Students fear for Covid in University accommodation

Steve Lumley·31 August 2021·5 min read
Students fear for Covid in University accommodation

Most students in the UK believe that their university accommodation could be better designed to minimise the risk of them catching Covid while on campus, research reveals.

And one university has become the first in the country to ban students who have not received a Covid-19 vaccination from living on their campus.

Both news stories will alarm some student accommodation landlords as they gear up for a busy period with students returning to university.

The findings from Manor Interiors reveals that 78% of students feel their student accommodation could be improved to minimise the risk they may face from catching Covid.

And when asked which aspects of their student accommodation would bring the most concern, students say that space and ventilation are their main worries.

Student accommodation's communal areas

Students say they are also concerned over the lack of sanitisation in their student accommodation's communal areas.

Another major concern from the survey found that students are worried about the volume of students and staff visiting and leaving student digs.

The survey also highlights a lack of automatic doors meaning that students will have to touch door handles regularly.

The firm's chief executive, Farhan Malik, said: "Despite students being the least at risk, it is encouraging to see students considering the threats being posed by Covid when they head to university - and the role they play in minimising the spread."

He added that students will need to adapt to living with Covid because it is 'unlikely to disappear in the near future'.

Mr Malik said: "There's plenty to be done to help minimise Covid risks, and the design of student accommodation is no different, whether that's the redesign of an old building or the delivery of new units."

Space in student accommodation

He said that space in student accommodation is 'usually tight' and there needs to be greater levels of ventilation by using windows that open fully.

However, he points out that student accommodation providers can boost the space available by using bespoke furniture that has been made for a particular area to help reduce student worries.

The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: "Student landlords will undoubtedly need to be aware of the need to protect their student tenants with clean homes and the ability to ventilate properly.

"It's important that students do get vaccinated before going to university and to remain vigilant about catching Covid-19 so they get to enjoy their studies and their new student home."

First university to ban unvaccinated students

Meanwhile, Gloucester’s Hartpury University and College have revealed that it is the first UK university to ban unvaccinated students from moving into its campus.

The University says that it has imposed a 'mandatory requirement' for those living in their halls of residence to prove that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

And from September, all unvaccinated students will be prohibited from taking part in social activities and sports.

The University has now written to parents and students with the vice principal Claire Whitworth stating that the University expects all eligible students to take up their vaccinations 'to help protect them and others'.

However, the mandatory vaccination policy has, according to the Daily Telegraph, led to complaints from students and parents.

One parent says that her daughter's dreams of attending university are 'in tatters'.

She added that the University's stance is ‘inappropriate' and distressing her daughter and family.

Vaccinations are mandatory for students

Hartpury University is following in the footsteps of some US universities that are also making vaccinations mandatory for its students.

Some universities there say they will be fining students every week if they cannot prove they have had a vaccine, while others will prevent access to Wi-Fi.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Universities are autonomous and can determine their own arrangements to keep staff and students safe. We encourage all students to take up both vaccine doses when offered."

A spokesperson for Hartpury University and College said: "Students not intending to engage with the vaccination programme are still able to attend in-person teaching but will not be able to reside in on-site Hartpury accommodation unless they are exempt due to medical reasons."

The spokesperson pointed out that the decision has been taken to protect staff, students and the community as they want to offer their university and college students 'the best experience possible' in the upcoming academic year.