COVID-19: NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY & NOTTINGHM TRENT STUDENTS TO COMMIT TO 'COVID 19 COMMUNITY PLEDGE'
 

Writing in the Nottingham Post (Wednesday 29 July 2020) under the banner headline 'Nottingham universities reveal plans to shut down student parties when term starts' Community Reporter Gurjeet Nanrah reported on plans by Nottingham's universities to use Community Protection officers to clamp down on behaviour, including parties in residential areas, judged to be a public health risk. ...

New guidelines are being drawn up in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Nottingham's universities have said they will look to utilise council community protection officers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the new term this September, including parties in residential areas off-campus.

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and the University of Nottingham contribute a combined £60,000 into community protection officers to patrol communities in which students live, and will seek to use their powers to clamp down on behaviour deemed a public health risk.

The two universities have also said they will have their students commit to a 'Covid-19 Community Pledge' at the University of Nottingham and NTU’s Student Code of Behaviour has been updated, which both set out clear expectations on how they should follow all guidance to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and show respect to their communities.

At both institutions disciplinary processes will now encompass public health protection issues so that if students break their pledge or code of behaviour, they will face disciplinary action, fines and campus sanctions.

Residents of Lenton - an area with a large student population, have reacted to news of community protection officers having their remit widened to include ensuring students respect guidelines.

Nick Hurst, of Lenton Boulevard, 52, who works in property management, said utilising community protection officers in this way is a good idea.

He said: "It will help keep people safe I think. There will inevitably be a few of them who are less considerate of the residents here so something should be done about it.

"It can be quite hard living next door to them all, and I do worry it could all be noisier when they've not got anywhere to go like the clubs.

"Who knows what it will be like [in September], but knowing it will be patrolled is reassuring."

Professor Shearer West, vice-chancellor at the University of Nottingham, said: “We already spend between the two universities something like £60,000 a year on community protection officers and supporting that consideration of how we keep discipline in the community.

“We are looking at how we reinforce that and what those protection officers may be looking for may not just be loud parties, which is one of the things they obviously do look at, but also if there are some real offences to the discipline code in terms of public health.

"We have to think about the students that we don't have immediately under our sites and we can ensure that the students are aware and have signed up to the discipline expectations of how they should behave in a public health pandemic.

"We are still considering how to make their experience fun of course."

The two universities are in agreement that large group activities, including lectures, will take place through digital methods for the foreseeable future, but students will still be able to interact with lecturers, ask questions, contribute to discussions and, with some recorded sessions, look back on what they have learned.

Archie Ecklersley, a 44-year-old business owner who also lives in Lenton, said: "It's something that's good to know is being considered and that hundreds of students won't just arrive back here and be left to their themselves.

"It will be a big change for many of them who are returning so I'm glad that measures have been put in place."

Both universities are already piloting new approaches to Covid-19 testing for students at the University of Nottingham’s Vet School and the Schools of Art & Design and Science and Technology at NTU.

The universities have also already been working closely with Public Health England and local public health officials to develop a 'Local Outbreak Plan' with a strong focus on higher education. 

The Local Resilience Forum and both universities have also established a dedicated task force to support the safe return of students, considering the role they play in the local economy too.

Vice-chancellor Professor Edward Peck at NTU said: "I think people overlook the fact that we have an incredible internal capacity at universities.

"So we can do things quickly and all the moving parts that we need to change and develop to make this a great experience for students, we have direct control over that.

"Things like how we organise our space, our catering and our online learning are all done by people who work for the organisation and are committed to it.

"We are changing our expectations of our students and these are formal, written down expectations. Students will know they've committed to whatever social distancing we have in place. And if they're proven not to do that, there will be consequences in our disciplinary processes." 

Both institutions have also remained open throughout lockdown, teaching more than 100,000 students digitally across the two universities, as they now prepare for the return of our students.

More details are to be announced soon as to how the universities plan to tackle anti-social behaviour that break coronavirus guidelines.

A spokesman for Nottingham City Council, who run the city's community protection scheme, said their powers focus on tackling anti-social behaviour and reporting back to universities. Any enforcement action around social distancing would be led by the police.

Nottingham universities reveal plan to shut down student parties when term starts - Nottinghamshire Live