‘Cruel’ and ‘pathetic’: Manc students on a potential Christmas student lockdown

The health secretary recently said he had ‘learned not to rule things out’

On Thursday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in response to a question on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme about whether students would be asked to stay at university at Christmas, he had “learned not to rule things out”.

This comes after a number of outbreaks on university campuses, including Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Liverpool.

However, despite such outbreaks, many students believe that the government is scapegoating them, when in fact their own contradictory and unclear advice is the primary cause of the second wave.

This is supported by Prof Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh who has said: “Students didn’t start this current phase of the epidemic, this began way back in August, and the students just got caught up in it”.

Charlotte, third year

“I think preventing students going home at Christmas completely disregards students’ mental health and well being, especially for first year students who will already be struggling enough to settle in with all the restrictions & it being more difficult to meet people, then also not being able to look forward to going home for Christmas could have such a negative impact on some people’s experience!!

“I understand the logic of trying to stop massive movement around the country but uni students aren’t solely to blame for the rise in cases yet are being punished as such seems very unfair, especially when unis have already been so left in the dark by the government anyway.”

Mercy, first year

“As an international student I’m really looking forward to the Christmas break… I know it can be hard on everyone to move away but being in an entirely different country is harder than I expected. Honestly cannot imagine not seeing my friends and family at Christmas, I miss them so much. If that’s what happens and everything stays online I might just go back home and be done with it.”

Mollie, fourth year

“I think it’s indefensible to even consider locking students down over the holiday period – not just because it denies many religious students the opportunity to honour Hannakuh and Christmas, but also because for many students this is a time of respite and pause to rest after a long semester. Going home to our families, while risky in the time of coronavirus, is necessary. Students do not exist to prop up the economy, fill landlord and university chancellor pockets, and act as guinea pigs for herd immunity. We are humans, if it’s safe enough for us to go to the pub during freshers week, it’s safe enough to go home.”

Matthew, first year

“They cant keep us away from family, they’ll never be able to enforce that, and nobody will agree with it.

“Making flat parties or whatever punishable by a fine, or even eviction is one thing, but not allowing people to go home is just wrong in my opinion.”

Celina, graduate

“I cannot even believe I am seeing this headline. Fed up of young people being blamed for this pandemic and so so angry and upset for how students and young people have been treated throughout.

“Students were encouraged to move to uni, even though most lectures are online anyway, whilst still being charged full fees, and now they might not even be able to go home at Christmas?

“It’s bloody cruel. Not to mention stupid, if you send thousands and thousands of people across the country, viruses are gonna spread. Freshers flu happens every year, so why would the government even allow the movement during a pandemic? The answer is so students could be used as scapegoats. So young people could be blamed again.

“I felt bad enough for all the students completing our degrees throughout the lockdown, but it’s just getting more and more bleak.
“I just cannot believe how much young people have been failed through this time. And yet we are getting the blame?

“The rules of this situation are getting more and more ridiculous day by day. I hope people never forget how much we have been failed by this government, student or not.”

Caitlin, second year

“I feel like my religious freedom has been taken away in that I can’t celebrate Christmas properly, however, this has given me a lot of sympathy for Muslims that couldn’t celebrate Eid. Taking away Eid for Muslims in Manchester but allowing a Christmas ‘freedom period’ is insulting to anyone who believes in religious freedom.”


“It’s continuous scaremongering from the government, they continue to blame absolutely everything on students, apparently we’re the only type of people that can spread this ‘deadly’ virus. Don’t get me wrong Covid-19 exists, and it is deadly for those of an elderly age or those who are immunocompromised. I would support the government’s rules if they were set out in stone, and that they made sense; however they seem to change on a weekly basis.”

Alex, second year

“People need to work together because some students live alone and that’s a terrifying position to be in. Especially during the holiday season. F***ing Dominic Cummings can go across the country to see if he could see well, we should be able to have a celebration in the most economically bleak year of most students’ lives.”

Allie, first year

“It’s the safest way to contain any outbreaks within the student population, but it’s sad.

“Keeping everyone in halls contains it. You send everyone in different directions and we go right back to March again, with the virus going everywhere and anywhere. It’s sad and hard but it seems like the only way to contain and manage it.”

Kira, second year

“I think it’s totally unfair and a decision that’s not considering the mental health of the students that may not be in flats of 12 and that are very family orientated.”

Valeria, first year

“Well everyone is being more chilled about Covid since the situation started getting better, so I did expect a second wave coming. And honestly, considering that we have only 3 weeks of holidays and still have to quarantine for 2 weeks… it doesn’t seem worth it. At least for me, I live in Peru and the situation here is not the best.”

Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, has recently asked the government to promise students would be allowed home for Christmas as it would be “unthinkable” that they could be locked in their halls and unable to see families, although she said “public health considerations” should always come first.

She has also said the start of term should be delayed while an “effective, efficient testing system” is put in place.

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