Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for students - 14 April 2021
Yesterday the Government announced the details of the further lifting of the national lockdown restrictions which apply to universities. I have also attached a letter from the Minister for Universities which we’ve been asked to circulate to our student community.
Along with all universities we had hoped that we would be able to welcome all remaining students back to our campuses for limited in-person activities shortly after Easter. However this announcement stipulates that further return will not be permitted before 17 May at the earliest.
This will be very disappointing to many of you. We know how hard everyone in our community has worked to ensure we can keep each other and those around us safe throughout this academic year, and we know how desperately our students want to be able to return to take up in-person activities.
Please note that this announcement does not change any current arrangements for students who have already returned under the Government guidelines, as we have previously communicated. It does however mean that no further students will be eligible to return until after 17 May at the earliest.
It remains the case that those students who require additional support, including those with mental health issues, may return to university sooner in order to access study spaces and support.
The Government’s decision as to whether further students will be able to return to in-person activities after 17 May will be based on the data, including on infection levels, testing rates and the uptake of vaccinations. It remains imperative that we all continue to follow the Government guidelines, abide by the COVID-19 hygiene measures, engage with the vaccination programme when we are invited to and continue to engage with regular COVID-19 testing.
The Summer Term will still begin as planned on 26 April and the examinations period will proceed as planned, with exams being held online. If you started your studies in January 2021, please continue to refer to your timetable for details of your teaching arrangements. Undergraduate and postgraduate taught students should not plan to return to campus before the beginning of term.
The Government announcement states that, “students who have returned to higher education settings should not move back and forward between their permanent home and student home during term time unless they meet one of the exemptions”.
The announcement also says that “Students returning to university should undertake three supervised tests at an on-site test facility” before resuming regular, twice-weekly testing, either using home test kits or at an on-site facility. Details of how to book your on-site tests are on our COVID-19 webpages.
Please note that in line with the further easing of national restrictions on 29 March and 12 April, a small number of additional facilities and activities have been able to restart, including some limited sports activities. You can find a list of available shops, facilities and activities for each campus on our COVID-19 website.
Our COVID-19 secure and educational Festival of Discovery is planned for 24 May – 4 June when, subject to Government guidance, we will stage a fortnight of events with opportunities for you to discover more about your University and our community. The Festival will give you a chance to re-engage with your study through a programme of academic activities and we are working closely with the Students' Guild and Students’ Union to provide a range of social events offering something for everyone.
It remains vital that everyone who is undertaking in-person activities or using facilities on our campuses book free twice-weekly tests. If you are coming to campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come. Please visit the COVID-19 webpages for further information and booking forms.
For those in University or FX Plus accommodation, or whose accommodation contracts were arranged through the University with a nominated partner, our policy remains that you need only pay for your room from the time you return to live in it.
I would like to remind all students that if you are suffering additional financial burdens then support is available via the ‘Success for All’ Hardship Fund. Please reach out for support and apply to the fund if you need to.
I hope you are enjoying some rest and relaxation over the Easter break and I wish you the very best as you prepare for any forthcoming assessments.
Registrar and Secretary