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COVID-19 update for students - 10 December 2021

Dear Students,

Key points

  • Guidance for clinically vulnerable students states that shielding is not a requirement due to the successful vaccine rollout.
  • Face coverings – updated guidance.
  • Advice for Postgraduate Research Students.
  • Self-isolation rules currently remain the same for the Omicron variant.
  • Planning continues for in-person teaching in the new term.
  • Examinations will take place as planned
  • Graduation will continue as planned.

I am writing to you with an update following the Government announcement on Wednesday that COVID-19 Plan B measures are being introduced in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

In addition to the measures announced by the Prime Minister, we have now received specific guidance for Higher Education, and this is outlined in detail below.

We are continuing to review our measures and will update you with any changes as soon as possible. Please look after yourselves and each other, and if you need any support, please visit our wellbeing support pages.

Advice for clinically vulnerable individuals

Due to the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, anyone who is vulnerable, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), and high or higher risk is not being advised to shield again. There may be some circumstances where individuals have received personal advice on additional precautions from their doctor – if this applies to you, you should continue to follow that advice.

Face-coverings update

From today, Friday 10 December, face coverings are a legal requirement in most indoor settings.  Unless exempt, all staff and students must wear a face covering in shared spaces inside all buildings including all teaching rooms, laboratories, meeting rooms, libraries, study spaces, marquees and communal areas. You will also be required to wear a face covering in communal areas in student accommodation - receptions, laundries, utility rooms, and in areas including sport centre reception areas, changing rooms and spectator areas. Face coverings do not need to be worn when outdoors. Please use a re-usable face covering. If you forget or lose your covering, you can collect a disposable face covering from the stations around our campuses.

Postgraduate research students

Where postgraduate research students are able to work from home, we encourage them to do so. However, research facilities and (shared) offices will continue to be available for postgraduate research students.

Changes to self-isolation rules

Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status and age, will continue to be required to self-isolate and asked to book a PCR test. You will be informed by the local Health Protection Team or NHS Test and Trace if you fall into this category and will be provided with details about your self-isolation. If you are contacted, please report this to the Rapid Response Hub.

The Government is planning to introduce daily testing as an alternative to self-isolation for contacts of positive Omicron cases who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 years and 6 months. We await further detail on the planned introduction of this alternative and will update colleagues as soon as possible.

Winter Graduation update

Our Winter Graduation ceremonies are going ahead today and I would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of these. We have introduced further measures to ensure these ceremonies can take place, safely, as planned, including the new instruction that graduates are now required to keep their face covering on at all times, including whilst crossing the stage to greet the Vice-Chancellor.

Regular testing must continue

You should continue to LFD test twice a week, every week at home, using your home testing kits. Please test before you travel and please continue to test regularly over the winter break. You can still collect a kit at one of the campus collection points or from our pop up collection point in the Forum, Streatham Campus. If you receive a positive LFD test result, you should self-isolate and take a free PCR test – you can do this at our campus test centres until Thursday 23 December (reopening 4 January), or using delivery of PCR tests within a five mile radius of Penryn Campus. You can also order one online via the Government website or book to attend an NHS testing centre. You must continue to self-isolate whilst you wait for your PCR test result.

Please ensure you let us know your results via our online results form:

If your result is negative, you’re free to come out of self-isolation. If you are positive, you will need to continue self-isolating for 10 days.

It is very important that test results are reported online to NHS Test and Trace whether positive, negative or void. Reporting results helps the NHS monitor the spread of the virus, combat the virus and save lives.

Returning to University in January

We continue to plan for the start of Term 2 and the continuation of in-person teaching on our campuses. We are not expecting an additional Government update or review of measures until 5 January 2022, however, should guidance change during the winter break, we will update students and colleagues as quickly as possible via the channels outlined below.


Exams and formal assessments will go ahead as planned in January as they are currently timetabled and you should continue to prepare for these. If you have an exam scheduled on campus, please wear your face covering in shared indoor spaces and make sure to dress in warm clothing as windows will be open in exam rooms to allow for proper ventilation.

We will continue to monitor any changes to guidance over the winter break and update colleagues and students before the start of term where required via email, and if necessary using our emergency text system (SafeZone) to advise that an update has been circulated.

Financial support for students returning to University from overseas

Students who are returning to University from overseas and are concerned about the financial costs of the required PCR tests, are able to access our University Success For All fund. All registered Undergraduate and Postgraduate University of Exeter students are eligible to apply, irrespective of fee-status. More information, including how to apply can be found on our website.

Please ensure you check the travel rules carefully before planning your return trip, details of the current requirements can be found on our travel website.

COVID-19 vaccines certification for international students

From Wednesday 15 December, you will need an NHS COVID Pass - or a negative lateral flow test - to gain entry to nightclubs and a number of other large indoor venues. Anyone wishing to attend these venues will be required to provide proof that they have received two doses of a recognised vaccine or have a recent negative LFD test, by using the NHS COVID Pass. International students will be able to certify your vaccination status by showing your COVID status and a photo identification, for example your passport, matching the country in which you were vaccinated. More information for anyone who has been vaccinated overseas, can be found on the Government website.

Further information

If you are remaining on our campuses over the winter break, you can find out what services and facilities are open on our website – Exeter and Cornwall.

We must continue working together to protect our University community, as well as our friends and families. Please abide by the measures outline above and if you have any concerns, speak to your line manager.

Further updates will be available via the Weekly Bulletin and I will email again following any changes or updates to the guidance.

Information is also available on our COVID-19 website.


Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary