Students Speak Out After University Erects ‘Prison-Like’ Fences Around Halls

by : Emily Brown on : 06 Nov 2020 10:57

The University of Manchester has issued an apology after trapping its students with ‘prison-like’ fences erected around the campus. 

The UK entered national lockdown on Thursday, November 5, in a bid to stem increasing coronavirus cases on the run-up to Christmas. Officials are urging members of the public to stay at home, though schools and universities will remain open.


Thousands of students are housed in student accommodation and they have been urged not to travel home until the end of term. On Thursday morning, students at the University of Manchester awoke to find workers putting up tall metal fences, blocking off some entry and exit points and leaving many students feeling trapped.

The University is said to have constructed the fences without warning, with one student writing on Twitter:

After absolutely no communication from the university we’re being fenced in by the University of Manchester. After asking the workers we were told it won’t be the whole way round but we have heard nothing from the uni and they’ve offered no support


A number of posts appeared on social media as students criticised the fences and the university’s handling of the lockdown, prompting widespread shock and anger.

By Thursday evening, students took action into their own hands by launching protests against the fences, with crowds ultimately pulling them down.

The University of Manchester initially insisted that students had received notification about the construction, but it has since admitted that work began ‘ahead of the message being seen’, BBC News reports.


Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor of the University, issued an apology following the outcry, saying the ‘concern and distress’ caused by the fence was not intentional.

She continued:

The fencing was intended as a response to a number of concerns received over recent weeks from staff and students on this site about safety and security; particularly about access by people who are not residents.

There was never any intent to prevent students from entering or exiting the site.

The fences are being taken down from Friday morning and students are being contacted immediately. Alternative security measures, including additional security patrols are being put in place.

I apologise once again for the issues caused by this incident.


Students said the fence made it feel like they were ‘in a prison’, with one noting that the construction was an additional blow to those who have already spent weeks isolating away from family and friends.

Students have been praised online for tearing down the fences, with many social media users slamming the university for its irresponsible actions.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Coronavirus, COVID-19, lockdown, Now


University of Manchester and 3 others
  1. University of Manchester

    Statement and apology from the President and Vice-Chancellor

  2. BBC News

    New lockdown: Manchester University students pull down campus fences

  3. g abriel/Twitter


  4. Ben McGowan/Twitter