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GSD urges support framework for Gib students ‘in grim times’

A sign in a window at The Forge student accommodation at Sheffield Hallam University which has seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases among its students.

The GSD has called on the Gibraltar Government to put in place a framework of support for Gibraltarian students against the backdrop of increased Covid-19 restrictions in the UK.

There are currently hundreds of Gibraltarian university students undergoing studies and temporarily residing across the UK who will now have to face new and exceptional conditions as England goes into a new national lockdown as from Thursday.

The GSD said there should be a specific Gibraltar Government advice and support hotline, together with a dedicated email address, in order to provide a wide range of financial, physical or mental wellbeing support for any students over the coming weeks and months.

“It would go a long way if the Department of Education could offer a dedicated help-line so that students and/or their parents may obtain prompt advice and support in respect of their specific personal needs,” said Edwin Reyes, the Shadow Education Minister.

“This is not just about travel advice or becoming aware of the restrictions around you.”

“The need to support our students goes much deeper than that as some may be feeling the effects of isolation or anxiety during lockdown.”

“Gibraltar has always prided itself upon the successes of our students and therefore, more so in these grim days, we should ensure that our students are offered advice and support in what are ever changing circumstances.”

“This academic year has already brought additional and exceptional hardship upon Gibraltar’s students enrolled for higher studies in UK universities.”

“Many of them, suffered delays in receipt of their grants due from the Department of Education.”

“They returned to their chosen universities based upon advice issued at the time as there was still some in person teaching.”

“During the month of September most universities were updating their policy on a week by week basis and students could not be guaranteed that they would not miss out on seminars and/or lectures if they remained in Gibraltar.”

“The vast majority will now wish to return home for the Christmas period.”

“The uncertainty of availability of flights from popular UK airports to Gibraltar has also given rise to some stress being endured by students and their respective families.”

“The layering on of a new lockdown in a large part of the UK will only add to that sense of isolation and anxiety in many cases.”