University of York students have been told that they are expected to do all they can to return to University next week for exams, regardless of the dangerous weather conditions.
Counties across Britain have seen an unprecedented level of snow fall over the past week. Ensuing weather conditions have caused the country to come to a virtual standstill, with North Yorkshire being one of the first and worst affected areas.
YUSU Academic Officer, Charlie Leyland, said: “The University has no standardised mitigating circumstances policy as yet, something YUSU has been lobbying them for over the past year, and the consultation is now in it’s final stage and ready to be implemented from September onwards.
“Many academic departments have left students uninformed about the urgency at which they should return to York, despite Spring Term beginning soon.”
An email sent out by the Department of Mathematics said that it expects “all students to make every reasonable effort to attend the exams as normal next week… You are reminded that you will not normally be admitted to the exam hall more than half an hour after the start of the examination and that no extra time will be allowed for lateness.”
The email added: “Obviously we do not want students to travel if this is foolhardy. However if the travel advice is ‘travel only if your journey is essential’ then we consider that getting to an exam counts as an ‘essential journey’.”
The Met Office have announced this week that severe icy conditions are set to follow the heavy snow in the next few days, making driving a great risk that should be avoided.
An AA spokesman said: “Drivers should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the break in the heavy snow – ice is far more dangerous to drive on than snow.”
In addition to the risk ice and snow poses to motorists, BBC News has reported today that train companies across Britain have cancelled numerous non-commuting services, with First TransPennine Express reporting many delays, especially at Northallerton and North Yorkshire. County councils across the U.K. have announced that they are limiting grit to major roads, as salt supplies continue to be in shortage.
International students travelling from overseas are also likely to experience delays and cancellations over the next week as they attempt to make their way back to York. All major airports are operating but passengers have been warned to expect delays, while a number of transatlantic Virgin flights have been cancelled.
University Press Officer David Garner told Nouse: “The University is open and running as normal. Term starts on Monday 11 January and we are expecting all students to return by then.
“We recognise that travel problems persist as a result of the adverse weather. Students should follow police and travel organisations’ advice. If students cannot return by the beginning of term because of weather or travel restrictions, they should let us know. We recommend that students allow extra time for travelling in order to arrive by the beginning of term.”
A Press Release posted on the University website said: “While we expect students to make every reasonable effort to return to University by the start of term on 11 January, your safety is paramount and if you have reason to believe this will be put at risk you should not travel.”
York is expected to see even more snow fall over the weekend, after days of problems tackling the icy conditions. Motorist Brian Lakin skidded on the ice to find himself in the path of an oncoming train in York, only closely avoiding a collision with the First TransPennine Express service from Hull to Manchester, whilst two people were taken to hospital following a head-on crash on the outskirts of York yesterday.
The Met Office are currently still advising people to “avoid travel if possible”.
Leyland added: “My advice to students affected, whether because they can’t get out of their drive, their flight has been cancelled, their children’s school has closed and they have no childcare arranged, is to collect as much evidence as possible and let the department know as soon as possible that you are unable to attend.”