Students in Manchester hold ‘Covid Positive’ parties where only people with the infection get in as Exeter University kicks out ‘small handful’ who broke coronavirus rules
- Three of the country’s largest universities are now shifting to online classes
- Institutions are stepping up attempts to curb rising infection rates on campuses
- But some students are hosting ‘Covid positive’ parties in their halls of residence
University students are throwing ‘Covid positive’ parties as they desperately try to salvage their social lives amid draconian lockdown measures on campuses.
Freshers at the University of Manchester and Northumbria University say undergraduates confined to their halls of residence are throwing 24-hour parties as they remain under stringent restrictions.
This comes as universities started cancelling face-to-face teaching entirely yesterday as they stepped up attempts to curb rising infection rates on campuses.
The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University – which have around 73,000 students between them – said teaching would be online-only until at least November.
The University of Sheffield, which has nearly 30,000 students, followed suit last night as it announced in-person learning would be suspended from Friday until at least October 19.
Today, the University of Exeter confirmed a number of students had been sent home for breaching Covid guidelines.
Deputy vice chancellor Prof Tim Quine said: ‘We never exclude anyone lightly, it is always with regret.’
Undergraduates confined to their halls of residence are throwing 24-hour parties as they remain under stringent restrictions
University students are throwing ‘Covid positive’ parties as they try to salvage their social lives
One physics student at the University of Manchester told the Guardian that a party at their Fallowfield campus halls of residence was broken up by security on Saturday.
The 18-year-old told the paper: ‘There was a flat party a few days ago which had a policy that you could only get in if you were positive. It was like their health-and-safety measure.’
Students at the University of Manchester were last week filmed throwing an illegal party
A student from Northumbria University also told the Guardian that parties were still rife in halls.
The move to online learning is a drastic step to stop the spread of coronavirus among the student population.
But they will increase demands for students to receive refunds for tuition fees.
More than 50 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of Covid-19, after thousands of undergraduates returned to campus for the start of the autumn term.
Manchester University, where there have been 382 coronavirus cases since September 21, joined with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Sheffield in announcing a move to online learning to protect the health of students and staff.
The Manchester universities said they had made the decision together in consultation with the area’s director of public health, supported by Public Health England.
They added they would increase the level of online learning for most programmes from Wednesday until October 30, which would be reviewed on October 23, and face-to-face teaching would continue for some clinical or practice-based classes.
The University of Sheffield – where nearly 500 students and staff have tested positive since the start of term – said face-to-face teaching would continue on Wednesday and Thursday before it is suspended from Friday, with in-person classes to resume on October 19.
Manchester University (pictured), where there have been 382 coronavirus cases since September 21, joined with Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Sheffield in announcing a move to online learning to protect the health of students and staff
The move comes amid rising cases across parts of England, with the latest weekly infection figures showing Manchester’s rate has soared, with 3,105 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 3 – the equivalent of 561.6 cases per 100,000 people.
The University and College Union (UCU) has welcomed the move by the Manchester universities but said virus outbreaks could have been prevented had the decision been made earlier.
Meanwhile, staff at the coronavirus-hit Northumbria University have called on vice-chancellor Andrew Wathey to resign as UCU members agreed to ballot for industrial action over health and safety concerns.
The university announced on Friday that 770 students had tested positive to Covid-19, including 78 who were symptomatic, with those testing positive now self-isolating in their accommodation.
Newcastle is among the worst affected cities in the UK, with its council leader Nick Forbes joining the leaders of Leeds and Manchester to write to the Health Secretary on Tuesday calling for new national restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
Earlier, the universities minister said students could call a new helpline if they had concerns about coronavirus.
Michelle Donelan announced the Department for Education (DfE) is launching a hotline this week – in conjunction with Public Health England (PHE) – dedicated to university staff and students.
The minister said it would be ‘unacceptable’ for students to pay high tuition fees if an institution failed to provide support or high quality provision.
Ms Donelan added universities had the power to lower tuition fees if they did not believe they were providing a quality learning experience.
The universities minister said the DfE was working with institutions to bring forward the end of term to ensure students who needed to quarantine could still return safely to their families in time for Christmas.
Her comments come after education unions met with schools minister Nick Gibb and Ofqual chief Glenys Stacey about the timetable of the 2021 exams.