Kate, in a colourful mask, heard that the University of Derby has only a small number with the virus. But it is one of more than 50 higher education institutions in the UK battling outbreaks in undergraduate halls of residence and private flats. At least 4,000 students have been diagnosed with the virus and many more are self-isolating in an attempt to stop the spread.
The Duchess, in a £249 checked coat and £49.95 jersey both by the Spanish firm Massimo Dutti, discussed how the students have coped with the pandemic.
Husna Hanif and Laura Oliver, both 18, told her they had “kept busy” but it was “hard not seeing friends”.
She asked if there was enough backing at the university, to which Ms Oliver replied: “There’s so much support.”
Kate, 38, said: “That’s great to hear.”
She was also told how Student Minds, a mental health charity, has created Student Space, a resource to support undergraduates with information and a text message helpline.
The round-the-clock service provides help from a trained volunteer and is delivered in partnership with Shout, an initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation Heads Together mental health campaign.
Kate heard how first-year students have been buddied up with second years to provide peer support.
Rosie Tressler, from Student Minds, said: “This has been the most unusual and challenging start to university life that any students have had in recent times.”