COVID cases are expected to rise across city region universities as thousands of students return to campuses over the next few weeks.

But the University of Bolton - with more local students - is expected to dodge the worst of the problem.

The university will welcome around 2,200 new students - but the vast majority will be living in Bolton and surrounding areas, not arriving from all over the UK.

A university spokesman said the campus is a ‘very safe’ environment and that government guidelines are being followed – although some have been relaxed.

Students will have a choice as to whether or not they wear face coverings when mixing with others, but the university hopes they will choose to do so.

Temperature scanners, a one-way system and a track and trace programme will also remain in place on campus, according to the university spokesman.

The university continues to campaign to encourage staff and students to be double jabbed.

A vaccination bus will be on campus this Thursday and Friday and at the start of next week to make this as easy and convenient as possible.

The spokesman added: “Unlike a lot of the region’s larger universities many of our students are local and already live here and in the surrounding areas.

“As a result, we do not have to move a lot of students around the country.

“While we remain concerned about the national pandemic situation, which poses a serious risk to public health, it is difficult to see how the University of Bolton would compound the situation with all the measures we still have in place. It is a very safe environment on campus.”

New full-time students at Bolton will be enrolled this week and induction activities will take place, including Freshers’ Fest events.

The first week of teaching will start next Monday.