Roughly 40 UK universities have reported coronavirus cases, with thousands of students self-isolating

Labour are calling for universities' academic year to be paused

A large number of British universities are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, with thousands of students across the country forced into self-isolation.

Although the UK government do not provide official figures on outbreaks of Covid-19 in universities, the BBC reports that a tracking of local reports suggests about 40 out of 130 have had cases of Covid-19 so far.

Manchester Metropolitan University is among the worst affected, with 1,700 students currently self-isolating for fourteen days after 127 people tested positive.


At Glasgow University 600 students are self-isolating due to 172 positive cases, while at Queen’s University Belfast a number of students have been ordered to self-isolate after a small number of cases.

The University of Essex has said that a “cluster” of cases among students and staff have been linked to sports teams.

Manchester Met Uni
CREDIT: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Labour have argued that universities’ academic year should be postponed until an “effective, efficient testing system” has been put in place, and that the government should consider refunding parts of students’ fees.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, shadow education secretary Kate Green also said that the government should promise that students can return home for Christmas.

“We do think it is important that students have a choice. If they feel they are going to be safer at home then they should be able to stay at home and conduct their learning remotely.”


Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas.

Meanwhile, Manchester Metropolitan University has apologised for ordering students in self-isolation to take down posters protesting the local lockdown.