Coronavirus: University scramble, M&S job cuts and student stories

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak this Tuesday morning. We'll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.

1. Exams row latest

Tens of thousands of students who were unable to take exams due to the pandemic are facing a scramble for university places after ministers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland performed a U-turn on A level grades. About 40% of A-level results were downgraded by an algorithm, with bright children from schools in disadvantaged areas penalised most of all. Universities are now considering how to meet their obligations to pupils who originally missed out on their first choice. We're answering your questions on what happens next.

2. Second role for testing chief

The government's new Health Protection Institute launches today, with Baroness Dido Harding - who's in charge of England's test and trace system - its interim boss. The institute will take on some of Public Health England's responsibilities. Ministers have reportedly been unhappy with the way PHE has responded to the pandemic, but its defenders say it is being made a scapegoat. Campaign group Covid Bereaved Families for Justice is calling for an urgent inquiry into the handling of the crisis.

Media caption,

Bereaved relatives call for inquiry: "It wasn't good enough for our loved ones"

3. More job losses on the high street

Marks and Spencer is to cut 7,000 jobs after a slump in sales during the pandemic. The posts will go at M&S shops across the UK, as well as among staff in regional management and at the company's central support centre. It said it was clear there had a been a "material shift in trade" away from in-store sales and towards online and home delivery.

Image source, Ian Forsyth

4. Migrants living in poverty

Thousands of migrants in the UK say they're facing destitution after being left without financial support during the pandemic. Many work in casual or low paid roles and saw their jobs disappear or incomes slashed. However, they have no welfare safety net to fall back on because of a controversial immigration policy which means they cannot access benefits.

Image caption,
Khalsa Aid delivers food parcels to migrants who need them

5. The students who stepped up in 2020

Thousands of medical and healthcare students were fast-tracked from the classroom to the NHS front line to help deal with the pandemic. BBC Wales health correspondent Owain Clarke has spoken to three of them about the challenges they faced - but also, as junior doctor Eli Wyatt put it, the "privilege" she felt at being able to get involved. Another student, Jodie Gornall, said she wouldn't hesitate to step back into her scrubs this winter if needed.

Image source, Nick Mason
Image caption,
Student nurse Ffion Wilkins was placed in one of the UK's worst-affected areas

And don't forget...

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page and get all the latest via our live page.

Plus, find out why the UK's largest auction house network is experiencing its busiest period in more than five decades.

Image source, BBC

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