Coronavirus: Cranfield University looks after 750 students in lockdown

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image copyrightEsther Edun
image captionEsther Edun and other students had computers delivered to them by the university

A university that has closed to face-to-face teaching during the coronavirus lockdown is still looking after about 750 students on campus.

Half the 4,500 postgraduates at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, are from abroad, and some were unable to go home when borders closed.

The university said its job was to make them "feel safe".

Esther Edun, 45, a researcher from Nigeria, said support during a stressful time had been "phenomenal".

image copyrightCranfield University
image captionCranfield University, pictured before lockdown, teaches 4,500 students from all over the world
image copyrightCranfield University
image captionAbout 1,000 students normally stay on campus but that number has decreased to about 750

All classes have been moved online.

Alison Whaley, director of student experience, said: "We want them to feel safe and taken care of.

"This means opened-up additional study areas, helping with IT issues, hosting webinars, giving access to the advice centre and counsellors, and dealing with them on a case-by-case basis."

As many students had to leave quickly, their belongings were left behind.

"We have been working out how to ship them as they can't easily return to us. Imagine the distress of leaving them in your room," she said.

image copyrightEsther Edun
image captionBeing on campus has meant Esther Edun has "bonded" more with her husband and teenage children, she said

Ms Edun is one of 100 students who live on campus with their families.

As president of the university's Christian Union, she is ensuring four meetings are being held every week, on Zoom.

She said time spent online was helping strengthen members' faith and resolve.

image copyrightCranfield University
image captionJesus Ezquerro is keeping busy by calling friends and family, taking part in webinars and exercising

Jesus Ezquerro, 23, from Spain, said daily meetings with his supervisor were helping him "keep on track".

"Sometimes having someone to talk to and feel appreciated is enough," he said.

image copyrightSEVA Trust
image captionHot meals are delivered twice a week to students by Bedford-based education charity, SEVA Trust UK

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