In the two months since she arrived at the University of Manchester, Hannah Virgo has been nowhere near a lecture theatre, sports hall or student bar. But she has occupied an empty tower block.
Nearly two weeks ago, the 18-year-old and nine other students sneaked into Owens Park Tower, at the centre of Manchester’s Fallowfield campus, and barricaded themselves inside to protest against the university’s handling of education in the pandemic.
Despite the coronavirus crisis, students were encouraged to start their courses at UK universities on the promise of an undergraduate experience, but many say they have been abandoned with little in the way of financial or mental health support, locked down with strangers as Covid-19 tore through university accommodation, and forced to pay annual tuition fees of £9,250 for lessons over Zoom.
“They moved us here under false pretences,” Ms Virgo says. “Basically, they lied to us so we’d