27 students in Belfast suspended over suspected coronavirus breaches

27 students in Belfast suspended over suspected coronavirus breaches
There is concern over the potential for university students to hold house parties (Rebecca Black/PA)

A total of 27 Queen’s University students have been suspended from courses over suspected breaches of coronavirus regulations in Belfast, minister Diane Dodds has said.

If the university receives notification from the PSNI, then students will be suspended with immediate effect for 14 days.

The minister responsible for higher education said failure to follow the rules could have significant repercussions for students in medical subjects and may trigger fitness-to-practise issues.

Diane Dodds said coronavirus breaches could trigger fitness-to-practise issues for those pursuing medical careers (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

Mrs Dodds said: “It might seem like fun now but it could have dreadful health consequences for those you love and it could have consequences for your later life.”

She briefed Stormont’s Economy Committee on Wednesday.

Police have handed out dozens of fines for coronavirus breaches after breaking up house parties in the Holyland area of Belfast.

The university said there were potential consequences if the rules were not followed as it begins the new academic year.

It added: “Students who disregard public health guidelines and host, or attend, large gatherings are not only risking their own health, and that of friends and family, but also face the possibility of substantial penalties.

“Given this context, we are required to take a rigorous and stringent approach to the application of disciplinary measures and these include significant fines, suspension from your course and potential expulsion from the university.”

The institution added: “For students in professional subjects such as medicine and nursing, it is also important to understand that such breaches may trigger fitness-to-practise procedures for their future profession.

“This emphasises the importance of a responsible approach, which is in your best interests, both now and in the future.”

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