As Oxford University confirms a second student had tested positive for coronavirus, the Office for Students (OfS) has written to vice-chancellors appealing for information about the spread of the virus.
The notice asks for information on suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus at every OfS-regulated higher education provider.
The watchdog has also urged university chiefs to confirm what steps are being taken “in relation to any confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19”.
We are requesting this information to monitor and understand how COVID-19 may be affecting students
– Susan Lapworth, Office for Students
The regulator already expects universities to report extraordinary events. The letter states universities should use usual lines of communication if it must halt transnational educational activities, but asks university leaders to use the new Covid-19 reporting channels on the OfS website if they take the extraordinary step of closing a whole campus.
Universities will still be expected to report to Public Health England.
Susan Lapworth, director of competition and registration, said: “We are requesting this information to monitor and understand how Covid-19 may be affecting students as well as universities and other higher education providers.
“We are seeking to understand the actions universities and other higher education providers are taking in response to the virus, and how this might affect their ability to continue to deliver higher education and comply with their conditions of registration with the OfS.”
The letter asks universities to notify the Office for Students of any suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases within one working day. It also calls on universities to report if it changes how it is handling cases.