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UCU response to Manchester Metropolitan University telling 1,700 students to self-isolate

25 September 2020 | last updated: 28 September 2020

Manchester Metropolitan University has told around 1,700 students to self-isolate for a fortnight with immediate effect after Covid outbreaks in halls of residence. The university is also shifting all undergraduate teaching for foundation and first year students online from Monday.

University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady said: 'This is the latest catastrophe in a week where wholly predictable - and predicted - Covid outbreaks have caused havoc on campuses across the UK. We warned last month of the problems with moving thousands of students across the country and the time has come for urgent action from ministers and universities to protect staff and students.

'Manchester Metropolitan University shifting teaching online only for foundation and first year students exposes the total absurdity of the current position of trying to continue with blended learning. There is no point encouraging students to come to university to self-isolate for a fortnight. This was a wholly predictable and unnecessary crisis. It is unfair on students, on staff and on their local communities.'

'Despite everything that is happening, there are reports across the country of staff are being bullied into in-person teaching. Enough is enough. The government needs to issue clear guidance that universities should move as much as they can online, in line with other workplaces.

Earlier this week, the union demanded Manchester Metropolitan University come clean on the number of Covid cases and said it had reports of cases on other parts of the university. UCU also criticised the university for failing to discuss with the union what steps it had in place to protect staff and students. The union has again this evening asked the university for advice to staff who may have been in contact with students in the halls.

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