Extortionate fines, a student-specific lockdown and now this: a travel window from the 3 to 9 December. This is the newest plan in a long line of bad ideas stemming from the government on how to tackle the nation’s biggest problem: students.
Essentially, this is a travel period dedicated to the safe movement of about one million students from their universities to home in order to spend the festive season with their families. However, like many of the government’s other plans, this seems badly thought through and rushed, a rash decision to “satisfy” the student population.
Once again, this one-size-fits-all notion that every student is from the exact same background and circumstances has ruled the government’s judgement. It is just not possible for most students to just up and leave. University is not our whole lives and many of us have obligations and commitments outside of it in our university cities.
A large majority of us are unable to go home when the government sees fit. Many students have jobs, myself included, that we rely on to support ourselves throughout university. Suddenly leaving on a week’s notice to abide by the travel window only perpetuates the stereotypes that students are unreliable and flaky.
Students rely on jobs for basic income, to pay rent and sometimes even to support tuition fees. Rendering us unable to work in the lead up to Christmas displays this elitist mindset with which the government looks upon students. Throughout this pandemic students have been targeted, first with fines and then with lockdowns. Surely the government can do better.
Say we lived in an ideal world where jobs didn’t matter and students were able to go home whenever the government wanted us to, how would this even work? How does the government propose to get around a million students all travelling home safely without a resultant strain on public transportation?
And this doesn’t even include international students who are faced with the even harder task of travelling internationally with pretty much no support from the government.
Not only is this plan nonsensical, it is dangerous. At the best of times there is massive amounts of pressure on public transport. Stuffing a million students onto a limited number of trains and buses and carting them to dozens of different places around the UK is not going to do much in the way of social distancing – the government’s go-to mantra since March.
Of course, most students will receive tests before we go home, but there seems to be no regard for the fact that these tests only determine whether or not you had Covid-19 at the time of the test. There is still potential to catch the virus in-between having the test and arriving home.
On top of this, there is the inevitability of us eventually having to return to university in the new year. There is little hope for the success of this travel window, and I only hope there doesn’t have to be another wave of infection for the government to realise that it won’t work.
Image: MichaelGaida from Pixabay