If you are due to start a course at a UK university this September, we bet you’ve got loads of questions about what uni life might be like due to the Pandemic.
Here are answers to the main questions, do also check with your university and specifically the faculty that runs the course you are about to start, as they will tell you what precautions they are taking.
What will uni be like in September 2020?
There will be social distancing on all campuses in the UK and some universities will be creating a timetable of when you will be allowed to be on campus to help avoid large gatherings of students. These measures will reduce how often you will need to travel to reduce the outbreak of Covid-19 on campus.
All buildings will be cleaned more often, especially in high traffic areas. Hand sanitizers and anti-viral wipes will be available. Campuses will also be introducing one-way systems to help maintain social distancing. Shared spaces like cafeterias and libraries will have their furniture rearranged, and some shared areas will be closed, to allow for social distancing.
You will also be asked to wear a face mask and to wash or sanitize your hands more frequently.
Can I stay in my country and start my course at a UK university?
The UK Government has made changes to the Tier 4 Visa to allow students to study remotely if that is how your course will be delivered at the start of the academic year. Check with your university to ensure you do not need to be on campus for any part of your course before you decide to stay in your home country.
Will there be face to face teaching in September?
This will differ between institutes, but generally universities will be providing a blended learning experience for students. Seminars, practical lessons and tutorials will be delivered in-person in small groups. You may also receive lectures online, submit work digitally, and meet for sessions via platforms like Zoom and Skype.
The amount of your programme that will be on-campus or online will depend on what type of course you are on and the type of government guidelines in place in September.
Will I be able to stay in university accommodation?
Currently, universities are hoping to offer accommodation and most universities will allow international students to arrive to accommodation two weeks before the standard arrival date to allow you to quarantine on arrival with no additional charge.
However, do expect changes, such as catering facilities not being available and TV rooms being closed for the foreseeable future. Universities that offer dorms with shared bathrooms may also not be able to accommodate students.
Will I be able to use the library?
Yes you will be able to use the library and most universities will be introducing an appointment system, whereby you are allowed to use the library at an assigned time and some universities will introduce a click and collect service, where students can submit an online order for books and collect them in person.
Will I be able to eat on-campus?
On-campus eating places will be open and will be serving food. You will also still be able to eat your own food on campus, but tables and seating will be reduced to maintain social distancing.
The other change will be cafeterias will substitute plates and cutlery with recyclable materials. You may also notice that shops and catering outlets will stop taking cash, so make sure you always have your debit card with you.
Will sports facilities be open?
Yes, gyms and sports halls are expected to be open by September and universities are following Government guidelines to ensure these spaces are safe, so do expect to see extra precautions such as one-way systems and shower facilities not being available.
Will there be a freshers week?
Freshers Week is how UK universities welcome their new and returning students by holding events and parties. Unfortunately this will not be possible for Sept 2020. Many universities will be moving all of their welcome activities online and any event on campus will be done in small groups.
How will I know what to expect ?
You will get an email before you arrive on-campus informing you of all the guidelines and the precautions universities are taking in September. You can also visit the universities website and read through the FAQ section to get a better understanding of how your chosen university is preparing for start of the academic year.
The faculty or the course you will undertake will give you specific instructions on how the teaching will be delivered. If you have specific requirements, such as a disability or need extra support academically, make sure you get in touch with the university to discuss how they can help you.