A university that spent £11,000 on campus fencing has been forced to remove the barriers hours later amid protests.
Students living at the University of Manchester’s Fallowfield halls of residence awoke to find workers putting up “huge metal barriers” on Thursday.
It sparked a protest among hundreds of students over the “prison-like” fencing, which was later torn down.
Work to remove the fencing began last night and will be completed later.
The university confirmed it had spent £11,000 net to install, inspect and remove the fencing, which had been hired for four weeks in response to security concerns about non-residents accessing the Owens Park site.
Students said the fences, placed between buildings, blocked off some entry and exit points and left them feeling trapped.
Third-year drama student Billie Harvey-Munro has criticised the lack of communication over the fencing.
“There’s been no transparency whatsoever. Students weren’t warned,” said Ms Harvey-Munro, who is part of a campaign group Student Action for a Fair and Educated Response.
“You have a bunch of first-year students who are scared about the current crisis anyway.
“I think it really demonstrates to us how little the university had prioritised students at this time.”
The university initially insisted it had written to students informing them about the construction, but has since acknowledged work began “ahead of the message being seen”.
In a statement, the university’s president and vice-chancellor Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell said the fencing was not meant to cause distress, nor prevent students from entering or exiting the site.
Under the new lockdown rules in England, university students have been told not to move back and forward between their permanent and student homes during term time. The government says they should only return home at the end of term.