University of Manchester vice chancellor faces no confidence vote

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image captionDame Nancy Rothwell is the subject of a student vote next month

The vice chancellor of the University of Manchester is facing a vote of no confidence by its students.

The Student Union said the referendum about Dame Nancy Rothwell would be held next month after a petition met the threshold to trigger a vote.

Relations deteriorated when students complained about the erection of a fence around a hall of residence.

A university spokesman said it had worked hard to provide students with the best possible learning experience.

The referendum is the first vote over a vice chancellor in the university's history and asks whether students agree with the following statement: "This student body has no confidence in Vice Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell and other university leaders."

A student campaign group, which is calling for her to be removed from the post, claims: "In September, the university brought students back to campus on the basis that face-to-face teaching would go ahead, only to cancel it weeks later.

"This led to a significant outbreak of Covid-19 amongst students, with thousands infected and countless lives put at risk, including those working in administrative and cleaning roles on campus."

image copyrightEwan
image captionStudent relations with the university hit a low when fences surrounded Fallowfield campus

The motion also points to a series of incidents which underlined the tensions between the students and university authorities.

Students "occupied" a University of Manchester building in November to protest, demanding rents be reduced by 40%.

It followed an earlier protest when students living at the university's Fallowfield halls of residence tore down "prison-like" fencing erected around their campus on the first day of England's autumn lockdown.

In the same month the university suspended three security guards who were accused of "racially profiling" a student.

A university spokesman: "The pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption for students, and they have not been able to have the university experience they would have expected.

"We have not got everything right, but we are committed to working closely with student representatives to address concerns and meet student needs."

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