• RockBox

99.8% of UK Students not in Lockdown - Campus Update

This article is designed to inform campus advertisers and agencies of the current state of play in universities as of 28th September. The article does not represent the opinions of any institution or body named within.

At present approximately 3,000 students of a total of 2.4 million in higher education are in a 2 week localised lockdown.

3,000 out of nearly 900,000 first year students, or freshers, speaks volumes to the efforts students’ unions, universities, hospitality and accommodation providers have put in over the summer to provide a safe environment for students returning to campus. Data source BBC News.

We feel it necessary to outline these numbers to place the current news headlines into context. Every campus is currently open and those affected by these lockdowns also remain open to varying degrees in both academic and students’ union buildings with strict social distancing continuing. We would like to reassure our clients and partners that campuses are still open and students are still on site to see your campaigns. There is no immediate plan for this to change on a national level.

The relatively small number of lockdowns is also a huge testament to students themselves who in a vast majority managed to maintain social distancing and enjoy their time at university. The overriding feeling reported by students is that local lockdowns were an unavoidable consequence of breaking social distancing when living in large accommodation. Students were pre warned, measures were in place and now they have been acted on in a few isolated instances. The lockdowns represent a handful of buildings out of several hundred large accommodation blocks that support over 150 universities.

The students affected are in 14 days of self isolation in their accommodation, though this is typically within their flat of 8 to 12 persons and not in what might be imagined as solitary confinement in a small bedroom. They are also allowed to move within their flats and meet with other groups inside the building in some cases such as the large Manchester Met block. After this 14 day period they will be allowed to continue as normal with social distancing remaining in place, as is the case with the wider population who are told to isolate.

Of the 3,000 students in lockdown, some 1,700 are in one large first year building for Manchester Metropolitan University. After social distancing rules were broken with house parties in the building, 100+ students later tested positive for Covid-19. The same is true for the handful of other buildings in Lockdown in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Exeter and Liverpool.

The response to impose a 14 day isolation period is in line with the current government guidelines and is targeted and proportionate. It is unfortunate for students stuck in a building that have not broken the guidelines but this is somewhat of an inevitability with such a huge number of people going to university for the first time. Students are otherwise maintaining social distancing on campus and in public so it was not deemed necessary to lockdown the entire student populations for these institutions.

To put this in context, over 32,000 students attend Manchester Metropolitan University. Of this under 6% are now affected by these measures for two weeks in just one building.

It is worth noting that large accommodation living is mostly used for first year students, after this they tend to find private accommodation and live relatively similar to a small family household in a shared flat or house. These students would not be pulled into a large building lockdown.

As you can see in the image below in Royal Holloway and above in Liverpool Guild, universities are operating much like the hospitality sector and imposing strict social distancing and providing PPE to staff.

You can clearly see from some of the backlash against these measures that students want to be out and free to move around campus and their local towns and cities. This is also the case on campuses offering online learning only and we are seeing the Students' Union come into its own as a place to socialise and study responsibly with social distancing in place.

To summarise, campuses are still open and over 99.8% of students are still free to go to and enjoy university. 3,000 of 2.4 million students are in lockdown in their accommodation until mid October. Students in locations with wider local lockdowns are still free to attend campuses and the local pub if they wish to until 10pm. Targeted building lockdowns will likely be a regular occurrence and used to prevent wider outbreaks on an ongoing rolling basis over Q4, with more sophisticated testing and guideline this will eventual condense to flat and block level to avoid large buildings locking down outright. Given the high profile coverage of these cases we would expect most students to adhere to social distancing and avoid large illegal gatherings in accommodation. This all points to campus life continuing and students can enjoy their time at university.

At Rockbox we are confident we can deliver client campaigns successfully. Our Covid booking terms and conditions allow full flexibility for us to manage campaigns and react to events in real time to ensure clients do not miss out as a result of a local lockdown or isolated building lockdown.

You can find more information on our campus Out of Home Advertising opportunities here or please reach out to us on for more information.

 Get in touch! 

Thanks for submitting! We have received your request and will reply as soon as possible, please call us on 020 7907 0840 for anything urgent