All students will be able to return to university after Christmas for the first time since classes were moved online.

Returns will be staggered over a five week period but students will all be offered Covid-19 tests before heading back to campuses, including those in Liverpool.

The Department for Education made the announcement on Wednesday and set out how student returns should be managed.

The return of students will start on January 4 until January 18 when medical students and those on placements or practical courses with a need for in-person teaching should return in line with their planned start dates.

The remaining courses should be offered online from the beginning of term so students can continue their studies from home.

From January 25, all other students should start to return gradually over a two-week period, and by February 7 all students are expected to have returned.

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Coroanvirus test will help identify and isolate those who are asymptomatic but could spread the virus.

All universities will be offered testing facilities to give students two lateral flow tests, three days apart, with results turned around within an hour to help control the spread of the virus.

The Government has also announced a one-off fund of up to £20 million to help students most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said: “The health and wellbeing of students, staff and local communities across Liverpool are at the heart of our plans, which is why we are providing mass testing for students and recommending a staggered return to campus.

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“These measures will ensure students can help protect themselves and residents in Liverpool to keep as safe as possible.”

Students are being asked not to travel to their term-time accommodation until face-to-face courses are scheduled to resume.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We must use every tool at our disposal to stop the spread of the virus and help reduce the risks around students travelling back home this Christmas.

"Using new technology and the additional capacity we have built, we are now able to extend our testing offer to help manage this risk, by identifying those showing no symptoms who can infect people unknowingly and stop them from passing the virus on to others as they move around the country.

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“I encourage all students to play their part in bringing this virus under control by getting tested twice, and by following the restrictions in place when travelling to and from University this term.”

Universities should continue to provide additional support to students who are isolating to ensure they can access food and medical supplies if needed, along with mental health support.

Where available, students who have spent the winter break in Tier 3 areas where mass community testing is on offer should take a test before travelling back to university if possible.

Along with developments in mass testing using new rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests and other advances in medical technologies and protective measures, this should allow for a more normal spring term and a better experience for students and staff.