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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Students face freshers’ week with no wild parties and no sex

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Universities in the UK will ban parties and overnight stays for students from September as part of their strict social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.   

Students who live in households, or ‘bubbles’, will no longer be allowed to mix with their peers from other households and could face ‘disciplinary action’ if they breach the public health measures 

The new move comes just a month after the University of Buckingham’s Sir Anthony Seldon described Covid-19 as the ‘biggest crisis that the university sector has faced’ and ‘the biggest crisis ever in the history of universities’.    

As hundreds of students gear up for the highly-anticipated freshers week, this week the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol announced that ‘unacceptable behaviour’ could lead to students being issued with fines. 

Students will being barred from attending parties and having overnight guests from the start next academic year. (Stock image)

Students will being barred from attending parties and having overnight guests from the start next academic year. (Stock image) 

A spokesperson for the university told The Sunday Times: ‘Given the seriousness of the threat posed by Covid-19, we are committed to taking disciplinary action against any student found to be in breach of the rules, or behaving in ways that [are not] mindful of our university and city communities. Unacceptable behaviour may lead to fines being issued.’

Meanwhile the University of East Anglia confirmed it too had taken the decision to ban ‘overnight guests’ from outside the student household as the crisis continued to grapple the nation. 

Students at University College London and Cambridge have also been banned from having parties or inviting people to stay overnight. 

Following the announcements, Nick Hillman, director of the think tank, the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the move would pose a challenge for students looking to meet new people but universities were doing the ‘right thing’.

He told The Sunday Times ‘This will clearly make having close student friendships and intimate relationships difficult. 

‘Universities are doing the right thing [but] I do hope it will be temporary. Certainly the experience of freshers’ week will be very different.’

This week, Oxford University made it compulsory for students to wear a face covering in any shared indoor space, including the students’ union and any libraries, unless they had a medical exemption. 

Students who live in households, or 'bubbles', will no longer be allowed to mix with their peers from other households. (Stock image)

Students who live in households, or ‘bubbles’, will no longer be allowed to mix with their peers from other households. (Stock image)

In a statement the university said: ‘Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all staff and students is paramount, which is why we will bring in a range of measures to protect you when you are in University and College buildings.

‘Face coverings will be required during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces with exceptions being made for those students and staff with health conditions which mean they can’t wear them.’ 

The university will also install Perspex screens in labs, and have a special ‘seat-finder’ app to secure distanced spots in libraries.

They will also be installing two private testing for students and staff- one in central Oxford and the other in Headington.

In June, the University of Cambridge confirmed all ‘face-to-face lectures’ would be moved online during the 2020-21 academic year to ensure social distancing can continue amid the pandemic. 

In June, the University of Buckingham's Sir Anthony Seldon described Covid-19 as the 'biggest crisis that the university sector has faced'

In June, the University of Buckingham’s Sir Anthony Seldon described Covid-19 as the ‘biggest crisis that the university sector has faced’

A number of universities across the UK are also planning to offer a blended learning approach – with a mix of online lessons and face-to-face teaching – when they reopen campuses to students in the autumn.

Earlier this year, the University of Buckingham’s Sir Anthony Seldon described Covid-19 as the ‘biggest crisis that the university sector has faced’.

The Vice Chancellor told the i paper that the crisis has led to an ‘unprecedented disruption to the pattern of university life’ and a drop in international students. 

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