More than 1,000 students at Newcastle University have tested positive for COVID over the past week
Written by on 8 October 2020
More than 1,000 Newcastle University students have tested positive for coronavirus over the past week.
Twelve members among its 6,500 employees have also had a positive COVID-19 result.
A spokeswoman said “the overwhelming majority of cases” were from “social and residential settings”.
It comes on top of the 770 positive tests among students at neighbouring Northumbria University announced on Friday.
Both universities have said they will be switching to online teaching for at least three weeks, unless in-person lessons are essential.
The spokeswoman added: “We expected to see cases rise in light of the increase in cases both locally and nationally and all HE institutions have to manage this on an ongoing basis.
“We feel confident that we have appropriate measures in place to protect us all while we are on campus and to reduce the potential for transmission in our community.”
One lecturer, who asked not to be named, said: “I feel heartily sorry for the students.
“They’ve essentially had no choice but to come to university, and sit in their rented accommodation, often rented from the university, and stew.
“I suspect not all but many are getting nothing, and probably less, out of their uni experience than they would in the relative safety of their homes.”
The lecturer said it was “sheer lunacy” to bring students back, and that “a lot of staff are angry about it”.
Meanwhile, Leeds University said 555 students and three staff members have tested positive between 28 September and 4 October.
Professor Simone Buitendijk, vice chancellor, said: “We are acutely aware that behind each number is an individual with their own needs and concerns, and ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of everyone is our absolute priority.”
Manchester’s two main universities – Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University – have also suspended all in-person teaching for the rest of October.
A few courses that rely on practical training will be exempted.
In a joint statement, the universities told the Manchester Evening News they met with public health authorities and Manchester City Council following a “significant increase in the number of COVID cases across the city of Manchester”.
The University of Nottingham is running its own testing programme on its campuses, and puts its high number of cases down to that scheme.
It said 106 students in university halls had tested positive, with 93 in other purpose built accommodation. Some 226 students living in private accommodation have contracted the virus, while eight staff members are also included in the data.