Aberdeen University: Principal issues apology after breaking lockdown rules

The principal of Aberdeen University has apologised to students after breaking lockdown rules while on a trip to Wales.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 7:56 am

According to the Press and Journal, Professor George Boyne made the visit over the weekend for a “private health matter,” before staying at his Welsh family home - currently occupied by his son.

University officials have launched an investigation into the 480-mile journey, which Prof Boyne said he has “since learned” might not be “in line with local guidance.”

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He said Welsh police had confirmed that no action would be taken over the matter.

Professor George Boyne (left) made the visit over the weekend for a “private health matter,” before staying at his Welsh family home - currently occupied by his son. (Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Professor George Boyne (left) made the visit over the weekend for a “private health matter,” before staying at his Welsh family home - currently occupied by his son. (Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In an apology to students and staff, Mr Boyne wrote at 5pm last night: “On Friday I travelled down to Wales for a private health matter, to see a consultant I have been seeing for some time.

“For the purposes of the visit I have been staying at our house in Wales which is occupied by our son.

“As I have reduced immunity, it felt like the safest option to be in our house, rather than in a hotel.

“It has been suggested to me that this may be not be in line with local guidance.

Students at Aberdeen University face “robust action” from officials for breaking its Covid-19 guidelines, including fines of up to £250.

“I have checked the position with South Wales Police and have been advised that they will not be taking any action.

“However I sincerely apologise for any concern this may cause. I have informed the Senior Governor of the University of Aberdeen.”

Esther Roberton, senior governor of the university, told students in an email accompanying Prof Boyne’s apology that: ““The principal has informed me of this matter and I will take advice and consult with fellow trustees to consider the full implications of his actions.”

His apology comes after thousands of students across Scotland and the UK were told to self-isolate in their university accommodation amid a spike in campus Covid-19 cases.

At the Hillhead student village in Aberdeen, dozens of students are still locked down to prevent a cluster there from growing.

Students at the university face “robust action” from officials for breaking its Covid-19 guidelines, including fines of up to £250.

Martin Le Brech, Chair of Aberdeen University Labour Students, told the student newspaper, The Gaudie, that Prof Boyne’s apology was not enough.

"Over the past two weeks, the University has put enormous pressure on students, whether it is through outrageously expensive food parcels offered to locked down freshers' in Hillhead or the recent threats of expulsion from our flats and from the University if we were to break the rules,” he said.

"And now that Principal Boyne broke the rules himself, it really seems like it's one rule for him and another one for the rest of us.

“I hope the University will listen and take a softer approach to how it treats the student community and puts meaningful efforts in making sure our experience this year is somewhat acceptable.

“Because it isn't the case so far.

"We need proper mental health services, total transparency as to what is done by the management as well as a University ready to listen to the concerns of all of us students."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We note the University of Aberdeen is proposing to discuss this issue with the Principal and that is the correct course of action.”

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