As the University for Sustainability and Social Justice, the continued health, welfare and safety of our students, staff and global community is our number one priority as the world tackles the challenges brought about by the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19).
The frequently asked questions below are designed to provide answers to the most common questions our current and future students and staff may have. The University is currently responding to the Government’s ‘lockdown’. Only critical on-site services will now be open until further notice and we will continue to follow the latest Government advice.
Please visit the NHS website for full information about coronavirus, including answers to common questions.
Do I need to continue paying my rent for University accommodation?
We are putting in place a £3.4 million fund to support those students living in University accommodation. This means no rent will be charged from 27 March onwards for those who have returned home and are no longer in their University accommodation. The fund is also covering a 50% discount for those who have had to stay in University accommodation for this period and for the remainder of their contract. Students who are impacted by this will be written to directly by the Housing Team with full details. We are also working with national bodies to call on private providers to do what they can to support those students who have private accommodation contracts outside the immediate control of the University.
We believe it was important to take time to make the right decision that is in the best interest of students and the whole University community – thank you for bearing with us. As you know, we always seek to do the best by our students.
We have offered accommodation to the NHS who are currently identifying their needs. While many rooms are available now, at least 500 rooms still have students’ belongings in them. We will be in contact with these students about helping them to deal with any items remaining in their rooms in order to make space for key workers.
We once again thank our amazing students and staff for your commitment, hard work and agility in the face of the huge shock wave we all face from Covid-19. We have been so impressed with the way students and staff have rapidly adapted to a new way of learning and working, and all at the same time as dealing with the pressures, anxieties and complexities the lockdown has presented for us all.
We are and will continue to do all we can to make this transition as smooth as possible – we are with you all the way.
What is the University doing about coronavirus?
The University continues to act on the latest advice from Government. Our Senior Management Team are meeting daily and we are communicating after each meeting with our students and staff. All students and staff should be checking the intranet regularly for the latest information, updates and support.
Measures we have taken to follow the latest Government advice include only opening critical on-site services, offering other support remotely, moving all face-to-face teaching and assessments for the rest of the academic year online and postponing, cancelling all public events hosted at the University until at least the end of April and supporting our students with accommodation (see above for more information).
Is the University open?
The University is operating but the campus is on lockdown. All teaching is now online. Only critical on-site services, including Security and the Food Hall (takeaway only) are open on campus. All teaching and assessment for the rest of the academic year is now happening online and support departments including Student Services and Chaplaincy are now supporting students via a variety of virtual tools as applicable.
Can I remain in my University-managed accommodation?
The current Government position is that if students are still in their University accommodation, they should stay there. If you are living in any of our accommodation, please do not worry, we will continue to accomodate you and provide catering and online Student Services support.
All students living in University accommodation should follow the Government advice in staying in their accommodation unless engaged in one of the permitted activities.
If you are remaining in your accommodation, in order to support you during this difficult time, we are reducing your rent by 50% from 27 March onwards for the remainder of your contract. The Housing Team will be in touch with you directly with more information on this.
Information and guidance about coronavirus
Where can I find the latest guidance about coronavirus?
Staff and students are asked to continue to regularly check the intranet for daily updates from the University Senior Management Team.The latest NHS advice for everyone on coronavirus can be found here. Everyone should be staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Impact on students and staff including education and self-isolation
I'm a student or staff member and I'm concerned I may have coronavirus. What do I need to do?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), you should self-isolate and use the online NHS 111 coronavirus service.
Students or staff who are self-isolating because they or anyone in their household has symptoms (however mild) of coronavirus should also email email@example.com . Staff should also inform their line manager.
What should I do if I believe I am particularly vulnerable?
If you are contacted by the NHS to inform you that you may be at high risk from coronavirus, please ensure you follow all advice on not leaving your house.
If you are a member of staff and are able to continue to work from home, please do so if you are well enough to do so. If you are not well enough, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a student. What is happening with teaching, examinations and assessments?
All teaching is now happening online and all exams have been converted into assessments that can be conducted virtually. An assessment extension of two weeks has been issued to students for any assignments due after 18 March 2020 and due in before the end of the normal May assessment period. More information for students and staff is available via the intranet.
Exams will not be happening in the normal May assessment period.
I am a student and I have been ill with coronavirus symptoms or have had caring responsibilities linked to coronavirus. Do I need evidence to submit with an extenuating circumstances application?
No. We have amended our Extenuating Circumstances policy and form in light of the current coronavirus situation, extending the list of valid extenuating circumstances and changing the requirements around evidence required.
I am a staff member and I am self-isolating: what happens about my pay?
This will be treated as working from home or, if this is not feasible, as special discretionary leave and therefore you will be paid as normal. It is expected that if you are in a job role where it is feasible for you to work from home you do so. For more information for staff, please see our forthcoming policy on working arrangements under the constraints caused by Covid-19.
I am a casual member of staff and I am self-isolating: what happens about my pay?
The University will honour payments for any hours you have already been asked to work which fall during the period of self-isolation.
I’m a staff member. I have been diagnosed with coronavirus: will this affect my pay?
This will count as sickness under the Sickness Absence Procedure Policy and normal sickness entitlement will therefore apply.
As a staff member, I have a suspected or diagnosed case of coronavirus but cannot get a GP fit note to confirm that I have been signed off sick.
A GP Fit note is normally required on the eighth day of sickness absence. If it is not available under current circumstances, we will process the absence and sickness entitlement as normal without it.
I am not able to work due to childcare/caring responsibilities linked to coronavirus,for example my child's school closure is impacting my abilities to work or I am caring for someone with coronavirus.
Please discuss this with your line manager and see our forthcoming Policy on working arrangements under the constraints caused by COVID-19 for the latest information.
How are finance functions such as payroll, payments or research accounts affected?
Services are continuing as usual, despite staff working remotely. We are keeping the situation under review, and any changes to current arrangements will be communicated as appropriate.
What should I do if I feel subject to racial or xenophobic harassment due to coronavirus?
The University will never tolerate any instances of racial harassment or xenophobia. Please report any incidents of racial harassment or xenophobia to our Security team on 01962 827666 who are able to give you 24/7 support.
Advice on travel and international student affairs
Can I travel during this time?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide until at least 15 April. See the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website for the latest information.
I am an international student and have concerns about my visa. What should I do?
For international students, visas have been extended to 31 May 2020. You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to advise them of your situation.
Advice for applicants and offer-holders
Those applying for an undergraduate course
I am concerned about my application because of school closures and cancelled exams. What can you tell me?
We are monitoring the situation closely and doing as much as we can by liaising with the relevant organisations (including schools and examination boards). In light of cancellations to GCSE and A-Level exams, we are reviewing what this means for our admissions processes, working on a best way forward for applicants and offer holders. If you are an offer holder and believe that other extenuating circumstances (not relating to coronavirus) apply to you then, as normal, please get in touch with the Admissions Team.
I am applying for a course that requires an interview. Will I still be able to interview?
Our Admissions Team are running interviews virtually, so you will still be able to interview for your course if needed.
Those applying for a postgraduate course
I cannot complete my undergraduate course and/or provide my final transcript because my education has been disrupted (e.g. due to self-isolation) or my university has closed. What do I do?
If you are successful with your application and offered a place on a course by the academic department, you will normally be set a condition of achieving your qualification with a minimum score and providing a final transcript by a specified date (if you have not already completed your current degree). The deadline may vary by department, but, for entry in September 2020, will normally be in the UK summer period. If you will be unable to get your final transcript by the date the academic department specifies or the completion of your current course will be delayed, please contact the academic department via the contact details on the course page, and the University will provide further guidance on how to proceed.
I cannot book an English language test because test centres are currently closed. What do I do?
If you are successful with your application and offered a place on a course by the academic department, you will be set a condition of achieving the required English language score by a specified date (if you have not already met this requirement). The deadline may vary by department, but, for entry in September 2020, will normally be in the UK summer period, so there is still time. The situation will be monitored and, if it becomes likely that language test centres will not be re-opened in time, the University will provide further guidance on how to proceed.