No date yet for when University of Wolverhampton will reopen

Leaders at the University of Wolverhampton will monitor Government guidance before deciding when to fully reopen to students.

University vice chancellor Geoff Layer
University vice chancellor Geoff Layer

Some schools are expected to begin opening from June 1 but university vice chancellor Geoff Layer said there was no date yet for when his students would return.

He said it was likely some areas, such as research labs, would return soon but that leaders would look to the Government for guidance on when to open up fully.

Mr Layer said the coronavirus crisis meant it remained an uncertain time for the university, which has campuses in the city centre, as well as in Bilston and Telford.

Applications from UK students have risen by two per cent. There has also been an increase in interest from international students but with current restrictions on travel it is unclear when some will be able to get here.

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Mr Layer said: "We will be looking at a gradual return to certain buildings being open and we will develop a plan which prioritises which parts can open first. It won't be 'we're all back', it will not be that.

"Certain areas, like research laboratories, are likely to be opened first. It will all be looked at in the context of staff and student wellbeing. Can we manage it, how will we manage social distancing? Social distancing has to be part of what we do, so I'd imagine we would be opening selected spaces over a period of time."

The vice chancellor said the university would have a clearer idea about student numbers for 2020/21 by next month.

He said: "There's been tremendous uncertainty in the schools over what's going to happen, with A-levels and things like that.

"What we know is our applications have risen from within the UK are up by two percentage points but our applications from international students are massively up. The problem is can they get here? More students are sitting waiting because it's uncertain."

Mr Layer said the university had been able to ride out the crisis without suffering a large hit to its finances so far.

He added: "We are financially stable in the normal course of events. If there is a significant shift in student recruitment, a second spike, international students not being able to get here, then we can foresee difficulties.

"The next year, which is an unprecedented year for us, is going to be very difficult for the university, because of the uncertainty, particularly over how we can manage the students.

"We are expecting a decline in international students because they can't get here."

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