Students stuck in self-isolation at Manchester Metropolitan University will be given financial compensation of more than a week’s rent, its vice-chancellor has said.
Professor Malcolm Press said “a significant amount of money” would be given, on top of a care package that includes “basic food”, to ensure students felt “protected and cared for”.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It will be a package that I think students will appreciate, that allows them to rest assured, while they’re in this situation, they don’t have any particular financial worries as a consequence.”
Prof Press said details were being discussed with students, but added that “a financial package means hard cash”, with it representing “more than an actual week’s rent”.
“Students will be receiving financial compensation to ensure that they feel protected and cared for during this period of self-isolation,” he said.
His comments came after Glasgow University said it will refund all students in halls of residence one month’s rent, along with a £50 payment for food, amid an outbreak of coronavirus cases there.
Over the weekend fears were raised among a number of students at Manchester Metropolitan University that they were being falsely imprisoned in their accommodation, with human rights lawyers questioning the legality of security staff enforcing a 14-day isolation period.
Students described being scared and confused as their accommodation was locked down on Friday, after 127 people tested positive for coronavirus.
They were later told the decision, made in conjunction with Public Health England and Manchester City Council, was “deemed necessary” to prevent the spread of the virus to other students, staff or the community.
But Prof Press told Sky News on Monday: “We were asked to ensure (students) would self-isolate because there had been an outbreak of Covid into halls of residence.
“We’re advising students on the rules, what they should do, we’re supporting them, but the idea that they’re not able to leave is just not true I’m afraid.
“Students are free to go should they wish to and a small number of students have gone home in a Covid-secure way.”
STUDENT UPDATE: If you are self-isolating in Birley & Cambridge Halls, please check your inbox for an important email. It contains clarification around some issues that we know matter to you, as well as an update on the development of a care package.
— Manchester Metropolitan Uni (@ManMetUni) September 27, 2020
Prof Press also said there had been some “miscommunication” within the university over students being asked to remove posters.
“We’ve retracted that information, students are very free to put posters up and we obviously value freedom of speech, and it’s just regretful that there was a message sent out in error,” he said.
Meanwhile supermarket chain Morrisons has announced a “Serve our Students” food box delivery service to support those self-isolating in halls of residence.
Launching at Manchester Metropolitan University before expanding to other institutions, the service will allow students to order from a selection of boxes on Monday for delivery by early evening on Tuesday.