Rebecca Day, writing in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday 4 February 2021, reported that Manchester University is warning students that they risk being removed from their accommodation following a 'series of parties in halls'.

'We are like inmates in a prison': University bosses threaten to chuck students out of halls in party clampdown

GMP issued 49 fines to students of up to £800 over the weekend

University of Manchester students risk being thrown out of their accommodation following a 'series of parties in halls', bosses have warned.

One undergraduate complained students are being bombarded with regular emails warning of police and university intervention, making them feel like 'inmates in a prison'.

He condemned the parties but said the emails aren't helpful when there is already an 'us vs them atmosphere'.

Last year, the university found itself in the centre of a furore over the handling of a coronavirus outbreak at student halls. 

At one stage a protest was held in Fallowfield after workmen installed metal fencing and checkpoints around the campus.

Some students held rent strikes while others complained there was a lack of support made available.

Almost 50 fines up to the value of £800 were handed out for parties in University of Manchester halls over the weekend, according to emails sent to students.

In one email, seen by the Manchester Evening News on Wednesday, residence management say: "The University will now commence the disciplinary process with these residents, which may include additional fines and will involve schools being informed of their actions.

"In addition, their place in halls is also being reviewed."

In another email, sent on January 28, the university said 'university discipline for Covid breaches' has already seen fines issued, students suspended from courses, being expelled from courses and having to leave their residence'.

One student, who asked not to be named, said the university have sent out a number of emails warning about the breaches.

The student said the emails are creating an atmosphere of 'distrust' between the students and university bosses.

The student, who asked not to be named, said: "The university is literally treating their students like inmates in a prison - either follow the rules or face severe consequences - them working together to enforce these rules show that.

"By continuing to actively engage the police they continue to create an atmosphere of distrust.

"It is a them vs us atmosphere already.

"Students' mental health is completely disregarded."

He said the almost weekly emails, when many students like him are sticking to the rules, are adding to his anxiety.

"Not because I want to breach restrictions but because of the atmosphere this creates", he said.

"I literally feel more and more like living in a prison. I know at least a handful of other students who were brave enough to speak up about this and feel the same so it is not only me overreacting."

The student said he believes the university could provide more entertainment for students during lockdown.

"There is literally nothing to do", he said.

"Some of the students going to parties are doing so not because they want to spread Covid but because it is an escape of the reality.

"I do not condone this. But the university could easily host events for us students within our households who are in student accommodation and can't do anything.

"Instead they continue to threaten us and leave many with two options: ruined mental health or penalties."

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: "The health and wellbeing of our students is always of the utmost importance to the University.

"We know the overwhelming majority of our students are adhering to the guidelines, and we thank them for their continuing good behaviour and support.

"Unfortunately, however, there is a small minority that continue to breach the Government guidelines, therefore endangering themselves and others.

“We understand these are extremely difficult times, especially for our students, but we have been clear and consistent with our messaging around student conduct and behaviour in halls and residences. Social distancing rules – and all other restrictions must be followed to keep themselves and others safe. We have a range of activities that students can participate in, including our online sports classes from UoM Sport and a range of events from the Students' Union. We have also suggested things to do safely, and most recently, a range of Welcome to Semester 2 activities which were sent to students earlier this week. 

“For those students who need more support we have made a substantial investment in our mental health and wellbeing provision and have set up a dedicated webpage that encompasses all of our services.

"These include a 24 Hour mental health helpline and wellbeing app and in-house University Counselling and Mental Health Service. 

"Our Res Life team in Halls also offer round the clock access to staff who can help students with practical issues and mental health support needs as well as putting on a programme of events to enhance the social experience in halls.”

A GMP spokesperson said: "The vast majority of students have followed the guidelines throughout the course of the pandemic, but unfortunately in a small number of cases, despite the significant engagement work that the Student Safe partnership has undertaken following the engage, explain and encourage approach, we have had no choice but to issue fines to those who have showed a blatant disregard for the regulations.

"We understand that the restrictions have been challenging and disheartening; but it's important we adhere to them in order to reduce infection rates and keep our loved ones and our communities safe."

'We are like inmates in a prison': University bosses threaten to chuck students out of halls in party clampdown - Manchester Evening News