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Website detailing university Covid-19 outbreaks launches

Scholars aim to bring reports of outbreaks together in one place online

Academics have set up a website that aims to collate all reports of Covid-19 outbreaks in UK universities.

The site, UniCovid, will bring together news reports of coronavirus outbreaks and campuses that have been affected by local lockdowns, alongside opinion articles on how the pandemic is affecting UK institutions.

One of those involved in setting up the site is University of Sussex PhD student John Levin. “At a time when infections are already rising exponentially, it is inevitable that gathering students together and conducting face-to-face teaching in universities is going to further spread Covid,” Levin told Research Professional News.

“It’s necessary to [collate this information] publicly, to inform, allow scrutiny of the figures, and to keep the universities honest in their own reporting of cases. I’m also concerned that it will be students who are blamed for outbreaks…when both the government and the university leadership have been pushing a ‘business as usual’ policy.”

The move comes after the University and College Union said on 16 September that it would “name and shame” universities where it felt that insufficient action had been taken to keep people safe (linked story available to our HE subscribers).

“The evidence suggests that colleges and universities will be hit with further Covid outbreaks, and any institution not preparing for how it deals with one is in denial and failing staff, students and the wider community,” said UCU general secretary Jo Grady.