Peterhouse College allegedly forced international students to vacate their rooms

Only those in exceptional circumstances were permitted to remain in Peterhouse accommodation

Peterhouse College reportedly forced students to vacate their rooms in light of COVID-19, despite the Vice Chancellor’s statement that “no students who cannot go home are being evicted by their College”.

It has emerged that Peterhouse students were told they had to move out by 19th March unless they received explicit permission from their tutors. In an email, students were told: “Exceptions will only be made for students who are already in self-isolation within the College; for students who are unable to return home because of international travel timetables or restrictions; for students who are care-leavers and for students for whom a return home raises significant pastoral issues. If you believe you fall into one of these categories, please communicate this to your Tutor as soon as possible.”

One Chinese student said that, in his Tutor meeting, he highlighted the risks of 30-40 hour travel back to China. He was told that the College is only focused on whether he is able to find and afford tickets. The student would have faced 14-day mandatory group quarantine upon returning home, and he was concerned that the quarantine hotel would not provide adequate facilities if he needed to sit exams there. Despite the Beijing CDC (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention) having advised against all international students returning home, the student’s Tutor repeatedly urged him to come up with a “compromise solution”. Eventually, Peterhouse agreed to accommodate him, but only until he was able to get tickets.

Another Peterhouse student had to buy a £2,000 ticket to Hong Kong, and is now quarantined in a hotel there.

A Peterhouse student had to spend £2000 on a last-minute flight home

A first year Peterhouse undergraduate, who has been permitted to stay in her accommodation, says she was unable to move rooms despite having only a microwave, kettle and toaster to cook with. The college dining hall has been shut.

A spokesperson for Peterhouse told the Cambridge Tab: “The College very much regrets the upheaval that this coronavirus crisis has caused especially where it concerns our students.

“We are committed to supporting all our students to the best of our ability at this difficult time, whether they are still in Cambridge or not.

“All students who incur hardship as a result of needing to leave Cambridge unexpectedly and at short notice are eligible to apply for our hardship funds, and the College has made additional funds available and streamlined the procedures for awarding grants to enable financial support to be offered as quickly as possible.

“Last week we urged all students, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, to discuss their personal situation with their Tutor as a matter of urgency so that each individual case could be considered carefully.

“All students who have to stay in College for various reasons can do so, and we will support them.”

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