At the University of Edinburgh, students have been back just three weeks yet there are already reports of an “exodus” on campus, as first-years feel the ramifications of strict social distancing measures.

In Pollock Halls, the University’s largest student accommodation, a handful of coronavirus cases have been confirmed since term started on September 21.

Certain corridors have been put in isolation, with students told not to leave while daily meals are delivered to their doors. But for the remaining 1900 students on Holyrood Park Rd, the outbreaks have led to tighter restrictions on their daily lives.

Residents must eat in the accommodation’s cafeteria alone, on individual tables. Gatherings of more than two people are forbidden in common areas and joining University sports teams is temporarily banned.

But in the last week, the University has come under fire from students, who have taken to social media to express their anger.

Leading the outcry is the campaign group ‘Pollock Prisoner’, which documents first-hand accounts of conditions inside the up to £9,000 a year halls of residence.

Under the tagline “world’s most expensive prison” are pictures of out-of-date sandwiches and meagre meals, as well as food which does not meet students’ religious dietary requirements.


A few pics of the isolation food that students are sending in. One girl just received an OUT OF DATE bread roll this morning (29/09). This is not sustainable - especially for people who may be ill with Covid and need nutritious food. The salads are tiny and the other food looks disgusting quite frankly. Pollock what are you doing !!!!! Share our page and message us with info and stories you have about the University Of Edinburgh. All stories will remain anonymous. #pollockhalls #universityofedinburgh #freshers #uni #university #universitylife #unistudent #uni2020 #2020 #scotland #edinburgh #parents #studentunion #mentalhealth #wellbeing #edinburghfreshers #parentsofstudents #pollockprisoner @edinburghuniversity.

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One student, from Brixton, told the Wandsworth Times she is on the cusp of coming home.

“The only thing keeping me here is my new friends and the urge to fight against what the university is trying to do to us.

“It feels as though they’re trying to make it impossible to stay here due to the lack of food and support, but they won’t tell us to leave so they can keep our money. The food provision for those in isolation is horrific so a lot of people say they will go home if they have to isolate,” said the 18-year-old economics and politics student.

A 19-year-old cognitive science student said she has started university counselling sessions to weather the storm.

However, there are only a limited number of slots available, and often the public WiFi cannot support the calls. She said when she was on her first call the picture crashed, leaving her with only a microphone to communicate her anxieties.

“I understand the sacrifices we have to make because it’s a serious situation. But it feels a lot like we are being punished for being here, even though we were encouraged to come here.”

We have common sense, we’ll be responsible with distancing in public and wearing masks. We’re not trying to get anyone killed, we’re just trying to keep our mental wellbeing intact because it’s not at the moment,” said the student from Kent.  



The University of Edinburgh has responded to the allegations of poor treatment in Pollock Halls. A spokesperson said:

“University staff are working hard to provide care and support - including mental health support - for all students who are required to self-isolate by the Scottish Government.

“Catering staff will provide three meals a day for all students living in University-provided accommodation. These meals are available in vegan and gluten-free options to ensure that all dietary requirements are met.”