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