SCAN spoke to Lancaster freshers about their experiences mistakenly self-isolating, being roomed with COVID-positive housemates, and being charged £300 more for a VISA.
As if coming to university wasn’t stressful enough, this year’s cohort has a global pandemic to contend with. SCAN spoke to some of Lancaster’s freshers about how the university has handled the situation.
“The enforcement of the rules has been inconsistent and sporadic — we’ve been shouted at for being out with our flat on campus but also been sat in the Grizedale beer garden where it was verging on a party with no security at all, to the point where we felt we had to leave because it was too uncomfortable.”
“There’s not enough clarity. I have no idea what the specific rules are and neither does anyone else. My whole building was accidentally put on the self-isolation list and delivered food which went to waste. We saved a lot but most of it was this unappealing curry and rice that we threw away.
“I honestly have no idea why they thought our whole building was isolating. Maybe they mixed up catered students with isolated students. I don’t know but it’s scary being left in the dark.”
“I’m an international student and the uni took so long to give me my CAS that my visa is only just starting to get ready. Now, I have to pay £300 more for them to be faster.
“Lancaster University hasn’t dealt badly with the whole situation. However, in my opinion, they were disorganized. I received the acceptance later than I was expecting and, as an international student, my CAS (which I need for a visa) and other documents only arrived on Monday. A visa takes a long time and now I’ll be arriving late because the university took so long to answer.”
“I arrived on the 14th of September to self-isolate before the start of the academic year. The second day I was moved to a different self-isolating flat because people were due to move into the first one. There were just three of us in the flat.
“Then a girl who also arrived on the 14th was moved from another building to our flat. It wasn’t too bad because we had all been self-isolating since the 14th so we got on with it.
“However, the following week three more new people arrived. They were placed in our flat although we were already ten days into our self-isolation and they had yet to start theirs which meant we had to restart our two-week self-isolation period again while other freshers were out exploring campus and partying.
“We stayed in our rooms the whole time, waiting for it to end. And, on Monday, it did.
“Then, come Wednesday, we found out that one of the new people who had come to Lancaster from Portugal tested positive for COVID. The self-isolation started all over again.
“The uni placed newly self-isolating international students with students whose quarantine was almost over as if we were all the same. Now, we’re the ones paying for the uni’s poor choices. I struggle with mental health and these last four weeks stuck in my room, forbidden from leaving lest I spread COVID, that is so hard. I don’t have friends here, I can’t attend my first seminars, I’m an international student and my family is far away. It’s so oppressively lonely.”
Alex’s County townhouse tested positive for COVID-19 on 3rd October, a week after moving onto campus. The day after their positive test, Alex and her housemates received an email from Lancaster University about food deliveries to COVID-positive households.
The part of the email Alex shows in her Tiktok video reads:
“Lancaster University are offering a daily package of 3 meals with a cold breakfast, cold lunch and an evening meal (to be heated by yourself).
“The total cost per day is £17.95 and is available to on campus students only.”
Alex also claims in her video, captioned “we’ve already got covid no need to financially bankrupt us too girlies”, that Lancaster University are making it “as hard as possible for food shops to deliver to the flat.”
According to ONS, the average UK individual spends £25.80 per week on groceries and food at home (£3.69 per day; less than 20% of the amount Lancaster University is charging).
The Tiktok video, posted on 4th October, was seen 98.3k times in 24 hours.
When contacted for a statement, Lancaster University responded:
“Lancaster University is providing an opt-in meal delivery service for any self-isolating students requesting the service. The package consists of three meals per day that are prepared daily from fresh ingredients in our own kitchens. Students are free to use any alternative food delivery services, this is an additional provision made available to support students that wish to have their meals provided to them in this way.
“Students choosing this service can have full confidence that they are eating food that has been prepared from locally sourced products – where possible – and all Allergens and Food Intolerances are catered for. The meals are delivered to the student’s accommodation and social distancing procedures are carefully observed.
“Staff are working hard to keep students safe and well during these unprecedented times and we thank all students for their cooperation. At the time of writing, we are not aware of these incidents, but urge students to talk to their colleges and accommodation office if there are problems or use the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox.”