What will September look like in UK universities?

This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 24 August 2021

We know things in the UK have been changing very quickly recently, so it’s totally understandable if you’re uncertain as to what to anticipate when uni starts. To prevent any confusion, here’s your rundown on what to expect this September.

GB Mag Survival Service creative - 2021

Vaccination and testing

It is not compulsory to have been vaccinated in the UK. However, it is still very much recommended. Some universities have also made it compulsory to be fully vaccinated before you arrive on campus—so make sure to check with your university first.

Not all vaccinations are valid in the UK, so if vaccination is required you must make sure that you have an FDA or EMA-approved vaccination before going on campus. These are: Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Jansen and Comirnaty. If you have been vaccinated in the UK, US or EU the vaccine will most likely be valid. If your vaccination is not valid, you will likely have to get vaccinated again in the UK.

Universities will have testing sites on campus with free asymptomatic tests, and they recommend that you use these facilities regularly as well as the NHS Test and Trace system. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19 you must NOT visit your campus under any circumstances.

Learning and teaching

You can expect “blended learning” to be the main form of teaching in September, with many classes being taught in-person but with some elements remaining online. This will likely mean that lectures are online whilst seminars or tutorials will be face to face. If your course has practical components (such as laboratory work) you can expect these to be carried out on campus.

Safety measures will remain in place such as one-way walking routes, social distancing, signing into campus locations, assigning seats in the lecture theatre or pre-booking study spaces and labs.

Going on campus

Most universities are approaching the return to campus by having staggered arrivals. You must check with your uni to find out when you’ll be expected to arrive on campus.

Depending on where you study, wearing a mask could be compulsory. In England, it is not mandated by law but it is recommended. In Scotland and Wales you must still wear a mask in indoor spaces and in Northern Ireland you must wear them on public transport and in shops, restaurants and pubs.

University campuses will be open and most services such as cafés and libraries will be operating as normal. For most unis, you can expect at least part of freshers’ week to be carried out on campus. Freshers’ events will most likely be outdoors and reduced in numbers.

Although most of the Covid-19 restrictions have been fully eased, each university has to do a risk assessment. This means that not all universities will have the same restrictions. For more information on what restrictions will be in place for you, your best bet is to check your university’s website.

Student accommodation

If you have a room in a shared flat, the people that live with you will be considered your household members. This means that social distancing measures do not apply to you and your flatmates. However, there may still be restrictions on whether you can invite friends over – in which case you might opt to socialise in a public place instead. There will be extra cleaning measures to keep public and common areas as sanitary as possible.

Rules may vary depending on your accommodation provider, so make sure to check with them if you have any questions or concerns.

You may also want to read

How to travel to the UK safely during Covid-19

What is the NHS healthcare surcharge?

Will international students get the Covid-19 vaccination for free?