Wednesday, 21 Oct 2020

Coronavirus: Here are the universities with COVID-19 as more than 500 cases confirmed

At least 32 universities in the UK now have confirmed coronavirus cases, and another one has suspected cases.

More than 510 cases have been identified among students and staff since universities reopened, according to data collected by Sky News up to 25 September.

The University of Glasgow has been worst affected, with 124 confirmed cases and 600 students self-isolating.

NHS Lothian confirmed that 120 students have tested positive at Edinburgh Napier University, with another five or more at Queen Margaret University and the University of Edinburgh combined.

Another suspected COVID-19 outbreak at Parker House in Dundee led to the quarantine of its 500 student residents from Abertay University and Dundee University.

Three of those students have tested positive so far.

At the University of Liverpool, the tally of COVID-19 cases has risen from 87 last week to 108, according to the University and College Union (UCU).

In most of the affected universities, the proportion of students testing positive was a small part of the overall population.

The UCU warned the outbreaks seen predominantly in Scotland could be a preview of what will happen across the UK if measures to limit the spread of coronavirus are not taken.

The university term starts earlier in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

UCU’s Scotland official Mary Senior said staff at the University of Edinburgh and the University of St Andrews – which have confirmed cases – have been pressured to offer a “substantial amount” of teaching hours in person.

“This is a real mess,” she told Sky News. “The Scottish government should have had much clearer guidelines, with remote learning as the default position.”

James Yucel, a student at the University of Glasgow, implored the UK government not to move courses online after students have already moved to be near campuses.

He has spent thousands on living expenses since he moved to Glasgow, expecting his course to be partly based on campus.

He and other students are campaigning for a 15% reduction in their tuition fees amid a “mass exodus” of students leaving.

He told Sky News: “I wish I was told before I put a £1,500 deposit with my flatmates on a property, before we spent three months living there, before we spent most of our student loans on living fees – it seems like an incredible display of incompetence.”

The National Union of Students said the government was “gambling with students’ lives” by encouraging them to return to university campuses, where the virus can spread quickly in student halls.

The suggestion by a UK government scientific adviser that students may have to remain on campus over Christmas if there are COVID-19 outbreaks, was described as “absolutely shameful” by Larissa Kennedy, the union’s president.

“Students are being trapped – often in shoebox housing, where they’re sometimes sharing bathrooms and kitchens with 15 other people,” she told Sky News. “This is just not feasible.

“We need a plan for the safe exit of students who have the right to leave.”

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