Bucks New University’s Vice Chancellor has urged the UK government to allow all students to return - arguing they have been “left in limbo”.

Professor Nick Braisby has criticised the government for leaving thousands of students without a clear return date to university following the latest roadmap announcement this week.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for stage two of his government’s roadmap, allowing all shops, hairdressers, gyms, spas, and theme parks to reopen.

Self-catering accommodation is also be allowed to reopen - but there was no mention of when university students could resume their studies in Covid-safe university facilities.

Professor Braisby said: “I am incredibly proud of the patience and perseverance of our university’s students, whose studies and lives have now been disrupted for more than a year.

“Since the start of the pandemic, university students have suffered considerable disruption, with a change to online learning, reduced employment opportunities, and restrictions on movement.

"We have seen increased levels of financial hardship and rising concern around mental health. At a critical time in the academic year, they are now being forgotten and left in limbo with no return date in sight.

“This vital issue of students returning to university has been kicked into the long grass seemingly without any consideration of the ongoing negative impact this is having on their studies and mental health.

"I strongly urge the UK government to allow all students to return from 12 April and make this announcement as soon as possible.”

Bucks New University has campuses in High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Uxbridge, so Professor Braisby has written to Wycombe MP Steve Baker, Aylesbury MP Rob Butler and Mr Johnson, who is Uxbridge's MP as well as Prime Minister, requesting they urgently reconsider the government's position.

Professor Braisby’s intervention follows a letter sent this week by Universities UK (UUK) to the Prime Minister requesting clear and urgent clarification on the UK government’s plans for student returns and what further steps will be taken to support students’ education and wellbeing.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than one in four students (29 per cent) are struggling with loneliness, compared to seven per cent of the adult population in Great Britain.

Student life satisfaction (5.2) also remains significantly lower than the average adult population (6.8).

After Professor Braisby's letter, Mr Baker raised the matter in the House of Commons on Thursday, April 15.

Addressing Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, he said: "Bucks New University in Wycombe will want to be in a position to address the logical inconsistency that has come up several times in the House, which is that students cannot return to university but can go to non-essential retail, including to work in it.

"Is the heart of the matter that students returning to university form new households? Is that what the government are really worried about?"

Ms Donelan responded: "We had to make this decision on balance in relation to all the things that we were relaxing, because everything - even something with the slightest risk - could impact our pathway out of the pandemic.

"My hon. Friend is right: one of our key concerns was the mass movement of students—potentially up to 500,000 additional students—across England and the UK and the formation of new households."