Covid-19: How much are students driving the surge in UK cases? This is what the data shows

Prof Jennifer Rogers, vice president at the Royal Statistical Society, will be working with ITV News as our new Covid statistician helping us to make sense of coronavirus numbers and what they mean to you

During the week of 26 September to 2 October, many cities across the UK with the highest number of Covid-19 cases were areas that are typically popular with students.

Where are the fastest growing areas of student Covid cases?

More in depth analysis of the data in the cities of Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield show that student areas are seeing faster increases in Covid-19 cases than surrounding areas.

This means that students could be the driving force behind the increases in coronavirus cases seen in these cities.

What does the data show us on student Covid cases?

Comparing the most recent data on the number of cases in the week from 26 September to 2 October with week 38 (14 to 20 September), we calculated the increase in cases in each area.


In Exeter, the main university areas St James's Park and Hoopern, Pennsylvania and University, as well as Central Exeter all saw coronavirus case numbers increase by over 500%, whilst the rest of Exeter saw only marginal changes.

However, across the week of 26 September to 2 October, these three areas accounted for over 84% of all Covid cases.

There has been concern that students returning to their families over Christmas could increase the spread of coronavirus. Credit: PA


The areas in Nottingham with the biggest increase in Covid cases were Lenton and Dunkirk, University Park, Lenton Abbey and Jubilee Campus, and Arboretum, Forest & Trent University.

These locations are the most popular places for Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University students to stay while studying.

The areas saw a combined increase in cases of 1,445% with latest figures showing a seven-day case total of 510. Compare this with nearby Wollaton Park and Wollaton Vale, which combined only saw 15 Covid cases over the same seven-day period.


In Manchester, 11 of the top 12 geographic areas that had the biggest increases in Covid cases were the places which are extremely popular with students.

Fallowfield Central, which has a high number of University of Manchester halls of residences, saw a higher increase in Covid-19 cases than anywhere else in Manchester.

Manchester now has the highest coronavirus rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to October 1. Credit: PA Images

There was an increase of 1,591%, going from 33 cases in week 38 to 558 cases in the week 26 September to 2 October. This area also had the highest number of Covid cases in England for this same 7-day period.

Nearby Levenshulme Central, by comparison, saw Covid-19 cases decrease by 33%, with a total of 22 cases from 26 September to 2 October.


Of the top six places with the fastest increase in Covid cases in Leeds, five of them were in areas that are popular with students, and in the latest seven-day period, over half of the Covid cases in Leeds were in areas popular with students.


Looking at Newcastle, comparing week 38 with the seven-day period 26 September to 2 October, student areas saw Covid cases increase by 217%, compared with non-student areas which saw cases increase by 50%.

Over this latest seven-day period, areas popular with students accounted for 75% of all Covid-19 cases in Newcastle.


The place with the fastest increase in Covid-19 case numbers in Liverpool was "Central & Islington", an area popular with students.

Cases here rose by 577% and across all areas popular with students, Covid cases increased by 165%, compared with areas not popular with students where cases increased by 115%.

The area that has seen by far the fastest increase in Covid-19 cases in England is Endcliffe and Ranmoor in Sheffield, home to two University of Sheffield halls of residences (The Edge and The Ridge) and the largest student community in Sheffield.

Compared with week 38, the seven-day period 26 September to 2 October saw a massive increase in Covid-19 cases of 6,175%.

Looking at these figures suggests that Covid-19 cases are rising quicker amongst university students and areas that are more heavily populated with students play a substantial part in driving increasing case numbers in cities in general.