Government negligent in failing to support university students during Covid

On the eve of hundreds of students travelling to Otago University to begin the academic year it's astounding that the Government is still to provide guidelines to accommodation providers on how to operate under phase 2 of the Omicron response, National's Tertiary Education spokesperson and Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

"Thousands of students from Southland and around the country will converge on Otago University this weekend, with Omicron and the spread of COVID-19 uppermost in everyone's mind.

"Yet while university halls of residence have provided students with information on arrival protocols, to keep themselves safe, the halls say they are still waiting for support and guidance to come through from the Government.

"I think it's astounding that the Government has failed to provide these halls, and the students that will be staying in them, with appropriate and up-to-date support and advice.

"There's a great deal of uncertainty amongst parents and first-time students as they begin university under the cloud of Covid and I think it's appalling that the Government has failed to acknowledge them in this way.

"The Government has had weeks to organise support for university halls and students, providing them with the level of protection that they need in these uncertain times, to keep Covid infection rates at a minimum.

"For the Government to fail to provide any guidance, when we are just days out from what is effectively the busiest time of the university year for thousands of young New Zealanders, is negligent and short-sighted."