Assembly Written Question 10206/17-22
Question: To ask the Minister for the Economy what actions she is taking to support university students in Northern Ireland to safely return home over the winter break period.
Answer: In Northern Ireland, there are a number of cross-cutting issues related to student travel to be worked through, involving a variety of Departments. For this reason, the Executive Office has been asked to co-ordinate these plans, and a Task and Finish Group has been established to do so. The various Departments involved are working collectively with other partners to develop and communicate a package of advice and support to help students stay safe, and to travel home safely at Christmas. This includes engaging with the local HE providers to agree a phased end to the semester and the facilitation of a move to online learning. The measures will also involve testing for students; public health authorities are working to agree the operational aspects of a testing programme to inform arrangements for student travel, while the relevant authorities will be engaged to consider the impacts on public transport. In the interim, students should continue to follow the relevant public health advice in terms of travelling, and self-isolating when required.