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Coming to Campus:
Higher education students

Information for undergraduate and postgraduate students on coming to University College Birmingham this spring

Page last updated: Tuesday 11 May

This page contains information for new and returning higher education students about 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 and travelling to Birmingham, 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 current national restrictions in England, and how this will impact upon students attending the University 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 University via email and on Canvas.

Note: If you are a college student at University College Birmingham, please visit our page on Coming to campus: further education students

Latest guidelines on coming to campus

Higher education students who have practical teaching have been returning to campus since 8 March in line with their planned blended learning timetable.

The Government have now confirmed that all higher education students can return to campus from 17th May onwards. You will be able to resume your blended learning timetable from that date onwards.

Once you return to campus, you should get a Covid test on your first day back, and twice a week from then onwards, in line with government guidance (see Covid-19 testing on campus below).

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Last updated 11 May)

Do I need to return to teaching on campus?

All higher education students can return to campus from 17th May onwards. You will be able to resume your blended learning timetable from that date onwards. You should speak to your tutor about any changes which have been made to your timetable.

My course is returning to face-to-face teaching – 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). Universities 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 class. 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 lecturers.

You will also need to be tested for Covid twice a week. We will timetable slots for you to be tested in order to make things easier for you. For more information, please view our Covid-19 testing on campus section below, or contact covid19@ucb.ac.uk if you have any questions.

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.

If my course is returning to face-to-face teaching, can I move back to The Maltings?

Yes. If you are having in-person teaching (see list of courses above), you should be able to move back into your accommodation.

If you require further information about the procedure for returning to accommodation, please contact maltings@ucb.ac.uk.

If I am studying a practical course but don’t currently feel comfortable coming onto campus, can I complete my studies online instead?

You will need to speak to your Year Manager about whether or not you can do your course online, and if the contingencies put in place cover this. Many courses have an online-only option for the rest of this academic year. If not, you will need to discuss options with your Year Manager.

What if I cannot get back to campus?

If your course is being taught in person but you are not sure you can get back to campus, please let your lecturers know as soon as possible so we can advise you on the options you have. In many cases, online-only options are available unless there is compulsory practical teaching. If you’re unsure about whether or not your course is available online-only, you should ask your lecturers.

If you are currently overseas and are concerned about the cost of testing or quarantine on your return, please contact Student Services on financialsupport@ucb.ac.uk – we may be able to help, though it is unlikely we will be able to pay the full cost of testing/quarantine for any students. Please see more information about Travelling to the UK below.

If you are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (i.e. you were previously shielding because of a letter you received from the NHS) and you are returning to campus, please let us know by emailing covid19@ucb.ac.uk so we can advise you on what to do. Shielding has now ended for most people, so in the majority of cases you should be able to return to campus.

Can I access campus facilities and accommodation?

Our accommodation at The Maltings has remained open throughout the recent national lockdown. Under the current restrictions, students should only travel between addresses (whether to move in or out of The Maltings) if they have an acceptable reason within the government guidance, as shown on the GOV.UK website.

Campus-based services, such as the library and IT support are open in a Covid-secure way for all students who need to use them. You can see more information about the availability of these facilities below.

You are strongly encouraged to take a Covid test before the first time you enter campus, and twice a week from then (see Covid-19 testing on campus below).

Full government guidance on the return for students is available here.

What if I don't have IT equipment or space to study at home?

Our IT and library facilities remain available for use by students who do not have IT equipment or space to study at home. You should get a Covid test before the first time you come to the library, and twice a week from then.

The library at The Link is currently open from 9am to 9pm on Monday to Friday. Camden House is also available if you need to use the computers.

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.

You will also still be able to borrow library books using our click and collect service.

What are the semester 2 dates?

For 2021, the start of semester 2 has been postponed by 3 weeks in order to give us the best possible chance of being able to offer in-person teaching to students. This means semester 2 started on Monday 1 March, and runs until Friday 4 June.

We also have three weeks of contingency time planned in case we can't fit all your teaching or assessment into the normal term weeks. This will cover the weeks between 7 and 25 June, and we will let you know as soon as we can if we need to use these weeks for your course.

You can see full details of term dates below:

Undergraduate term dates

Postgraduate term dates

How and when do I need to get tested?

Please see full information on our testing guidelines and facilities under Covid-19 testing on campus below.

I need to commute to the University – am I allowed to travel?

You are permitted to travel for education purposes. If in doubt, you should show any public transport inspectors or police your timetable on the Portal.

Where can I find more information?

Further information concerning Covid-19, access to our campus and facilities, as well as tuition arrangements and support services, can be found on our dedicated Covid-19 FAQs page.

What if I have other questions?

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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

Teaching and support staff will continue to be available via email and phone to provide you with support and advice if you need it.

Travelling to the UK
(EU/International students)

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, restrictions are currently in place for individuals arriving from outside the UK. We are aware this is causing issues for many students travelling into the country.

All arrivals to the UK (with some exemptions) must now test negative for Covid-19 in the 72 hours before you travel. More information, including details of those who are exempt from needing a test, is available here.

You will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine period upon your arrival, and you will also need to book a Covid-19 test package for after you arrive. See our Frequently Asked Questions below for more details.

There are some countries from which entry into the UK is currently banned, often referred to as 'red list' countries – you can view the latest 'red list' here. See below for more information about what you should do if your country is affected.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Last updated 11 May)

My country is on the government 'red list' - what do I need to do?

If you are planning to travel from one of the countries on the UK Government's 'red list', you are currently not able to enter the UK at all, unless you are a British or Irish national, or have UK residence rights (including if you have settled status under the EU settlement scheme, or Indefinite Leave to Remain).

If you are permitted to enter the UK, you will have to quarantine at a government-managed quarantine hotel for 10 days after you arrive. You will need to book this before you travel – more details are available here.

You will also need to take a Covid test on days 2 and 8 of your quarantine period. This test is from a government-mandated supplier (not University College Birmingham) and there will be a charge – more information is available here.

Please bear in mind that we do not know how long these requirements will be in place, and it is possible countries on the 'red list' could change, potentially at short notice.

My country is on the government ‘amber list’ - what do I need to do?

From 17 May, if you are travelling into the UK from a country that is on the UK Government’s amber list (except the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man), you must still quarantine at a private address, such as your home, hall of residence or another suitable location.

You must quarantine for 10 days and will need to take a Covid test on days 2 and 8. This test is from a government-mandated supplier (not University College Birmingham) and there will be a charge – more information is available here. If you are a resident at the Maltings we can support you to quarantine in these circumstances. Please contact the Maltings on maltings@ucb.ac.uk to discuss the options.

My country is on the government 'green list' - what do I need to do?

From 17 May, if you are travelling into the UK from a country that is on the UK Government’s ‘green list’, you must take a Covid test on or before day 2 after you arrive in the UK from a government-mandated supplier (not University College Birmingham) and there will be a charge - more information is available here.

Is any funding support available for quarantine/testing?

If you are facing financial difficulties as a consequence of needing to pay for hotel quarantine or Covid testing in order to enter the UK, let us know and we will advise you on available funding.

Please note that it is very unlikely University College Birmingham will be able to help you with the full costs of hotel quarantine.

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 University 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). Tests are quick, easy and free.

All 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.

In addition, if you live in an area where asymptomatic testing is available, you should also get a test before moving back to Birmingham if possible.

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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

Please note: These tests are for asymptomatic individuals (i.e. people who are not displaying any symptoms of Covid-19). If you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, please do not attend the testing centre – you should book an NHS test instead. More information is available below.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Last updated 11 May)

What is asymptomatic (lateral flow) testing, and who is it for?

Lateral flow antigen tests detect whether or not Covid-19 is present in your body by using a swab or saliva sample. Unlike a PCR test, they don’t require a laboratory to process the test, so results can be delivered rapidly.

The tests are designed for anyone who is asymptomatic (i.e not showing symptoms of coronavirus). Some people who become infected with Covid-19 do not develop any symptoms yet may still be infectious to others without realising it, therefore the tests can quickly determine the presence of the virus and help individuals act accordingly.

University College Birmingham is providing free tests for all students who are not currently experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19.

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 Camden House.

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. You should leave the test centre as soon as possible after you have completed your test, and your results will be sent to you shortly afterwards.

Note: Do not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before undergoing a Covid-19 test to reduce the risk of spoiling the test.

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.

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 student 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.

If you have not received your result within 24 hours please send an email to covid19@ucb.ac.uk and include the ID shown under the barcode on your test registration card (shown by the arrow here).

Do I need to inform the University 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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk 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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk 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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk 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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk 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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk 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 lateral flow 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 lecturer that you have tested negative, as well as sending an email to covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

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 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, lecturers 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 you are studying one of the practical courses listed above, or if your lecturers have confirmed that you should attend in person.

I have received a coronavirus vaccine – do I still need to get tested?

Yes. Even if you have received one or two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, you will still be required to get a test twice a week, as well as following all the requirements and guidance concerning face coverings, social distancing, hand washing etc.

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.

I have stayed in Birmingham since the last semester – do I still need to get tested?

Yes. You will still need to get tested the first time you attend campus, and twice a week after that.

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 live at The Maltings and need to self-isolate, we will be in touch to offer support with ordering food, laundry, parcel deliveries and wellbeing. If you need more details, you can phone The Maltings office on 0121 666 7304.

If you need wellbeing and mental health support, check the Canvas page or contact wellbeing@ucb.ac.uk. 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.

Should I get a test before I travel back to the University?

If your local region is offering asymptomatic testing that you can access, please do make use of this before you travel back to University College Birmingham. You should still get tested on your return in addition.

I am travelling to the University from overseas – when should I arrive?

You should aim to arrive with enough time before teaching begins to allow for any quarantine period. If you have already booked flights then let us know what date to expect you by emailing covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

If you are living at The Maltings, we can support you during any quarantine period. Even if you do not need to quarantine, you will still need to get tested when you first attend campus.

Please see ‘Travelling to the UK’ above for more information.

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 covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

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.

Need more information?

For more details about our response to the coronavirus pandemic, including safety measures on campus, updates on our facilities and details of our full range of support services, please visit our Covid-19 FAQs page.

Alternatively, please send an email to covid19@ucb.ac.uk.

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