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Returning to University - Student Travel Advice

Student travel advice

Last updated - 26 April 2021

Full UK Government guidance on safe travel during the coronavirus outbreak is available within their dedicated pages. The Government has announced the details of the further lifting of the national lockdown restrictions, which stipulates that no further students will be eligible to return to universities until after 17 May at the earliest.

Some face-to-face teaching is already taking place for students on programmes that require specialist facilities. Please note that this announcement does not change any current arrangements for students who have already returned under the Government guidelines.

Those who do not have on-campus teaching sessions scheduled should not return, unless they have exceptional reasons to do so. Students who are already at the University should remain in place and not travel away.

Students may return to University in order to access study spaces and support if they are:

  • International students who have remained in the UK, or those who have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation
  • Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation
  • Students who have remained in their university accommodation over the spring break
  • Those requiring additional support, including those with mental health issues

Check MyTimetable for your in-person teaching start date. Once you have confirmation of this, you can plan your return to your term-time accommodation, or start planning your commute to and from campus.

Please read the information below on how to stay safe when travelling and how to book your regular rapid COVID-19 tests when you arrive. We also have some frequently asked questions on student travel at the bottom of this page.

Are you travelling from overseas?

Visit our dedicated webpage for detailed information about international travel.

Using Public Transport

When you receive confirmation of the start date for your in-person teaching, available in MyTimetable, you may use public transport to return to your term-time accommodation or commute to and from campus.

There are a few key things to remember:

  • Plan ahead and allow more time for your journey
  • Wear a face covering, unless you are exempt. It is important you wear them for the entirety of your journey, whether inside a bus or train station, and when travelling on public transport. You can find information on the face coverings we provide in our FAQs.
  • Social distance where possible
  • Wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • Be considerate to fellow passengers and staff
  • Download the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel

In Cornwall, First Bus has increased the frequency of its service at peak times. In Exeter, the Stagecoach Uni bus timetable can be viewed on the Stagecoach website. The St David’s train station shuttle service is in operation; please visit the Transport website for more information on buses and shuttle buses.

Travelling by car

If you plan to return to your term-time accommodation in a car, please only travel with members of your current household or the household you are going to join - to decrease the risk of transmission to others.

  • Only car share with members of your current household, the household you are going to join or support bubble
  • If you have to share a car with someone outside of your household or support bubble, you should open the windows, wear a face covering, unless you are exempt, and leave seats free to social distance wherever possible

Remember we do not permit students to park on our campuses unless they have special permission and the correct permit. Further information about this is available on our websites for Exeter and for Cornwall

Book your COVID-19 tests

A key element of the safe return to campus is ensuring everyone gets regular, free tests for COVID-19. Each test is quick and easy, taking no longer than 15 minutes. We advise all students to get a test on return to your term-time accommodation, then a follow up test three days afterwards. From that point we ask all students to take a rapid COVID-19 test twice a week, every week. Find out more and book in advance on our dedicated testing webpages

Ongoing testing enables us to spot positive cases quickly and ensure everyone can live together safely, so please get regular tests to protect one another and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing it. LFD tests can detect the virus in people without symptoms and enable them to self-isolate quicker, helping to break the line of transmission.

The more people that get tested, the better we can mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 to ensure we can continue with on campus activities, and to help protect our whole community.

Frequently asked questions

See below frequently asked questions on travelling to your term-time accommodation:

The exact date that your in-person teaching will resume will show on MyTimetable. Please make sure you refresh MyTimetable regularly and read the weekly Registrar communications to keep up to date with any new information.

Please stay where you are and continue to study online, until shortly before your in-person teaching resumes. This will help facilitate a smooth process for students returning to campus.

Students who are already at the University should remain in place and not travel away.

You can, of course, return to University and campus if you:

  • Are an international student who has remained in the UK, or you have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation
  • Do not have access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your vacation accommodation
  • Have remained in your term-time accommodation over the winter break
  • Require additional support, including support with mental health issues 

Government advice states you must not travel at all if you:

  • have been told by the NHS Test and Trace service to self-isolate
  • are experiencing any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
  • are self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms

Consider how you will travel back home in a way that protects others, should you test positive:

  • If possible, walk, cycle or drive in a private vehicle alone to the test site.
  • Before individuals get tested, they should make sure they have arrangements in place to travel home safely in the event they test positive. They should walk, cycle or drive wherever possible.
  • If driving, they should try to be the only person in the vehicle, but can share a car with their household or support bubble if necessary. They should open windows, wear a face covering and sit far away from others if sharing a car.
  • Individuals should plan their journey ahead in the event they test positive, and should not use public transport or a taxi or private hire vehicle to return home.

In self-catered accommodation your standard or ensuite flat will be considered a household. One studio flat will also be considered its own household.

In catered residences, individual rooms on a floor with other bedrooms which share a communal facility such as a utility area, will be made into a household. There will be signage in place which will detail the size of your household.

For students in Exeter based Halls of Residence, to check who is classed as being in your household contact

For students in Cornwall based Halls of Residence, your household will usually be your flat of 6 or 7 individuals sharing a communal kitchen. Contact with any queries.

If you live alone, for example in a studio, you can form a support bubble with one other household of any size. Households in a support bubble can visit each other, stay overnight and visit outdoor public places together.

You won’t need to keep the 2m social distance when you are within your household or support bubble. However you will need to socially distance when you go out. This includes social and communal space within the building you live in where students from other households are present.

It’s really important to continue to practise good hygiene, such as regular hand washing. Hand sanitiser units will be available across the site at entrances and exits to most buildings, including residences.

We will provide guidance on which bathrooms and/or utility spaces and kitchens are available to your household.

If someone in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19, the whole household must isolate whilst a test is undertaken. You must let us know by contacting the Rapid Response Hub. This will ensure that we can provide the support you need during your isolation. You will still be able to socialise within your household.


Where it is safe and practicable we will support your decision to attend an in-country placement whether that be for study or work abroad. We have published the answers to a range of frequently asked questions on our Go Abroad webpages. Please review the information available on these webpages as we continue to provide further updates and guidance.


We are monitoring updates on coronavirus closely and will continue to provide as much advice, care and support as we can to our University community, in advance of you arriving to campus.

For any queries concerning your exchange, please contact

If you usually live locally to University in Exeter or Penryn, you can commute to University during lockdown to undertake training and study for the subject areas that have been approved by the Government for face-to-face learning.

You should still get tested before coming to campus for the first time. Book two tests, three days apart, before coming onto campus or attending your placement. Visit our Testing Pages for details. Local students who do not study one of the subject areas with in-person teaching taking place should continue to study online from home during the period of national lockdown.

We offer free, rapid and regular ongoing twice-weekly testing for all students who are studying on campus. We recommend that you book two tests, every week – this will help us protect our University community and allow us to manage any infection and subsequent transmission.

Tests are the Government approved Innova Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests using a nose and throat swab. Find out more on our dedicated testing webpages

If you need to self-isolate, please see our 'information for students who are self-isolating' webpage for frequently asked questions and information.

Please do not be worried, the support teams and your College will be on hand to make sure this does not affect your studies and University experience.

We have published full information on the steps you will need to complete and the support available for periods of self-isolation, including academic support, staying connected and accessing supplies during self-isolation, on our webpages

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, though this should be less severe. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have received a positive test result, you should still self-isolate even if you have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine. This will reduce the risk of spreading infection and help to protect other people.

Although the COVID-19 vaccinations can offer significant protection from the disease, we do not yet know whether taking the vaccine will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. Once you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, you will therefore still need to follow the Government guidance on COVID-19 safety. To continue to protect yourself and your community you should continue to:

You should also adhere to University rules about Coming to Campus.

It can take several weeks for the vaccine to offer maximum protection from COVID-19. Furthermore, we don’t yet know whether individuals who have been vaccinated could still transmit COVID-19 disease to others. Therefore, any student or staff member currently using our campuses should to continue to get tested twice per week. Book your tests through our testing pages for students or staff.

Yes. It can take several weeks for the vaccine to offer maximum protection from COVID-19. Furthermore, we don’t yet know whether individuals who have been vaccinated could still transmit COVID-19 disease to others. Therefore, any student or staff member currently using our campuses should to continue to get tested twice per week. Continue to book your tests through our testing pages for students or staff as appropriate.

No. Please do not return to campus if anyone in your household has any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of teste/smell) or has tested positive for COVID-19. You are required to complete 10 days in self-isolation from the date anyone in your household returns a positive test result. Even if you test negative for COVID-19 yourself, you must not travel until you have completed this ten day period in self-isolation. If you subsequently develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when symptoms start.

If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 while you are away from University, please seek a test through the relevant provider where you are located. If you are within the UK please use the Government testing service.

Once you have completed your time in self-isolation, you may return to campus - paying careful attention to safe travel guidance and the restrictions in your local area.

If you are travelling from an area which is undergoing surge testing, different public health guidance applies and you should therefore get tested before returning to University. Surge testing is conducted in parts of the country where new ‘variants of concern’ of COVID-19 have been discovered, so enhanced testing is using to help stop these variants spreading around the country. Do not return to University until you have been tested and received a negative result.