Universities and Operation Red Meat

Michael Abberton
4 min readJan 23, 2022

Students and staff health and wellbeing put at risk in the latest attempt to protect Boris Johnson from his own party

As more and more allegations of corruption, hypocrisy, criminality and now racism are made against the Johnson regime and the top of the Tory party, the Prime Minister will do literally anything to remain in power. Jeopardising public health to assuage the Tory right wing seems like a small step. Now the health and well being of school children, school teacher, students and university teaching staff is being sacrificed to save ‘Big Dog’.

This week to divert from yet another disastrous Prime Minster’s Questions — in which there was a staged defection to the Labour benches and a Tory grandee demanded, ‘In the name of God, go!’ — Johnson announced an end to mask wearing and other infection control measures to be scrapped, beginning with masks in schools. This despite the latest report from Independent Sage showing that the cases amongst children — largely unvaccinated — are continuing to rise with hospitalisations for children with Omicron more than double the numbers for the previous three variants, with absence due to Covid for pupils and teachers again at the highest level recorded to date. It’s no wonder then that school heads across the country have refused to comply with this government guidance and are continuing to require masks in class.

This last Friday (21 January) Operation Red Meat shifted to higher education. An updated covid guidance document was released, coinciding with the universities minister, Michelle Donelan and the right-wing quango Office for Students encouraging students to demand refunds of tuition fees if they don’t receive the service they have paid for. “We’ve got to get back to pre-pandemic life,” said Donelan. “Risk assessments can’t be used as an excuse not to host face-to-face teaching. Students have been leading the way in the [vaccination] stats.”

The new Higher Education Operational Guidance largely remains largely the same as previous documents except in a couple of places, where it echoes the minister’s words almost precisely, like here:

“With the removal of the Plan B measures, HE providers should note that there are no COVID restrictions that apply to Higher Education and they should ensure that they deliver

Michael Abberton

Tomahawk thrower, writer, trade unionist, Japanese speaker and all around good guy.