Coronavirus: 200 people filmed partying in student halls as universities warn of expulsions for rule-breaking

Andy Gregory
·4-min read
 (Twitter screengrab)
(Twitter screengrab)

Around 200 people have been filmed partying in student accommodation - as some universities warned those caught in serious breach of coronavirus rules could face expulsion.

Police said they attended a large gathering at Coventry University halls in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Footage showed scores of people in a common room at Arundel House, close to the university’s main campus, singing as a handful danced on a ping pong table at the centre of the packed crowd.

After a summer of exam results chaos and uncertainty over how universities would operate during the pandemic, students have now found themselves at risk of being locked down in their new accommodation.

In events dubbed “completely avoidable” by the University and College Union, outbreaks quickly began to emerge as students moved into accommodation, resulting in thousands of students being forced to self-isolate.

Students at some English universities have now been threatened with expulsion if they flout restrictions, The Independent revealed on Tuesday, with Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Newcastle, and University of Surrey among those warning extreme breaches could see students’ education terminated.

In a statement, Coventry University said it would take “appropriate action” against students caught breaching rules, but did not clarify further.

“We are deeply concerned by the scenes in the video and strongly condemn the blatant breaches of the rule of six and other guidelines as they risk the health of our students, colleagues and the communities in which we are located," a spokesperson said.

“We have introduced a code of conduct for students and shared this widely with them ahead of the weekend. This code of conduct makes it clear that a failure to follow university and government health, safety and wellbeing requirements will constitute a breach of the university’s disciplinary regulations and may be dealt with as a matter of misconduct.

“If any of those involved in the video are found to be students of Coventry University and in breach of the code of conduct, we will take appropriate action.”

Coventry police said they were examining CCTV and would take action if evidence showed the party had been a planned event.

The accommodation’s management have agreed to close some communal areas and increase security, police said, adding that a stall with safety information would be set up in the building to “reiterate Covid-19 regulations and the consequences should those regulations be flouted”.

Shown the footage and asked whether it was “the inevitable consequence of locking down hundreds of young people”, business secretary Alok Sharma told BBC Breakfast: "This has been actually a very, very difficult time for young people and actually, they want to get back to some sense of normality, we can't just sort of lock people down forever.

“Universities are open, students have gone back, and of course we ask them, just as we ask the rest of the population, to follow the rules, follow the guidance, and act responsibly, and ultimately this is for their own good, and I hope people will do that.”

A Coventry University spokesperson added: “The vast majority of our students are sensible adults and are taking coronavirus very seriously.

"Many of them are from the communities in which our campuses are based and want to protect themselves, their friends and loved ones. Hundreds of our students on health courses worked in NHS wards and ambulances during the peak of the pandemic.

“Across our five campuses, we have put in place safety measures in line with government advice and we are in constant dialogue with local public health officials and other agencies and universities.

"We are regularly messaging our colleagues and students to reinforce the importance of following all the rules and laws designed to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and we have student ambassadors in key places on campus to remind those who forget to comply with social distancing or face coverings.

“We are also actively encouraging the use of the NHS Covid-19 app to assist our existing track and trace process.”

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