Young people have been made scapegoats for the pandemic, a students' union has said.
Ulster University Students' Union president Collette Cassidy made the claim after St Patrick's Day passed off without major incident.
She said that students were still being singled out despite the vast majority sticking to the guidelines around Covid-19.
"(St Patrick's Day) clearly proved how the student body is adhering to the guidelines - and has been from day one," Ms Cassidy added.
"Isolated incidents have been blown out of proportion and have been consistently pushed out throughout the year.
"Our student body is going out and protecting society, helping our economy by working on the front line in hospitals, healthcare settings and essential retail.
"That is the narrative that needs to be coming out around students."
Ms Cassidy stressed that a large number of students were balancing working with studying and home life.
"It's important to remember our students aren't just between the ages of 18 and 25. We have a wide range of students from different demographics," she said.
"Every part of society has broken the regulations at some point. The blame shouldn't just be on students. Everyone has a role to play. The majority of our students are a credit."
Ms Cassidy spoke out after feared street parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast failed to materialise.
While large crowds of young people gathered in Botanic Gardens, leading to the park being cleared and closed by police, there was no repeat of the scenes normally associated with St Patrick's Day.
Last year's celebrations, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, were also low-key.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said that police attended nine residential properties in the Holyland area, issuing 47 £200 fines and eight prohibition notices for holding gatherings in private dwellings. Two people were also reported to the Public Prosecution Service.
Across Northern Ireland, police attended reports of groups gathering and incidents of anti-social behaviour and seized alcohol from young people. A preliminary total of 135 enforcement notices were issued.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw paid tribute to Belfast City Council staff and university representatives "for their measured effort and approach that resulted in minimal disruption for local residents".
"The large numbers of young people gathering in Botanic Gardens was predictable, given the students were off classes," she said.
"I am pleased that the PSNI was able to disperse this crowd. Thankfully, this dispersement did not result in large numbers of house parties.
Police said the "vast majority of people across Northern Ireland" followed the public health guidance around Covid-19 on St Patrick's Day.