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Dark days

The government has turned its back on universities at a critical time

This has surely been the toughest start to an academic term the UK’s university sector has faced in living memory. As universities grapple with a surge in Covid-19 cases, students have been hit hardest. More than 2,000 of them have been living in self-isolation to stem outbreaks which, despite universities’ best efforts to prepare campuses over the summer, were all-too predictable.

But universities are under intense pressure that is only going to increase as the fallout from the outbreaks grows. As we report in this week’s cover story, rising anger among students is fuelling demand for tuition fee refunds. With the government conspicuously failing to provide a level of support equal to the unfolding crisis, this raises the prospect of a financial hit that universities—and the research cross-subsidised by those fees—will struggle to cope with.

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