Public Health England (PHE) has said there are Covid-19 outbreaks at nearly 70 universities, Michelle Donelan told parliament on Monday.
Her comments came after an MP brought up her Education Select Committee appearance last week, during which Ms Donelan did not have a figure for how many students were “in lockdown”.
“Around 9,000 students currently have Covid,” the UK universities minister said on Monday. “This is the data which has been sent to us by universities.”
Ms Donelan added: “It is cumulative number of cases over the last seven days and is based on a student population of about two million.”
Coronavirus outbreaks have been seen at universities across the UK since the autumn term started, with thousands of students being forced to self-isolate.
PHE have told the government there are outbreaks at 68 universities, Ms Donelan said on Monday.
“We then go back to those unis to ascertain that data and as of next week we will have a new data regime working with the OfS (Office for Students) that will be much more transparent,” she added.
Some universities publish the number of coronavirus cases among their student and staff population online, including the University of Manchester – where more than 1,500 positive cases among students and staff have been reported since late September – and the University of Nottingham, where there were around 1,500 active coronavirus cases last week.
Hundreds of cases have also been reported at the University of Sheffield, Northumbria University and Newcastle University since students returned.
The University of Bristol told hundreds of students to self-isolate last week after 40 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the same halls of residence.
More than one thousand residents in two halls at Manchester Metropolitan University were told to self-isolate last month following a spike in cases at accomodation blocks.
Additional reporting by Press Association