Students self-isolating at Lancaster University charged £17.95 a day for meals


A furious student has revealed how she and hundreds of others self-isolating at Lancaster University are being charged an ‘extortionate’ £17.95 a day for food worth just £2.70.

Bhavreet Dulku, 18, a first year studying Politics, International Relations and management, tweeted: ‘My uni charging £17 a day for food if you have to isolate is an absolute shambles. How can they expect everyone on budgets to be able to afford that?’.

The university, which is also charging students £7 to do their washing, has been accused of ‘profiting’ from the charges to those locked down in halls of residence. 

Bhavreet Dulku, 18, a first year studying Politics, International Relations and management, said: ‘My uni charging £17 a day for food if you have to isolate is an absolute shambles’

On this week's menu, shared on the Lancaster University website, isolating students analysed the ingredients of one day's menu and claimed the real cost from ASDA would be just £2.70

On this week’s menu, shared on the Lancaster University website, isolating students analysed the ingredients of one day’s menu and claimed the real cost from ASDA would be just £2.70

Which UK universities have the 4,000 Covid cases?

  • Stirling: 14
  • Glasgow: 172
  • Salford: 56
  • Liverpool University: 177
  • Nottingham University: 425
  • Swansea: 32
  • Oxford Brookes: 47
  • Kent University: 11
  • De Montford: 9
  • Manchester University: 382
  • Newcastle/Northumbria: 850
  • Sheffield University: 500
  • Queen’s University Belfast: 166

*Some universities have not disclosed figures

Ms Dulku’s plea has provoked an angry reaction on Twitter with an online petition calling for a reduction in the food fees attracting nearly 1,000 signatures.

It comes as figures emerged showing more than 80 universities in the UK have reported at least 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as the virus spreads at an alarming rate among students and staff.

The increase in cases means more universities, including five of the country’s biggest institutions,  are shifting to online classes in a desperate move to curb the outbreaks.  

The University of Nottingham, The University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan University and Northumbria and Newcastle universities announced they will all move towards a virtual learning model.  

On this week’s menu, shared on the Lancaster University website, isolating students analysed the ingredients of one day’s menu and claimed the real cost from ASDA would be just £2.70. 

Adding the cost of distribution, they brought the total to only £4.00.

Others pointed out that the weekly total of £125.65 was beyond most students’ means.

The meals menu from last week appeared less than nutritious for the price, with only one hot meal each day.

Breakfast last Monday was Pain au chocolate with a granola bar, a piece of fresh fruit and some fruit juice. 

Lunch was a cheese and pickle sandwich, a packet of crisps, a piece of fresh fruit and a bottle of water. 

The evening meal was ‘Jerk chicken with salsa OR spicy aubergine and lemon casserole with new potatoes and peas, a sweet treat and soft drink.’ 

Ms Dulku, from Derby said: ‘Normally you’d spend about £17 a week on food. To charge that amount a day is stunning.

‘They say they care about our well-being, but they’re charging students this much when so many people don’t get support from their parents. 

Outbreaks have been sweeping campuses and forcing students to isolate despite the new term only starting weeks ago

Outbreaks have been sweeping campuses and forcing students to isolate despite the new term only starting weeks ago

‘Delivery slots aren’t always available from supermarkets, so what are people supposed to do if they don’t have friends to drop off food for them? 

‘It seems like they’re doing it to make a profit. If you break it down you can probably get the items on Monday’s menu last week from Asda for less than £4.’

Ms Dulku's plea has provoked an angry reaction on Twitter with an online petition calling for a reduction in the food fees attracting nearly 1,000 signatures

Ms Dulku’s plea has provoked an angry reaction on Twitter with an online petition calling for a reduction in the food fees attracting nearly 1,000 signatures

Universities vow to ensure students can access essentials during self-isolation

Vice-chancellors have pledged to support students who have to self-isolate in university halls when campus outbreaks occur.

Universities UK (UUK), which represents 139 institutions, has published a checklist to help universities support student wellbeing in the autumn term as they face a variety of challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities should ensure that students have access to basic necessities during self-isolation, including food, laundry services, cleaning materials, bin bags, tissues and toilet rolls, the guide says.

It comes after students have hung signs out their windows claiming they did not have food. 

More than 80 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of coronavirus as students return to campus. A surge in cases has led to thousands of students having to self-isolate in their halls, including Manchester Metropolitan and Glasgow University. 

But UUK president Professor Julia Buckingham, vice-chancellor of Brunel University, said that the vast majority of students are being ‘looked after extremely well’ by universities during lockdown measures. 

The checklist suggests that universities should encourage students to disclose any pre-existing or current mental health issues, and encourage them to use student wellbeing and mental health support services.

Institutions could provide a Covid-19 contact, where affected students can report symptoms and seek support, and offer online activities to help maintain social interactions during self-isolation.

Ms Dulku said she was already angry after arriving at the university on September 23 and discovering the ‘blending learning’ she was promised only contains one contact hour a week. 

She also described the university £7 washing service as ‘ridiculous’ when doing laundry usually costs around £2.40.

The Change.org petition, set up by Kyle Westrip, added: ‘Charging unacceptably high rates for food delivery will exacerbate the health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, making those with symptoms less likely to isolate, and more likely to break the rules.’ 

Replies on Twitter shared the outrage. ‘Shop Steward’ tweeted: ‘Are you under their care and not allowed to leave? I’d argue that they now have a duty of care for you …by that I mean feed you.’  

Andy Haigh, said: ‘That reeks of disaster capitalism, a captive market in extraordinary circumstances being extorted. That’s £119 on food for a week. If you were working 20 hours a week at a minimum wage of £6.45 (aged 18-20) that would leave you £10.’

The University told MailOnline that the self-isolating students had ‘many other options’ and details other providers had been shared with students.

A spokesperson added: ‘To make life a little easier we have provided an opt-in meal delivery service for any self-isolating students wishing to have fresh food prepared and cooked for them and delivered to their door.

‘We are charging less than we would for our normal dining-in restaurant and café offer, despite additional costs of delivery and disposable containers.

‘Students are not obliged to use this service and still have access to their own kitchens, alternative shopping and takeout food delivery services.  

‘The package consists of three meals per day that are prepared daily by chefs using fresh ingredients in our own kitchens. We have kept prices as low as we can without compromising on quality.’ 

NUS President Larissa Kennedy said: ‘It is scandalous that, on top of their enormous fees and extortionate rents, students are now being asked to fork out huge amounts of money for basic amenities during lockdowns. 

‘Despite universities and government knowing lockdowns like these would be likely, students were simply not told this may occur. Universities shouldn’t be profiteering from this crisis. 

‘Students Deserve Better! All universities and government need to commit to providing rent reimbursement for lockdown periods and free internet access, free care packages with food, household products, wellbeing materials and general necessities, and targeted educational & mental health support, with facilitation of social activity.’

This comes as students were today been dealt another blow after three of the country’s largest universities shifted to online classes in a desperate move to curb Covid outbreaks. 

More than 80 universities in the UK have reported at least 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among students and staff. 

Manchester University, where there have been more than 1,000 cases since September 21, and Manchester Metropolitan University have today shifted to virtual learning. 

The University of Sheffield, where more than 500 students and staff have tested positive since the start of term, will also move to online lectures from Friday.

And more than 300 students and eight members of staff at the University of Birmingham have tested positive for Covid, it was revealed today. 

The University area of Exeter last night leapt into the top ten of areas in England with positive cases with a rise from 127 to 223. 

The university today confirmed a number of students had been sent home for ‘breaching Covid guidelines.’

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