Students Sanctioned Over COVID-19 Rule Breaches

Multiple students were hit with formal warnings, suspensions, and accommodation bans.

(Image: Harry Clay)

265 students were given sanctions by the University after rule breaches related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a York Vision Freedom of Information request has found.

All 265 students received formal warnings for breaking the rules, while around one in ten students found to have broken the rules also received a stronger sanction.

Ten students were banned from on-campus accommodation as a result of breaking COVID-19 rules, and five were given three month exclusions from the University’s campus.

Other punishments given by the University for breaking the rules included room moves and no contact agreements, as well as partial exclusion from areas of campus.

Multiple students were hit with nine or twelve month suspensions from study and exclusions from the University’s campus.

At least one student was referred to the Fitness to Practice committee, which is responsible for the monitoring and management of students in relation to health, professional conduct, criminal conduct, and failure to follow programme requirements.

In July this year, a Telegraph investigation found that Russell Group universities had fined students more than £430,000 for breaches of COVID-19 rules.

The Universities of Warwick and Nottingham alone charged students £230,000 in permanent or suspended fines.

However, Vision found that the University of York has not issued any fines relating to COVID-19 rule breaches.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Government’s scientific body NERVTAG and on the JCVI vaccination advisory group, said: “The sort of behaviour by campus patrols is clearly over-zealous in its attack on the kind of small-scale communal life that is important for student mental health and which would have passed unnoticed in thousands of private homes around the country.”

YUSU President Patrick O’Donnell told Vision that “the vast majority of students have played their part over the last eighteen months to keep themselves, their friends, and our local community safe.

“While elected officers have no involvement in complaints or disciplinary processes, I would hope that all sanctions given by the University are proportionate and investigated in a timely manner.

“It’s clear that those who did break the rules are in the clear minority of all sections of the population, and any assumptions suggesting that students are solely at fault for the spread of COVID-19 are incorrect.”

A spokesperson for the University said: “Throughout the pandemic, we encouraged everyone to be vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When legal restrictions were in place, we had clear COVID-19 policies based on Government guidance for universities. These were frequently communicated to students and we outlined a range of proportionate sanctions – including warnings – if someone was behaving in an inappropriate manner.

“While many UK COVID-restrictions have now been lifted, we still need to manage many aspects of day-to-day life carefully. We expect our whole community to play their part by testing regularly, and we strongly recommend wearing face coverings in busy indoor spaces, including teaching sessions.

“We’d like to thank everyone for respecting others and helping keep us all safe, especially when it comes to protecting those most vulnerable in our community.”

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