Students fined £10k for party face ‘disciplinary action’ from UEA
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The deputy vice chancellor of the University of East Anglia has said it was “really, really disappointing” that some of the university’s students flouted coronavirus restrictions to host a party attended by about 100 people.
And he said there was likely to be disciplinary action against the three students who were fined £10,000 after hosting the house party in Bowthorpe Road in Norwich.
Prof Neil Ward, speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk, said: “We have put in a huge amount of work to engage with students and communicate with them.
“I think the rules are very clear. There’s no excuse for not understanding what the rules are. We’ve been very clear, so it’s really, really disappointing.
“Doing something like this is a serious breach of the rules in the community, but it also calls into question the students’ discipline.
“We have our own rules and regulations about student behaviour and our disciplinary system will kick in and this will be looked at and dealt with in the university, as well.”
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He said he could not comment on whether they would be thrown off their courses, as the due process needed to be carried out - but said that was a power at the university’s disposal.
As of Tuesday, there had been 64 positive coronavirus at the UEA - 40 of them on the university’s campus and 24 off campus.
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Prof Ward said more than three quarters of those cases had been picked up the voluntary testing of staff and students, run in association with the Earlham Institute.
Prof Ward said about 5,000 people had taken part in those swab tests - which had identified asymptomatic cases and led to students self-isolating.
The positive tests of students have contributed to a rise in coronavirus cases in Norwich, which will be discussed by officials at Norfolk County Council today.
Public Health England figures for the seven days to October 9, showed the number of coronavirus cases in Norwich rising to 85.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 36.3 in the previous week - the seven days up to October 2.
Louise Smith, director of public health at Norfolk County Council, said the bulk of positive cases in Norwich were among 15 to 30-year-olds, while it was older people, up to the age of 50 in the rest of the county.
She said “The numbers have gone up in Norwich. About half of the cases in Norwich are linked to the universities and to students. It may not just be the UEA, but it is the student population.”
She said: “We’ve got much more testing happening now, so testing numbers have gone up massively. A couple of months ago we were testing about 60 to 70 per 100,000 and now we’re testing 115 per 100,000, so it’s gone up massively even compared to August.
“Of course, with that, the numbers of people we are diagnosing can’t be interpreted in the same way they were in the first wave, so the other thing we need to keep an eye on are the admissions to hospital.
“If the asymptomatic screening programme picks people up quicker and, because they are asked to isolate to stop spread, then overall, we should have fewer people ill.
“The worry is not so much young, fit, people being affected, who generally have quite a mild illness, the worry is when the numbers get high it spreads into our frail elderly and older people. The bit we are waiting to see is whether the screening at the university will have a helpful impact on reducing the number that end up being admitted to hospital.”