding to an anxious time for students who were having to adapt to studying from home and also suffering financial difficulty as a result of uncertainty about work, whether this was permanent employment after graduation or seasonal work to pay off debts.

‘I appreciate this is a very difficult situation and that in March it was hard to know the severity of it, but I believe that there is scope to provide help to those who need it,’ he added.

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The Isle of Man government said this week it was looking at whether help could be given to students needing to recover their possessions, and has asked those who need help to make contact.

National media have reported that many UK students could face legal action over rent bills from private landlords for accommodation in the summer term, even though their courses were suspended before the end of the spring term.

Fresh Student Living, one of the larger providers, said that it could not guarantee that some of its 18,000 tenants would be released from their contracts. This depended on whether the owners of buildings were prepared to offer contract breaks or deferred payments, the company said.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Government of Jersey is working on collating information on a variety of support measures for university students, ranging from financial support to repatriation of belongings. Once this information has been updated, it will be published.’

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