University of Manchester has launched an ‘immediate inquiry’ into the fences

VC Nancy Rothwell said she is ‘not aware’ of who ‘sanctioned’ them being put up


The University of Manchester has launched an immediate inquiry into the fences put up around University of Manchester halls yesterday.

She said she does not currently know who “sanctioned” the fencing being put up. The results of the inquiry will be published “within two weeks”.

Yesterday, fences were put up around a number of UoM halls. Students planned a protest against the new fencing later that evening, and during the protest some of the fencing was torn down, although the university had already announced the fencing would be taken down today.

Students at the protest told The Manchester Tab “hundreds” were in attendance.

In a live interview with The Mancunion, streamed on Facebook, the university’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “I was aware a fence of some nature was going up a couple of days ago but not of the scale and not of the communications, which obviously we have not handled well.

“For that reason, we have launched an immediate inquiry into how those decisions were taken. That will report within two weeks, it will be fully published and will be public, so we can learn lessons from it. I’m not after a witch-hunt, but I do want to understand what went wrong and what caused such distress to our students, which again I regret.”

VC Nancy Rothwell during the interview

When asked to confirm that she didn’t know “who sanctioned the fence putting up”, she replied: “I’m not aware of that at the present time, but the inquiry will tell us that.”

Later in the interview, she also said: “The message we intended to send is not the one that was received by our students,” and they are “deeply sorry”.

Manchester Uni’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “Firstly, I want to apologise again for the distress caused by putting up the fence yesterday and the very poor communication surrounding this.

“I am determined to find out what went wrong and to learn from it. As a matter of urgency, I have commissioned an inquiry into these events. This will be conducted by Professor Clive Agnew, a former Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, and our intention is to also include a former Students’ Union Officer.

“They will examine how and, for what reasons, the decision to erect the fence around the residences on the Fallowfield campus was taken and how this decision was – or wasn’t – communicated to students. The report will be submitted by the end of November and we will publish the full report as soon as possible for all to see.

“I will also be meeting with student representatives from the Fallowfield residences as soon as possible, together with our Director for the Student Experience, Dr Simon Merrywest.

“I know the events of yesterday were distressing for many students on a personal level at what is already a very difficult time. I’m sorry for that. I also regret that our actions led to protests and unrest at the residences last night. The fence has been removed today and, in consultation with students, additional security measures will be put in place to help to keep all of our residents safe.

“We would like students to write to us with suggestions about how we can improve safety across our campus sites. Please contact [email protected] with your suggestions.

“If you have been affected by anything that has happened either yesterday or during your time with us so far, or just want to speak to someone then our counselling and support services are available to you. Advice and Response staff will be present at the Fallowfield site next week for one-on-one sessions and we will be holding check in and chat sessions over Zoom. Details of these arrangements will be sent shortly. You can also speak to your ResLife advisors for wellbeing or any other concerns.

“Finally, I want to reiterate that I am truly sorry for the events of yesterday.”

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Protesting Manchester students tear down the fences put up around halls