October 2020

2020/21 at University College Birmingham

Updates and FAQs on coronavirus (Covid-19), our safety policies and information on study and support services for 2020/21

Read time: approx 26 mins

We know these are truly extraordinary times right now. Here at University College Birmingham, we are dedicated to ensuring that nothing can stop you from achieving your ambitions and fulfilling your future.

Over the last year, we have worked very hard to adapt our campuses and our teaching and support services in order to secure your health and safety while making sure you have the best possible experience studying with us.

University College Birmingham continues to closely monitor the latest advice and guidance from the UK government and relevant authorities, including Public Health England (PHE), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This page is being regularly updated and contains a range of information and frequently asked questions concerning our current policies and what you can expect studying with us this year, helping to ensure everyone stays as informed and as safe as possible.

Page last updated: Friday 8 January (includes advice on latest national lockdown in England)

General information on coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 is an illness which can affect your lungs and airways. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes within 24 hours (if you normally have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you can’t smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different from normal

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, you must not come onto campus. You should stay at home and contact us by email at covid19@ucb.ac.uk as soon as possible. You should also follow the latest NHS guidance on what to do next, including self-isolation and obtaining a test.

Frequently asked questions:

If I have a cough but otherwise feel OK, do I have to self-isolate?

Yes. If your symptoms fit the description of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 10 days from your first symptoms. You can check your symptoms on the NHS website.

You should also book a test. If the test comes back negative, you can then come back to campus. If you test positive, you must complete the self-isolation period.

You should also let us know if you have symptoms, on covid19@ucb.ac.uk

If I receive a positive Covid test but don’t have any symptoms, do I have to self-isolate?

Yes. If you test positive for Covid but are not experiencing any symptoms, you must still self-isolate for 10 days from when you took the test.

If you subsequently develop symptoms while you are self-isolating, you must then restart your 10 days of self-isolation from the day your symptoms started.

If someone I live with has symptoms, do I have to self-isolate?

Yes, for 10 days from when the person you live with first developed symptoms.

The person you live with should self-isolate for 10 days and book a test. If their test result is negative, you can both stop self-isolation. If their result is positive, you both must continue to self-isolate until the end of the 10 day period.

If someone I have been in close contact with has symptoms, do I need to self-isolate?

Only if you share a household or support bubble with the person displaying symptoms. If someone has symptoms but you don’t share a household or support bubble with them, you don’t normally need to self-isolate, but you will need to if the person then tests positive.

If someone I have been in close contact with tests positive, do I need to self-isolate?

Yes, but the rules on what counts as ‘close contact’ can be complicated, so please contact us on covid19@ucb.ac.uk for specific advice.

If NHS Test and Trace has contacted you and told you to self-isolate, you must follow that advice. University College Birmingham will tell you if we believe you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive on our site.

I had symptoms and started self-isolating but now I feel OK again – can I come back to campus?

No. You must complete the self-isolation period unless you have tested negative.

If I have been told to self-isolate because I have been in contact with someone who tested positive, can I be tested?

Probably not, unless you develop symptoms. NHS tests are only supposed to be given to people who are symptomatic.

In any case, even if you have tested negative, you will still have to complete the self-isolation period, as symptoms can develop later and wouldn’t always be picked up by the test.

How is University College Birmingham affected by the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021?

The UK government has announced that as of Tuesday 5 January, England is under a new national ‘Stay at Home’ lockdown in order to control the spread of Covid-19. This will extend until at least mid-February.

Under the latest restrictions, higher education provision is set to remain online only until at least mid-February for all students except those on courses for future critical workers (e.g. nursing, teaching). Colleges remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, with all others learning remotely until the February half term. Our library and IT facilities remain open for use by College and University students who do not have facilities available at home.

The current restrictions in England prevent anyone from having visitors to their household (except for essential maintenance) or meeting socially with members of other households, either indoors or outdoors, unless the households in question have formed a support bubble.

Individuals are however permitted to meet one person from another household for exercise, once per day in a public outdoor place (such as parks or public gardens), provided you remain at least two metres apart at all times.

For full information about the restrictions, please visit the GOV.UK website. For specific details about how this affects our students at University College Birmingham – including guidance for students in accommodation and how campus facilities are affected by the restrictions – please see the relevant sections further down this page.

What if I am classed as ‘Extremely Clinically Vulnerable’?

If you are considered Extremely Clinically Vulnerable (i.e. you have received a letter telling you to shield during the current lockdown) and you have been attending classes on campus, please let us know by contacting covid19@ucb.ac.uk. You are now expected to stay at home.

Coming to campus

Health and safety is our top priority for everyone attending or visiting University College Birmingham, so we have introduced a range of safety measures and guidelines for whenever you come to our campus buildings.

We have many staff and students who are at particularly high risk from coronavirus, so even if you don't feel particularly vulnerable yourself, we need you to act responsibly to protect our whole community.

If you are showing any symptoms or are self-isolating, you must stay at home, book a Covid-19 test and contact the University to inform us of your situation (see General information on coronavirus above).

Frequently asked questions:

How will the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021 affect me coming to campus?

University College Birmingham continues to operate during the current national lockdown, though many facilities on campus will be closed during this time – see more detailed information below.

At this time, you should only come to campus for teaching or exams if your lecturers have confirmed that you should attend in person. Our library and IT facilities are also still available for those who do not have access to a computer or study space at home.

If you use public transport, you may need to plan additional time for your journey should transport become ‘at capacity’ with social distancing measures in place. Please remember to wear a mask (unless exempt) on all public transport.

What safety measures are in place on campus?

Should you need to come onto campus, we have introduced a range of measures to help maintain social distancing across the University. You should adhere to two-metre social distance wherever possible.

A number of one-way systems have been implemented at our campus buildings, with floor plans and signage indicating which directions to follow as well as designated entry and exit points – please ensure you follow these systems at all times and use the correct entrances.

Teaching and IT areas have been arranged to allow for the necessary social distancing. All eating areas are closed.

All lifts across campus have also been marked indicating the maximum capacity. As space within the lifts is limited, please only use a lift if you can’t use the stairs, to ensure that the lift is available for people who really need it.

Visit this page for examples of what to expect when you come onto campus.

Is hand sanitiser provided?

Yes – we have provided hand sanitiser stations throughout our campus sites.

You should wash your hands regularly, especially when entering any building. You can use the hand sanitiser provided or use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Do I need to wear a mask / face covering on campus?

Unless you are exempt, you will be required to wear a mask or face covering in all communal spaces on campus. Higher Education students should also wear a mask during any classroom teaching, unless instructed to remove it for a specific activity. College students may choose whether to wear a mask in the classroom, but must wear masks in all other locations on campus.

Please note that masks are not a replacement for social distancing, so remember to also keep your distance around other people.

What if I am exempt from wearing a mask?

You don't need to wear a mask if you are exempt for health reasons. We will supply you with a card to wear on your lanyard indicating your exempt status.

To apply for an exemption card, please speak to your tutor or year manager and we can arrange one for you.

Do I need to get tested to come onto campus?

For full information about advice on testing and details of our test facilities at University College Birmingham, please see the following pages:

Covid-19 testing on campus: Higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate students)

Covid-19 testing on campus: Further education (college students)

What happens if there are cases on campus?

We have a contact tracing system in place. If you have likely come into contact with someone at University College Birmingham who has tested positive for coronavirus, we will let you know if you need to self-isolate. We will be following guidance from the government and Public Health Birmingham on when to ask groups to self-isolate.

To help us, it is important that you keep your contact details on the Portal up to date so that we can contact you if needed.

Are the library and IT facilities open?

The library at The Link will be available from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. This is for use by students who do not have IT equipment or space to study at home. It is also possible to borrow library books using the click and collect service.

Camden House will also be available during the same hours if you need to use the computers. There will be IT staff on site if you are having any technical problems. Alternatively, you can see phone and online contact details for IT support here.

For more information, please see the Other support services section below.

Are the campus gym facilities open?

In accordance with the national lockdown restrictions, our gym facilities are currently closed. More updates will be provided in due course.

Are the sports injury clinics open?

Our sports injury clinics are currently closed to the public. More updates will be provided in due course.

Is The Spa open?

In accordance with the national lockdown restrictions, The Spa is currently closed. More updates will be provided in due course.

Is Aspire Aesthetics open?

The Aspire Aesthetics clinic at Summer Row is currently closed until further notice.

Is Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food open?

In accordance with the national lockdown restrictions, Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food in Summer Row is currently closed. More updates will be provided in due course.

Is Cakes and Bakes open?

Cakes and Bakes in Summer Row is currently closed. More updates will be provided in due course.

Are campus cafes open?

All eating areas are closed and will remain so while the current national lockdown is in place.

Where can I find more information?

You can view copies of our Health and Safety Guidance and our Health and Safety Risk Assessments here.

Tuition and online learning

Due to the circumstances surrounding coronavirus, we have implemented changes to how our courses are delivered during the 2020/21 academic year.

During the first semester, we used a blended approach combining face-to-face and online teaching, with some of our higher education courses being offered through entirely online delivery for those unable to get to campus.

As a result of the new national lockdown, we are currently reviewing the delivery of courses during semester 2. In the meantime, you should only come to campus for teaching if your lecturers have confirmed you should attend in person. More details will be provided in due course.

Frequently asked questions:

How will teaching and timetables be affected by the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021?

Due to the new restrictions, only some practical subjects will be taught face to face. Please contact your tutor for more information.

Where can I find information about accessing online tuition and resources?

You can access your online tuition through your Canvas page. If you are struggling to access Canvas, please contact your tutor or the DICE team (email dice@ucb.ac.uk or call 0121 232 4237).

If you need help with using IT equipment, we have specially trained mentors who can help you. You can access them by contacting studentengagement@ucb.ac.uk.

What should I do if I don’t have access to IT equipment or the internet?

During the current national lockdown, students who do not have IT equipment or space to study at home can use the library at The Link or the computers at Camden House. (See more information under Other support services below.)

If you cannot come to campus and do not have access to IT equipment, please contact Student Services and we may be able to help you (email s.services@ucb.ac.uk or call 0121 232 4069).


Our city centre accommodation is open as normal for students studying with us for the 2020/21 academic year. Details about our accommodation policy for 2020/21 contracts can be found here.

Frequently asked questions:

How will student accommodation be affected by the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021?

Our halls of accommodation at The Maltings will remain open, and our Accommodation team can help if you have any questions.

During the time the national restrictions are in place, you must remain in your residence. This means you must not travel to another address, stay overnight elsewhere, or move back to live with your family.

If you need support while you are living in Birmingham – whether at The Maltings or in a private residence – please let us know and we will do our best to help.

Other support services

Our library facilities at The Link are open, as well as the IT facilities at Camden House.

We have a number of safety measures in place, including one-way systems, regular cleaning patrols and two-metre social distancing within study spaces, as well as hand sanitiser and wipes. Gloves are also available within the library should you wish to browse the shelves, but if you know which items you need in advance, we would encourage you to use our online click and collect system.

One-to-one appointments are available with the Academic Skills Centre (ASC) and subject librarians, either online or by phone. Student services staff are available online, including staff who can support you with your mental health and wellbeing, and trained counsellors.

Our other support services remain available to assist you in a variety of areas, while the Guild of Students continues to provide support and activities for all students at University College Birmingham. Please see the FAQs below for more details.

Frequently asked questions:

How will the library and support services be affected by the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021?

Our library at The Link and IT facilities at Camden House will remain open for students who do not have IT equipment or space to study at home. Both will be available from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. We will notify all students if the opening hours need to change.

The library click and collect service will continue to operate, while we will have IT staff on site if you are having any technical problems. Alternatively, you can contact IT support by phone or online using the details shown on the Portal.

Other support services (e.g. CASE, hired@UCB, Student Services etc.) will also remain available for online appointments.

Where can I use a study space/PC?

There are plenty of resource spaces open and available for different types of study, all of which have been adapted to ensure social distancing.

The library at The Link (4th, 5th and 6th floors) is open for all students for quiet, individual study only.

Camden House contains a resource centre with PCs and laptop spaces, as well as access to ITSU technicians for any IT-related queries.

Please use the hand sanitiser and wipes provided before and after using any study spaces and equipment.

How do I use the library click and collect system?

If you don’t wish to use The Link library as a study space and simply want to check books out, we recommend you use our click and collect service.

A member of staff will collect the books from the shelves for you. You will then receive an email to inform you when your order is ready and where to collect the books from.

How do I return books?

Books can currently be returned to the library at The Link using the self-service kiosks on the 4th floor. If you only wish to return books and don’t need to visit the library, there is also a returns point in the reception area on the Ground Floor at The Link.

How do I make an appointment with my subject librarian / CASE / ASC?

The library and CASE/ASC are now delivering one-to-one sessions for students via remote appointments. These must be booked in advance.

To book an appointment with a subject librarian, or if you are a higher education student and wish to book an appointment with the ASC, please click here.

For further education students who wish to book an appointment with the ASC at Richmond House, please email rhasc@ucb.ac.uk or call 0121 232 4369.

How do I access health and wellbeing support?

We know that this is a challenging time for lots of people. If you need support, our health and wellbeing service remains open and is available to provide remote counselling, wellbeing advice and support for students with mental health conditions.

To book an appointment, you need to register with the service by requesting a registration form via the Student Portal under ‘Student Services’, or by sending an email to wellbeing@ucb.ac.uk. Once you have submitted your registration form, you will be contacted by email with a date and time for your assessment.

All first appointments/assessments are held by phone where possible. Ongoing support is available by phone, or a secure online video platform, depending on your preference and the availability of our team.

For help outside of University College Birmingham, you can call the mental health support line offered by Birmingham and Solihull NHS Trust. The helpline is available on 0121 262 3555 and is open 7 days a week, from 9am to 11pm. Further support is also available through Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity.

What if I am having other difficulties while studying?

Our Student Engagement Team is available to provide a variety of support, including advice and guidance, mentoring or directing you to our other support teams.

If you are seeking general advice, you can send an email to studentengagement@ucb.ac.uk. For more complex issues, you can book an appointment with our engagement team – this will initially consist of a phone call, followed by a meeting online depending on the circumstances.

We encourage all students to join our UCB Community page on Canvas, where you can book your appointment with one of our engagement officers, as well as finding more information about our support teams.

What support and activities are available from the Guild of Students?

All of the clubs, societies, liberation groups and course-based societies operated by the Guild are running with additional safety measures. Find out how you can join clubs and societies on the Guild website here

During the period that the new national lockdown for England is in effect, the University is working with the Guild to adapt its programme of social activities to fit in line with the new regulations. 

As always, the Guild is here to support your academic interests, and we can accommodate safe meetings on campus as well as digital meetings to support, signpost or listen. 

You can use the Live Chat on the Guild website, send a message via the Guild’s social media channels or email guildinfo@ucb.ac.uk

Is any help available if I am struggling financially?

If you are struggling financially, we have a limited amount of hardship funding available. To find out the criteria for this support and to get an application form, please send an email to financialsupport@ucb.ac.uk.

How do I contact other support services (e.g. Finance, International)?

Our support services are always available to provide you with help and assistance wherever needed. In the first instance, please send an email to the relevant team, then staff will pick this up and respond during the working day.

Finance: ucbstudentfinance@ucb.ac.uk, or call 0121 232 4411

International: international@ucb.ac.uk

IT support: ITSU@ucb.ac.uk

Registry: registry@ucb.ac.uk

Work placements

For our higher and further education students during the 2020/21 academic year, University College Birmingham will be working with employers to ensure we get placements started as soon as possible within different industry areas.

Further details will be communicated directly during pre-placement sessions and through employability tutors.

Frequently asked questions:

How will my placement be affected by the new national lockdown in England announced in January 2021?

Students who are currently on placements should continue to attend where possible.

If you have any concerns about this or believe that your placement provider may not be able to continue supporting you, please speak to your hired@UCB employability tutor about your options.

I was due to start a one-year paid placement this summer – what is happening now the semester has started?

All students should have finalised an option (based on their current circumstances) for September and confirmed this with their employability tutor. You will then move forward based on your choice.

All students returning to University College Birmingham this semester should have enrolled and have started induction. Please advise your employability tutor if this is not the case – we will continue to liaise with all students either on placement or who have selected Route 3.

I started a one-year paid placement in January/February 2020 but was only able to complete a few weeks before the first UK lockdown in the spring – what should I do?

All students should have now confirmed their current position with their employability tutor and will have received appropriate advice.

Applying to University College Birmingham

Prospective students can apply as normal for courses starting at University College Birmingham in September 2021. For more information, visit our How to Apply page.

Frequently asked questions:

Can I attend an open day?

As we are currently unable to hold events on campus, we are offering a number of online open days, packed with everything from insight on your course of interest or 3D tours of our cutting-edge facilities to Q&As with lecturers and the chance to talk to our support services.

To find out more about our upcoming open days and to register your interest, visit our Open Days page.

Can I visit the campus?

Campus tours at University College Birmingham will be available in due course for students who want to apply for 2021. Please note we may need to make changes at short notice in accordance with the latest government guidance.

For more information, please refer to our Campus Tours page.

I am an international applicant – will I be able to take an English test with the University?

English tests during the current national lockdown will be available on an online-only basis. We will return to on-campus testing when government guidance permits – further details will be published in due course.

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