Information for college students on coming to University College Birmingham in March
Page last updated: Friday 5 March
This page contains information for new and returning further education students about the start of semester 2 of the 2020/21 academic year at University College Birmingham.
Here you will find important advice and guidelines around coming onto our campus, as well as information about our free Covid-19 testing facility for students who do not have coronavirus symptoms.
We are continuously monitoring guidance from the UK government concerning the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the national ‘Stay at Home’ lockdown in England introduced in January, and how this will impact upon students attending the College this spring. Please be aware therefore that the information presented below is subject to change, so you should continue to check for further updates from the College via email and on Canvas.
Under the current lockdown restrictions (until 8 March), you should only come to campus for teaching or exams if your tutors have confirmed that you should attend in person.
Latest guidelines on coming to campus
Following the announcement by the UK Government on 22 February concerning the reopening of places of education, we can confirm that students on our college courses at University College Birmingham will be able to return to face-to-face teaching in March.
From Monday 8 March, you will return to the timetable you had earlier in the year, with blended teaching (some on campus and some online). Your teachers will be able to confirm the date of your first day back and whether anything in your timetable has changed.
Once on campus, you will need to undergo Covid testing twice a week and follow all safety regulations. More information is available below.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Last updated 26 February)
Do I need to get a Covid test when I come onto campus?
Yes, you should get tested as soon as you are back on campus before you do anything else, and you will need to be tested twice a week. Testing is very quick and easy to do, and will help us to make sure everyone on campus is safe.
You will be given a timetabled slot in which to get tested. We are in the process of confirming exact plans for how this will work and will be in touch soon with further details.
More information on our Covid-19 testing facilities can be found under Covid-19 testing on campus below.
What if I don't have IT equipment or space to study at home?
Our IT and library facilities will remain available for use by students who do not have IT equipment or space to study at home.
The library at The Link is currently open from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. From 8 March, we will also be reopening our IT facilities at Camden House.
IT staff will be on site if you have any technical problems. Alternatively, you can find phone and contact details for IT support on the Portal.
Please note, you should take a Covid test before you use any spaces on campus (see Covid-19 testing on campus below).
Can I come onto campus to socialise with other students?
You can only come onto campus if you are here to study or attend online lessons on your own. If you seem to be on campus to socialise, you will be asked to leave.
On campus, you will be expected to wear a mask (unless you are exempt), and you must maintain 2 metres social distancing wherever possible.
What safety measures are in place on campus, and what facilities are available?
It’s really important you continue to follow all social distancing and behaviour rules if you come to campus (and indeed everywhere else). Colleges including University College Birmingham have had to work very hard behind the scenes to convince the government that students can be trusted to follow the rules, and that letting you return won’t contribute to the spread of Covid-19.
We are confident that the processes we’ve put in place will keep everyone safe, but they only work if everyone follows them, so we encourage you to be patient and sensible.
To make sure you stay safe on campus we’ll need you to follow a few new rules. In particular, you will need to wear a mask whenever you are indoors on campus, unless you are eating or have been asked to remove it for a particular part of a lesson. If you are exempt from wearing a mask, you must make sure you have a card to show this – you can obtain an exemption card by asking your tutors.
Full details about our safety measures and regulations on campus, as well as details on which facilities are open for students, is available on our dedicated Covid-19 FAQs page.
Covid-19 testing on campus
Before returning to campus, all students with no coronavirus symptoms should take a Covid-19 test. You should not come onto College premises or mix with other students until you have been tested, if you possibly can.
We are running a free asymptomatic (lateral flow) testing centre at Camden House (B1 3PY) from 8 March. Tests are quick, easy and free.
All college students attending practical classes on campus will be given timetabled slots for testing, accompanied by staff – you will not need to book the tests yourself. Students and staff are expected to get tested twice a week until further notice, or once a week if you are only on campus once.
You can view the test slot you have been booked into by looking at your timetable, or logging into the Portal. If you can’t attend during the given slot, you can book a more convenient time here (please be aware that your timetable will continue to show your original slot and not the new one you have booked yourself).
Alternatively, if you are only coming onto campus to use essential facilities or work in the library, you should book a Covid test yourself for when you arrive – click here to book your test.
If the on-campus test site isn’t available, you can also get a test for free from the Birmingham City Council test site at the Utilita Arena (formerly the NIA), a five-minute walk from campus. More information is available on the council website here.
Even when you have received a negative test, you are still strongly advised to adhere to social distancing rules. If you test positive, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days, as you would with any other Covid-19 test.
Should you have any questions about testing, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Last updated 5 March)
What does the test involve?
University College Birmingham is working with NHS Test and Trace to provide the lateral flow tests on campus at our testing centre in The Link building.
The test is quick and simple using a swab which you administer yourself, with supervision from trained personnel. Your swab will then be taken for processing, and your results will be sent to you shortly afterwards.
How long will testing take?
The test itself takes less than 2 minutes. It will take you around 5-10 minutes at the beginning to register on the NHS website – you can do this on your phone when you arrive, or we can help you to do it on an iPad.
When you register on the NHS website, you will have the option of creating an NHS account, which will save you needing to re-enter your details before each test. We strongly recommend you do this to save time.
Is it compulsory to get tested?
The UK Government has advised that all students and staff need to be tested twice weekly – this has been in place since January 2021.
Testing is very strongly advised, as it will help to stop the spread of Covid by people who don't have symptoms – around 1 in 3 people who are infected with Covid don't know they have it, but they can still pass it on. You should be tested twice a week if you are coming to campus or mixing with other people.
Do my parents need to give permission for me to be tested?
No. As long as you are aged 16 or over, you are able to consent to be tested yourself.
However, we encourage you to show this information to your parents or guardians, so they know that you are being tested.
What do I need to bring with me to the testing centre?
For registration and results purposes, you should bring your mobile phone and your college ID with you. Please also remember to bring your face covering, unless you are exempt, in which case you should bring your exemption card.
How quickly will I get my results?
For each test, you will receive your results by text and/or email within two hours of taking the test, in many cases much sooner.
Do I need to inform the College about my test result?
You can update your test result yourself on the Portal. If your test is positive, you will also need to email email@example.com and let us know. For privacy reasons, University College Birmingham won’t be told what your result is, so please contact us yourself.
What happens if I test negative?
If your test result is negative, you can attend classes and campus facilities as required, but should be particularly careful to maintain social distancing and other safety measures.
What happens if I test positive?
If you receive a positive result, you must begin self-isolation immediately for 10 days from when you receive your result.
You should also report your test result to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can undertake contact tracing and provide you with advice and support.
If you test positive through a lateral flow test, you must also take a confirmatory PCR test within two days. If you do not, you will need to self-isolate for 10 full days even if you get a negative PCR result. If you book the PCR test within two days of the positive lateral flow test and it provides a negative result, you can return to campus, and close contacts and other household members can stop self-isolating.
What happens if my test result is invalid?
If your test result comes back as invalid, please let us know and then book a new test.
If I test negative, does that mean I definitely don't have Covid-19?
No. The test can’t guarantee that you don’t have Covid-19, as it can take some time for the virus to incubate after you are infected.
By having two tests every week, we increase the chances of identifying the virus if it is incubating. So it’s a good sign that you are not infectious, but it is not absolutely guaranteed. This is why it is important to continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing, even if you have tested negative.
What happens if I test negative, but discover I am a close contact of someone who has tested positive?
If you are a close contact of a positive case, you would need to self-isolate for 10 days from your last contact with that person. That’s why it’s particularly important that you maintain social distancing, to minimise the chance of you being identified as someone’s close contact.
The virus can take time to incubate, which is why you have to isolate if you are a close contact of a positive case, even if you have tested negative.
What if I can't attend during my testing slot?
It's really important that you make every effort to attend your allocated time slot. If you are late, we may have to rebook your test but this will delay when you can return to classes.
You must let us know as soon as you can by emailing email@example.com and we'll try to book you an alternative time slot.
If you are late, please don't just turn up, as this will affect others waiting to complete their test.
Where can I get a test if I am experiencing symptoms of Covid-19?
Our testing centre is for asymptomatic students only. If you are experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19, do not come to the testing centre on campus.
Instead, you should stay at home and book a different test called a PCR test, available for free at your local testing centre. For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.
If you are struggling to book a PCR test, please let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and we may be able to help.
Should I get tested if I've recently had Covid-19?
If you have tested positive for Covid-19 recently (i.e. within the last 90 days), we do not advise you to get a test. You are very unlikely to be infected again so quickly, and the test may still show you as positive, although you should not still be infectious. You should email email@example.com to let us know if you have recently tested positive, so we know not to expect you to be tested by us. You will not need a doctor’s note as we have a record of this.
If your positive test was more than 3 months ago, you will need to continue to get tested.
I am already getting tests twice weekly from my employer – can I use those results?
Yes. Groups will be given timetabled testing slots, so you will need to confirm to your tutor that you have tested negative, as well as sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm only coming onto campus as a one-off, or once a week – do I need to come in specially for a second test?
If you're only coming onto campus as a one-off, then as long as you get tested on that day, you don't need to be tested again if it is not convenient to come back to campus. If you do wish to be tested a second time for peace of mind, you may be able to find a test site closer to where you live.
If you only have one session a week on campus, you will only need one test, but if you are working or mixing with people during the rest of the week then we advise you to get a second test if you can, either at University College Birmingham or at a test centre near your home.
Do I have to get tested before I can come back to classes?
You are very strongly encouraged to get tested, but it is not compulsory. Getting tested is a great way to help ensure you do not risk passing Covid-19 to your friends, tutors or classmates, and should reduce the number of people who need to self-isolate during term.
Until 8 March, you should only come to classes if your tutors have confirmed that you should attend in person.
Can I get tested somewhere else instead of University College Birmingham?
Yes, if it's more convenient, you can go to another lateral flow test site – details of the Birmingham sites are available here.
What support is available if I need to self-isolate?
We encourage all of our students to look out for each other, and to let us know if you need more support.
If you need wellbeing and mental health support, check the Canvas page or contact email@example.com. For help outside of University College Birmingham, you can also 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.
More detailed information about support services, including hardship support, is available on our Covid-19 FAQs page.
I have additional needs – can someone help me with my test?
Assistance is available if you are unable to self-administer your test and need help with swabbing, or if you require support with reading instructions.
If you require an assisted test, please inform staff on your arrival at the testing centre during your registration process.
Our testing centre at The Link is wheelchair accessible.
Where can I find more information?
If you have any questions about what all this means for you, please speak to your teaching teams in the first instance, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching and support staff will continue to be available via email and phone to provide you with support and advice if you need it.
Further information about coronavirus and frequently asked questions for University College Birmingham students can be found on our Covid-19 FAQs page. More information is also available on the GOV.UK website and the NHS website.