Hundreds of Fallowfield students have torn down the fencing around their halls as part of a mass protest against being ‘imprisoned’.
The University of Manchester had installed fences overnight at the accommodation, apparently without prior notice, leaving students alarmed that they were being ‘locked in’.
After realising the distress the new ‘security’ features had caused across campus, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell apologised for the move and pledged to remove the fencing by Friday.
But a protest went ahead on Bonfire Night anyway – as students gathered with placards reading ‘HMP Fallowfield 9k to enter’ and let off smoke bombs during a huge demonstration.
Images and videos show the students pulling down the construction work and cheering before walking over the fallen fences.
The fences had originally been put up to improve security, the university explained, in order to prevent non-residents from accessing the premises.
But students insist they were not told about the construction work, and despite promises to take down the fences, one resident told local paper The Mancunion that the protest was about “not about the fence”, but about “the principle.”
In a statement, Ms Rothwell said: “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.”