Sussex professor estimates 14,000 students currently have COVID at UK universities

And 9,000 are asymptomatic


A senior lecturer at the University of Sussex has drawn up estimations showing that approximately 14,000 students due to return to UK universities are currently COVID-positive.

More worryingly, about 9,000 of these will currently be asymptomatic, and of these between 2,000 and 6,500 will be infectious.

Senior lecturer Andrew Chitty, who estimated the figures, suggests that universities across the country will suffer multiple large outbreaks of COVID-19 within the weeks to come. The modelling of Bristol University’s figures shows that if face-to-face teaching were to continue at Bristol 20 per cent of the university population would catch the virus by the end of first term. This modelling was conducted by a team at Bristol Uni, the rest by Chitty.

Among some of the figures that Andrew Chitty has forecasted are uni towns with more than one university, such as Brighton. With such large student populations, it could trigger an even bigger outbreak. The University of Brighton is predicted to have 293 cases out of 20,470 by the 5th October, along with the University of Sussex having 214 cases out of 19,155 students.

The predicted trends for the spread of the virus by 5th October (one of the date breakdowns in Chitty’s model) are similar across all universities. Oxford has an estimated  278 cases out of 25,390 students and Cambridge has a predicted 224 cases out of 20,890 students.

Moving to the north of England we can see the estimates rise in line with the size of student population. Chitty predicted 338 cases out of 27,215 students by the 5th October for Newcastle University, and the larger University of Manchester has a proportionately bigger number of predicted cases with 426 out of 40,250 students. The north has also seen more local lockdowns on average than areas in the south of England.

Chitty’s predicted figures for Wales show the University of Cardiff having 352 predicted cases out of 33,190 students, whereas Northern Ireland has higher predicted figures – like Queen’s University Belfast, with 498 predicted cases out of 24,695 students.

Has your university not been mentioned here? Here is the link to Andrew Chitty’s spreadsheet and here is a link to his blog post explaining it.

The current government guidelines for dealing with coronavirus can be found here.