Manchester students say they ‘felt encaged’ by fences in GMB interview

A group of students from the University of Manchester have said they felt ‘encaged’ like ‘animals’ in their accommodation, in an interview on GMB this morning.

Metal fences were erected on Thursday at the Fallowfield campus as a “security measure” to “help avoid the mixing of households”.

Students in the halls subsequently protested on Thursday evening and pulled the barriers down, resulting in apology being issued by the university and the permanent removal of the fences.



Students at University of Manchester’s Fallowfield campus, angered by fences put up around their halls of residence, who have pulled down the barriers in protest
(Image: PA)

Talking to hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, three students explained why they reacted in the way they did

“I found out in the morning when I was walking on campus and I wasn’t sure why they were there, I wasn’t sure if they were locking us in,” Izzy Smitheman said on the morning news programme.

“On social media I saw that they were surrounding buildings completely with only small gates to let people in or out.”

The university said that the fences were intended to be in response to ‘a number of concerns’ about safety and security, in particular people accessing the site who weren’t residents.

But Izzy told Piers and Susanna that the barriers instead made students on the campus feel ‘trapped’.

“We had called for more security – there had been unwelcome people coming in the evenings, but I struggle to see how the fences would help with that,” she said.

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“People are still able to get onto campus.

“You see a lot of students wishing to go home but they haven’t allowed students to break their rent contracts and come back later so it would mean paying for an empty room.

“There’s a lot of people who feel trapped here.”



The students pulled down the fences in an angry protest
(Image: ITV)

Amy Charlton, another student at the university, said that lots of people there felt ‘caged in like animals’.

“Even people who don’t have anxiety are going to be feeling uptight and on edge about this. You feel encaged,” she said.

As part of the security measures, fences were put up around the outside of the campus, with checks on the way in, and between blocks.

While they did not prevent students from entering or exiting the campus, they did prevent passage between the different blocks of halls.

Piers, pushing further, said: “Universities are supposed to be the best time of your life where it’s party central, with a bit of work mixed in, you have a great time, you’re socialising, none of that is going on in the way it should be, you’re trapped in your four walls.

“This must have been such a blow to you all.”


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Molly Harcourt, sat alongside fellow student Amy, gave her perspective on the situation.

“It’s really difficult dealing with moving from home, not having our normal friends and family to see, meeting new people and then the university not being clear with us or communicating that well why they are implementing what they did,” she said.

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“It’s a hard time to figure out what to do.

“It’s a really strange thing to wake up to see fences put up around your house.

“We hadn’t had an email by that point as to why, so it was just confusion which causes a lot of anger and I just think it could have been dealt with in a much more clear way.”

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Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, said in response to the controversy: “I sincerely apologise for the concern and distress caused by the erecting of a fence around our Fallowfield Halls of Residence today. This was not our intention – in fact quite the reverse.

“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.”