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Students 'trapped in lodgings without food'

STUDENTS have been trapped in their lodgings by security guards and are going without food, living in disgusting conditions, the National Union of Students warned today.

At the start of autumn term, thousands of university students have been forced into lockdown and self-isolation for two weeks in their halls of residence.

NUS president Larissa Kennedy said that students nationwide were reporting “security guards outside blocks where students are being kept, stopping people from leaving, coming and going.

“Where students are being discouraged from getting deliveries and told by the university that they’ll deliver food and that delivery has not arrived, they’ve gone for the day without food.”

Some students were even worried “where the next toilet roll is coming from,” Ms Kennedy told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“It just feels like these are disgusting conditions for students to have been trapped in,” she said.

Her accusations came as the union leadership of more than 100,000 university and college lecturers called for the institutions to switch to online teaching.

The University & College Union (UCU) said the government has a duty to “protect students’ education and stop any further damage to community health.”

The union has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for speedy action and to “adopt a clear policy that the majority of teaching should be online.” 

The UCU also called for students to be allowed to return home if they wish without fear of financial penalty for leaving student accommodation.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Given the rapidly changing situation and the increasing Covid outbreaks, now is the time for swift action and to move the majority of universities’ work online.

“We are not prepared to take chances with the health and safety of students, staff or local communities.”

She said that preventing students from returning home “looks even more like a cynical effort to extract accommodation fees and then worry about what to do.”

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students (OfS), the higher-education regulator in England, said it would be “looking very closely” at the quality of education being provided by institutions.

Manchester Metropolitan University said it could not stop students under Covid-19 lockdown leaving their accommodation but that it expected them to follow self-isolation guidance.

Professor Malcolm Press, the university’s vice-chancellor, added that “a significant amount of money” would be given to students, on top of a care package that includes “basic food,” to ensure that they feel “protected and cared for” while they self-isolate.

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