Newcastle students who break Covid rules face expulsion

Students in Newcastle who break the rules will face extinction. Credit: PA

Students who don't follow Covid-19 safety rules on returning to Newcastle could be expelled from university.

The city's two universities have warned that serious action will be taken against those who ignore restrictions to prevent the virus spreading, with the worst offenders potentially being kicked off their courses.

More than 55,000 Newcastle and Northumbria university students are arriving back in the city, a serious worry for public health chiefs at a time when the North East is facing rising coronavirus cases and had lockdown-style measures imposed last week.

Asked what would happen to a "small minority" of students who don't adhere to Covid rules being followed on both campuses and across Tyneside, Newcastle University vice chancellor Chris Day said the consequences were "extremely clear".

Prof Day told a meeting of the City Futures Board:

Professor Day added: "We have had similar issues with other student activities like induction activities and joining society events that have hit the press over the last few years.

"Again along those lines, it has been made clear that you could be thrown out of university if your behaviour is such that we deem that necessary."

Northumbria University vice chancellor Andrew Wathey added that the two institutions' positions on students ignoring Covid restrictions were "absolutely parallel".

He added that the health of students, staff, and the wider city was the universities' "top priority", while also urging people not to vilify students unfairly.

Prof Wathey said: "Students are making an effort too and it is very important that they are not demonised. And following on from that we must all be vigilant in guarding against the possibility of hate crime against students."

The two universities must present outbreak response plans to deal with positive coronavirus cases on campus, which will need to be signed off by city council public health director Eugene Milne.

Social distancing measures, one-way systems and hand sanitisers have been installed on campuses and students will be asked to sign a contract on arrival, which includes a requirement to inform their university if they experience Covid symptoms so that track and trace measures can begin immediately.

Prof Day said that he would be "very reluctant" to close down the university entirely but parts of it may have to be temporarily shut if there is an outbreak.

The two universities published a letter after Mr Hancock's announcement on Thursday to inform students that the new measures in the North East will not affect their ability to move to Newcastle and form a 'household' with other students, nor impact the quality of the education offer they will receive.