Universities pay for security teams to check if students are following coronavirus guidelines

Mason Boycott-Owen
·2-min read
Nottingham University is one of several in the UK spending tens of thousands of pounds on officers to inform them on the actions of their students - Peter John Dickson 
Nottingham University is one of several in the UK spending tens of thousands of pounds on officers to inform them on the actions of their students - Peter John Dickson

Universities are paying tens of thousands of pounds for security teams to check students are following social distancing guidelines.

Students who are caught breaking public health guidance could be given fines, suspended or even expelled by their universities.

These teams report on students in private accommodation and the area surrounding the university, rather than just university grounds and halls of residence.

Nottingham and Nottingham Trent universities currently pay £60,000 towards community protection officers supplied by the local council.

The officers, which often deal with noise disturbances from rowdy student parties, collect evidence on students that are seen to break public health guidance in the local area before passing it onto the university.

The University of Nottingham told the Telegraph that it is looking into spending more money on officers to inform them of their students’ activities.

Prof Shearer West, University of Nottingham's vice-chancellor, said: "We already spend between the two universities something like £60,000 a year on community protection officers and supporting that consideration of how we keep discipline in the community.

"We are looking at how we reinforce that and what those protection officers may be looking for may not just be loud parties, which is one of the things they obviously do look at, but also if there are some real offences to the discipline code in terms of public health.

"We have to think about the students that we don't have immediately under our sites and we can ensure that the students are aware and have signed up to the discipline expectations of how they should behave in a public health pandemic."

Newcastle University and Northumbria Universities told the Telegraph that they share the cost of a Police Student Liaison Officer and night time police patrols through a scheme called Operation Oak, totalling £124,400 in the past year.

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “Newcastle University investigates all complaints that are raised by residents and has a sliding scale in terms of sanctions, set out in our Noise Nuisance Protocol.

“Where there is evidence of antisocial behaviour, this can result in a fine ranging from £30 to £300 and can lead to students being suspended or excluded. “

These are part of a raft of new measures being brought in by various universities to stop the spread of coronavirus and punish those who are caught breaking guidelines.

University College London has banned overnight visitors for its students while those at the University of Oxford have to wear masks in any indoor communal areas.

Bristol University previously said it would slap anti-social students breaking public health guidance with fines of up to £800.