Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MP has joined with Liberal Democrats in Great Britain to call for a united approach to student testing, to ensure they can safely return to university and college after the Christmas holidays.
In a joint letter to the four Governments of the UK, North Down MP Dr Farry, alongside Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey, Scottish Leader Willie Rennie and Welsh Leader Jane Dodds, called for a uniform approach to student testing ahead of a return to university in January.
Dr Farry said plans should be confirmed before students travel home for the festive period. It comes after growing fears of a repeat of the spike in coronavirus cases seen when students returned in autumn.
"We have been clear there needs to be careful planning around the movement of students home at Christmas and back in the New Year, not least with mass asymptomatic testing to keep people safe,” he said.
“The Governments were right to work together to agree guidance for Christmas, they now must do the same for students returning in the new year,” he added.
Please see below the text of a joint letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Mark Drakeford and to First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.
Thank you for listening to our calls to work together to ensure families split across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the potential to come together for the festive season.
We are now writing to again urge you to work together to agree a four nations approach to student testing, ensuring students can safely return to university and college after the Christmas holidays.
You will remember all too well the conditions students faced in September. Many spent weeks in isolation without enough support and some campuses took the unbelievable decision to put fences around student accommodation.
We cannot afford to make the same mistakes. Thousands upon thousands of students travel between the four home nations to study. The four nations of the UK are so tightly connected this problem is best addressed together.
We urge you to agree to a uniform approach to mass asymptomatic testing to keep students safe, alongside guidance, before students travel home for Christmas. This is needed to help safely plan for their education in the new year.
We look forward to your response.
Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Willie Rennie MSP
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Dr Stephen Farry MP
Deputy Leader of Alliance