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Covid-19: Cost of food plan for self-isolating students cut

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image captionSelf-isolating first year students are confined to the university's ziggurat halls of residence

A university has cut the cost of meals for self-isolating students after the price was described as "scandalous".

First year students have been asked to stay inside halls of residence at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich after an outbreak of Covid-19.

They were originally told to pay £252 for a two week meal plan, but that has now been reduced to £168.

Critics described the original cost as "disaster capitalism" and "a great way to take advantage of students".

A UEA spokesman said its food delivery package was "one choice for students who are in self-catered flats".

UEA carries out routine testing on staff and students - and has so far recorded 26 positive cases, it said.

The university said there were currently 100 students self-isolating.

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The two-week meal plan comprises three meals a day, with each one delivered to students' flats.

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image captionThe university has reduced the price of its two-week meal plan for isolating students from £252 to £168

Dinner is the only cooked meal, with breakfast featuring a mini cereal box, a pastry and yoghurt and lunch including salad or sandwiches, crisps and either a cake or fruit.

The service originally worked out at £18 a day. The reduction means each meal will cost £4 but would remain the same size, the university said.

media captionCovid: 'Raw deal' for Norwich university students learning in a pandemic

The price change follows criticism not only from students but also the National Union of Students (NUS).

One 19-year-old second year student, who did not want to be named, said they felt UEA had been "looking to make a quick buck".

"We can't believe the university has the audacity to charge over the odds in the current climate," he said. "Six pounds a meal is like having takeouts every day."

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image captionThe University of East Anglia in Norwich

Larissa Kennedy, president of the NUS, said universities "should not be profiting from this crisis".

"It is scandalous that, on top of their enormous fees and extortionate rents, students are now being asked to fork out huge amounts of money for basic amenities during lockdowns," she said.

The university spokesman said in addition to the food delivery option, UEA offers students priority supermarket delivery slots and commercial online food delivery services.

Students who have already paid the previous price for the service will get a refund.

He said the university was in the process of reviewing the costs of the food package before any issues were raised.

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  • Covid: 'Raw deal' for Norwich university students learning in a pandemic