October 2020

2020 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 27 mins

We know 2020 has been a truly extraordinary year. Here at University College Birmingham, we are dedicated to ensuring that nothing can stop you from achieving your ambitions and fulfilling your future.

We have been welcoming students back onto campus for the new academic year with a number of safety measures in place, and our teaching and support services have been adapted 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: Wednesday 21 October

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

Yes, for 14 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 or 14-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.

What is the current situation concerning coronavirus in Birmingham, and how might I be affected?

In addition to the government’s national guidelines for England, a number of further coronavirus restrictions are currently in place in Birmingham and some surrounding areas including Sandwell, Solihull and Wolverhampton. Anyone living in or travelling to the affected areas should follow the relevant guidance.

For the latest information, please visit the Birmingham City Council website, as well as guidance for the West Midlands on the GOV.UK website.

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:

What safety measures are in place on 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. Eating areas are open, with available tables and seating areas indicated. In order to maintain the appropriate distance, please do not move the furniture. If you wish to eat in, you will also be asked to check in by scanning a QR code or to give your contact details.

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 – by this, we mean building entrances, corridors, social spaces, lifts and while queuing to buy food from campus outlets – as well as any other spaces where staying two metres apart is difficult.

We don't require you to wear a mask while sitting down in classrooms or meeting rooms, nor while you are eating. You also don't need to wear a mask while you are sitting down in the library or a computer room. You can choose to wear a mask in these settings if you wish.

These rules apply both to students and staff. 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.

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.

If we have a number of cases, it is possible that we may have to switch to online-only teaching for some or all students for a period, potentially at short notice. If this happens we will let you know as soon as possible. We have contingency plans in place should this happen so as to ensure we can continue teaching and supporting you.

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?

Our library facilities at The Link and Richmond House are open, as well as the IT facilities at Camden House and elsewhere on campus.

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

Are the campus gym facilities open?

Moss House

Our gym at Moss House is currently open to existing members only. The gym is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, with new rules and procedures in place to help adhere to social distancing and keep everyone safe while using the facilities.

In order to access the Moss House gym, members are now required to book a 50-minute workout slot. You can either call the gym on 0121 227 7207 (ext 3207) or email gym@ucb.ac.uk – you will need to provide your full name, student/staff ID, contact number and university email address.

Changing facilities are limited so we ask that members arrive 'gym ready' wherever possible. Upon arrival you will find hand sanitiser and cleaning stations throughout, along with signage for social distancing and one way systems which you should adhere to.

We also ask members to sanitise hands regularly, wipe down any equipment used with the cleaning products provided, wear a face covering in all communal areas and train alone to maximise space.

Updates concerning sign-up for new members will be provided in due course. If you are interested in joining the gym, please send an email to gym@ucb.ac.uk or follow the gym pages on Canvas and social media for more updates.

The Maltings

The gym at The Maltings is currently open on weekends from 10am to 4pm for residents only. To use the facilities, residents need to book at The Maltings office or send an email to maltings@ucb.ac.uk.

Richmond House

The gym facilities at Richmond House 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?

Our salon at Richmond House is currently operating a limited service on Mondays from 10:30am to 2pm, offering colour services, cuts, wash and finish provided by our hairdressing apprentices. Other sessions are currently on hold until further notice.

In order to ensure the safety of our clients, students and staff, we have implemented a number of changes to the way we operate. We have fulfilled these requirements in accordance with government guidelines and have a full risk assessment in place.

Please note: if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in contact with anyone experiencing symptoms or self-isolating, please do not come to the salon – you should rearrange your appointment for at least 14 days later.

See our full guidance sheet for clients at The Spa here.

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?

Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food (formerly the Atrium and the Brasserie) is now open to the public.

We are following the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidelines and as such, the maximum party size is currently six people. Visitors also need to adhere to health and safety guidelines, including wearing masks in all public areas and when you are not at your table in the restaurant.

For more information and to make a booking, please click here.

Are campus cafes open?

All of our cafes have now reopened across our campus buildings. Please remember you will need to wear a mask or face covering when queuing at any of our catering outlets.

In order to maintain the appropriate distance, please do not move the furniture. If you wish to eat in, you will also be asked to check in by scanning a QR code or to give your contact details.

Is Cakes and Bakes open?

Cakes and Bakes in Summer Row is now open to students, staff and the public.

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.

For the first semester, we are using a blended approach combining face-to-face and online teaching. For some of our higher education courses, we have also provided the option to study completely online if you are not able to get to campus.

Find out more about how our courses will be delivered during the first semester here. We will provide more details about our plans for teaching in the second semester in due course.

Frequently asked questions:

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?

We have a range of computer spaces across our campus buildings at University College Birmingham, including The Link library, Camden House and ThinkSpace at McIntyre House or Summer Row. (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).

How will face-to-face teaching be affected if there are cases on campus?

If we have a number of cases, it is possible that we may have to switch to online-only teaching for some or all students for a period, potentially at short notice.

If this happens we will let you know as soon as possible. We have contingency plans in place should this happen so as to ensure we can continue teaching and supporting you.

How will my studies be affected if I am unable to attend campus?

If you are unable to attend campus because you are self-isolating, we will try as far as possible to teach you online so that you don’t miss out.

For practical tuition, you may be offered the option to watch films of demonstrations, or to catch up later, depending on the specific subject and timing. Your course tutor will talk to you about the best option if this becomes necessary.


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:

Is accommodation still available?

Yes, you can apply for accommodation at The Maltings here.

What if I cannot move in?

If your arrival is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit our accommodation FAQs page for more details.

What if I’m studying online?

You can still live in our halls if you wish to do so. Simply submit your application as normal.

Do I need to isolate when I arrive?

Please check the latest government guidance for travel corridors here.

We have a buddy system in place if you need to isolate when you arrive. Your buddy will contact you by phone, help with ordering and delivering food, and deliver any orders to your flat, all while adhering to social distancing.

What if I show symptoms while living in halls?

You must contact us by email to covid19@ucb.ac.uk and also notify The Maltings reception. A member of the team will then contact you and your flat by phone to check on your wellbeing and support you for the isolation period. Please see our policy here.

Who will my ‘household’ be when living in halls?

Your household will be your flat, which is usually between 4 and 8 students. That means you can socialise with your household without needing to maintain social distancing.

However, if one of the members of your household gets COVID-19 symptoms, everyone in the flat will need to self-isolate. We will support you if this happens.

Other support services

Our library facilities at The Link and Richmond House are open, as well as the IT facilities at Camden House and elsewhere on campus.

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 socially distanced in person. Student services staff are available in person or 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:

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. There is also a computer area on the Lower Ground Floor that can accommodate group study on a socially distanced basis.

Camden House contains a resource centre with PCs and laptop spaces, as well as access to ITSU technicians for any IT-related queries. There are also further study spaces and PCs for higher education students at McIntyre House.

For further education students, we have resource centres at Richmond House (4th floor Library) and Summer Row (6th floor ThinkSpace and Ground Floor).

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, with in-person or remote appointments available. 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. You can choose to meet online or on the 6th floor at The Link.

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?

Our health and wellbeing service remains open and is available to provide counselling, wellbeing advice and support for students with mental health conditions. This continues to remain an appointment-based service, so we cannot accommodate drop-in sessions.

To book an appointment, you need to register with the service by requesting a registration form via the Student Portal under ‘Student Services’, by sending an email to wellbeing@ucb.ac.uk, or visiting the ground floor of The Link. 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, a secure online video platform or in person, depending on your preference and the availability of our team. For appointments in person, we have a range of safety measures in place which you will be informed about by email once your appointment is booked.

How do I access the University nursing service?

Our University nurse remains available and is located on the 7th floor of Summer Row.

If you wish to see the nurse, you do not need to book an appointment – opening times are 8am-4pm Monday to Thursday and 8am-3pm on Friday.

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 or in person 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. We also have a member of the team in the office on the ground floor of The Link each day – please report to reception to enquire about availability.

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. Societies offer a taster membership during the first term – find out more on the Guild website here.

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.

The Guild office in Moss House is open weekdays from 9am-5pm – here you can buy University College Birmingham hoodies, sign up to societies and find out more about the Guild. Alternatively, 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.

You can also buy a University hoodie online and get it shipped to your door.

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:

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 lockdown – 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 January 2021 and 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?

University College Birmingham is currently offering limited campus tours for prospective students who wish to apply for 2021 entry.

These tours consist of a walking tour led by one of our student ambassadors. Each tour takes approximately one hour and includes all facilities across our campus sites at Moss House, McIntyre House and Summer Row.

For more information and to book a place on one of our upcoming tours, please visit the Campus Tours page.

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

If you are applying for January 2021 or September 2021, English tests will be made available both online and on campus. Further details will be published in due course.