“I am pleased to announce the latest set of recommendations, approved by the Competent Authorities Ministers to help overseas students travel back to Jersey to be with their families for the festive period.
It is a priority for the Government of Jersey, which has pledged to put children and young people first, to do all it can to ensure students at overseas Universities can return for Christmas should they wish to do so - while being ever-mindful of the need to protect the health of all Islanders.
There are around 1,700 Jersey students in overseas Universities. Early findings, derived from the responses to our initial student survey, suggest that at least 700 of those students, who responded to the survey, intend to travel home for the festive period.
At my (the Assistant Minister for Education’s) behest, officials have been working on a number of key issues to facilitate the return of students who need assistance and yesterday Competent Authority Ministers agreed three key enabling sets of actions.
Yesterday evening, the Competent Authorities Ministers agreed with a recommendation of a revised policy on testing that will be as effective as the current one, while slightly reducing the self-isolation period. Further details on this policy will be announced next week.
This will support their mental and physical health, provide reassurance for family members, and not result in any student or their family having to endure living in cramped or isolated conditions as they separate from their families for any longer than is medically necessary.
Secondly, there was agreement to put in place contingency plans in respect of possible extra flights and the provision of self-isolation accommodation. Both plans take into account the publication of new guidance by the UK Government in respect of student travel from English Universities once the lockdown in England ends on the 2 December. The guidance describes a "student travel window" which will be in place from Thursday 3 to Wednesday 9 December (inclusive).
We are continuing to analyse our student survey and work with Blue Islands on connectivity plans, which will be based on demand identified through this survey. The lifeline contract with Blue Islands, arranged by government earlier this year, remains in place, which will ensure we retain air links if commercial air travel is not viable for a period.
A dedicated Travel Cell has been established to monitor Jersey’s connectivity and advise Ministers as or when any such additional capacity is needed.
The Competent Authorities Ministers also supported a recommendation to make available self-isolation accommodation for students who cannot undertake this in the family home. Students will need to meet a set of eligibility criteria, which are under development, and a small team from the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills will be mobilised to support this process and to ensure both the welfare of isolating students and their compliance with self-isolation guidance.
Demand will be assessed through the student surveys and the contract with the provider will allow for the numbers of units required to be flexed up and down, dependent upon the level of service needed.
The Department will continue to assist Higher Education students generally through its Student Finance Service.
Following on from the UK announcements yesterday and Jersey’s planned response we will be contacting students next week to gather further information through a survey to enable us to confirm both travel and arrival arrangements in Jersey. Students will have one week to complete this survey.
And finally, we would urge all overseas students to check with their Universities if they can leave early and when they can return by and to register their details with Student Finance Jersey.”