Students have been left furious after Aberystwyth University announced it would be suspending in-person lessons just one day before the semester was due to begin.

The decision came after the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the school community over the weekend.

In a statement on Sunday evening the university said: "Following further discussions this evening with local partners regarding the escalating risk of Covid-19 transmission, we have taken the decision to suspend in-person teaching temporarily.

"This has been a difficult call which is partly driven by uncertainty surrounding the scale of spread within our community."

But students said the last minute decision had cost them hundreds of pounds and left them "locked down" in student accommodation.

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Aberystwyth University

Undergraduate student Sam Hall said he had been told all summer by the university that a mixture of online and in person teaching would be offered.

He said he could have saved money on accommodation had he known lessons would be conducted online, and that being told of the decision late on Sunday was "a bit of a kick in the teeth".

"If I didn't like my flatmates, I probably would have gone home by now," he said.

The 21-year-old, who moved into student halls for the semester from Salford, England, said the change in plans meant students were now "effectively locked down in student accommodation".

"Now that official [student union] activities are suspended, I can see an imminent crisis in student mental health as we are effectively locked down in student accommodation," he said.

"We're being charged £9,000 for the pleasure plus £1,300 per term in accommodation fees.

"I probably won't have a reason to leave the flat that's not purely functional for most of this week. My world essentially shrinks to the size of my 4m by 5m room."

Student Sam Hall, 21, of Salford

Sophie Marie Barriball, a second year law student, said she too could have stayed at home with family had the decision been made sooner.

The 19-year-old said: "The fact is, a lot of us students could have stayed with families for the time being to save a month or two on rent and just to have a safe space.

"Of course, Aberystwyth in itself is safe but now students haven't really got anywhere to go apart from just staying in their rooms - that's hardly a uni life that any student wants."

Sophie Marie Barriball, 19

Adding to her frustration, she said the university has denied students access to study areas on campus.

"Where I am staying, I find it hard to concentrate and get any work done due to the resources that I have and the environment which I am in.

"I heavily rely on study areas to get work done so this is rather upsetting to know that I cannot use these facilities."

Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson for Aberystwyth University said: “Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community here in Aberystwyth.

"We held detailed discussions with Ceredigion County Council over the weekend in light of new information about levels of transmission locally. The decision to temporarily suspend in-person teaching was a difficult call, but is a precautionary measure while we work with other partners to ascertain the scale of transmission locally, and we will review the position at the end of this week.

“We recognise this is a difficult and unprecedented time for students, and we have a range of support services available to help them.

They added: "Our teaching is continuing online for the time being, and we will be making further assessments of how to proceed with our plans to teach in person as further information is available to us.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly in close collaboration with local, regional and national agencies.”

They said a range of measures were in place to ensure the safety of students, including 2m social distancing and the use of face coverings when in buildings and communal areas of student accommodation.