VC Hugh Brady says lockdowns at other universities are a ‘wakeup call’ for Bristol students


By Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The University of Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, has urged incoming freshers to adhere to Covid regulations, but insisted the University will ‘certainly have the support ready’ should student blocks be placed into quarantine.

As halls at the University of Bristol are starting to refill amidst the ongoing pandemic, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh Brady has said ‘sobering’ accounts of student arrivals at other UK Universities should ‘strengthen the conviction’ of Bristol students ‘to behave responsibly and keep each other safe’.

Professor Brady spoke to Epigram amidst national attention on the return of University students, with some 717 cases of coronavirus having already been identified among students and staff in 33 UK universities.

Freshers at Bristol have been moving into their halls to join their 4-14 person ‘living circles’ | Epigram / Filiz Emily Gurer

At Manchester Metropolitan University, around 1,700 students have been made to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they don’t have symptoms after 127 cases were confirmed.

All first and foundation year students there have now been told teaching will take place online for the two week isolation period following the outbreak.

Professor Brady said that whilst the decision to delay teaching at Bristol until October was initially to implement the ‘blended learning’ of online and some in-person teaching, ‘it’s allowed us to look at what’s happening elsewhere’ and ‘see how quickly the virus can get out of control’.

Freshers at Bristol have been moving into their university halls over the past two weeks, to join their 4-14 person ‘living circles’ where they  are prohibited from mixing with other students outside of their social bubble.

Whilst many have adhered to the rules, some new arrivals told Epigram there were still house parties and mass gatherings, with one student saying, ‘There’s something every night’.

‘Stay safe, follow the rules and be respectful’ – Bristol Universities release joint message to students
UoB to introduce ‘living circles’ for first years in accommodation

Professor Brady explained that 60 students will be hired as ‘Covid marshals’ to help enforce the new regulations, along with private security to disperse potential large gatherings, stating that: ‘if people do misbehave and misbehave repeatedly, we will have to sanction them. There's no doubt about that’.

‘I really hope it doesn't come to that, but if students want to have that in-person experience, if they want to have a reasonable, albeit a different social life, they've got to behave responsibly.’

‘Operation Beech’, a £15,000 university-funded operation by Avon & Somerset Police, will also patrol student areas on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays until early November to respond to issues from locals over students breaking Covid-19 guidelines such as the ‘rule of six’.

Brady’s words came within an hour of the Bristol Universities and College Union (UCU) passing a motion to demand the ‘immediate’ end of all ‘unnecessary face-to-face, in-person teaching’ with a move to online learning ‘in all possible areas’.

Featured Image: Filiz Emily Gurer

Are you a fresher? Let us know what you make of your ‘living circle’.