Bristol fourth highest for COVID-19 cases amongst UK universities

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By Molly Pipe, Deputy News Editor

Close to one in 14 students have to date tested positive for the virus at the University of Bristol.

Bristol University is currently fourth in the UK for COVID-19 cases at universities, aggregate data from the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has shown. At 1,838 cases, the institution trails the Universities of Newcastle (2,218 cases), Nottingham (2,091) and Manchester (1,957).

This compares with Bristol's ranking by size; with 28,000 students and 8,000 staff, it is still only the the 21st largest university by number of students.

Bristol has been publishing daily case updates since 12 October, and currently lists 129 active cases (among students only).

In the last 24 hours, 21 new student cases and one new staff case have been reported at Bristol.

The UCU's Covid dashboard has to date logged 38,262 positive cases in UK universities, since the beginning of term.

The UCU statistics should be considered in the context in which they are collated; the data has been drawn from a range of institutions, all of whom have different ways of collecting and reporting case numbers.

Some Colleges and Universities are updating cases daily, whilst others are updating them weekly. Some, like Bristol, are corroborating self-reported cases with local PHE data.

At least one university, Nottingham University, is conducting its own asymptomatic testing programme in order to ‘identify cases that otherwise would remain undetected and thereby reduce transmission.’ This is likely to be a factor as to why it has the second highest number of recorded cases.

These disparities create a complex picture in which the statistics given provide a useful, but incomplete, guide.

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Bristol's method of reporting its case numbers has changed in recent weeks, with a cumulative total of positive tests no longer appearing in its statistics.

In response to this, a twitter account and a website have been set up to present these missing pieces of data. The Worried Academic site tracks cumulative case numbers at the University, as well as showing the proportion of students that have had the virus to date. This is currently listed as one in 14 students, excluding those who are studying exclusively online.

Featured Image: Epigram / Molly Pipe


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