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Information about higher education and student support during the coronavirus pandemic.

First published:
23 October 2020
Last updated:

Coronavirus guidance for students

Will higher education students and staff be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine?

The majority of higher education students are unlikely to be offered the vaccine until the summer when the older  age groups have been vaccinated. However, if you are in one of the priority groups you will be offered the vaccine sooner. These groups have been prioritised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) at UK level. These groups include those over 80 years of age, a care home resident or member of staff at a care home, a member of staff or student in frontline health and social care or are extremely clinically vulnerable (formerly shielding).

You should make sure you are registered with a GP.

Eligibility for the vaccine will apply equally to international students and staff. When the vaccine roll out gets to the relevant category individuals, regardless of nationality, will be offered a vaccine. Remember to register with a GP in the UK.

What are the rules on teaching at universities?

Universities will continue to provide a combination of in person teaching and blended learning. This will minimise the need to travel and will allow students to work from home as well as attend essential in person teaching and learning sessions.

While incidents of Covid-19 rose in the student population at the start of term, evidence shows this is taking place in student accommodation and in social settings outside the teaching and learning environment. Universities are operating Covid-secure campuses and adhering to strict social distancing. Coronavirus cases amongst staff remain low.

If you live off campus, you are able to commute to university to access education when necessary.

Universities have worked hard to enable learning to take place in a Covid-secure environment this year, based on Welsh law and Welsh Government guidance. Much has been done to change the provision of teaching and adapt to the situation so that students can undertake their studies as safely as possible throughout the pandemic.

But you should contact your university if you have any concerns. They are best placed to support you and alleviate any concerns you may have.

Higher education institutions are responsible for the planning and delivery of their provision, including determining what educational services to provide in person. The Welsh Government expects universities to consider the needs of students in providing alternative and accessible formats for both teaching and assessment. Students should be able to leave with qualifications that are a fair reflection of their abilities, whilst maintaining quality and standards. No student should be disadvantaged unfairly for studying at this time.

We have asked our universities to take all reasonable steps to help support any student who chooses to access learning remotely.

See our guidance for more information.

I don’t have access to online learning. What should I do?

We understand that all higher education institutions are making sure all learners can access e-learning, for example through loaning laptops to learners who do not have facilities at home. 

You should contact your university if you have any concerns. They are best placed to alleviate any concerns and discuss how they can help support you.

Who should I gather with?

You should only gather indoors with your household.

For more information see our guidance and the general question and answers.

I am living in shared accommodation – how does this affect my household/extended household?

See our guidance.

Can I meet with people in my extended household?

Under alert level 4 extended households are not permitted.

However, people who live alone can form an extended household or support bubble with one other household – so as to be treated as a single household under the rules.

This includes students who are in single person households. If you form a support bubble, this may be with another single person household or with a larger household. You are then able to meet.  See the guidance on single person households.

Please help us keep Wales safe.

My partner lives in another flat, can I still meet them indoors?

If you do not live in the same household as your partner you are not able to meet them indoors.

There are limited exceptions to this but in practice they don’t apply unless you both live alone or are an individual household.

The Welsh Government knows that this is not what life is normally about, but sadly we don’t live in normal times.

Please help us by sticking to the rules. Please help us keep Wales safe.

I am self-isolating how will I get my essentials?

Speak to your student support services at your university. If you haven’t already, tell them that you are self-isolating and require help. They will have processes set up to help with day-to-day essential such as delivering food, laundry, medication and toiletries etc.

Your university should also support you with your well-being at this difficult time and may have buddy systems or other support networks that can help you.

There are also organisations that can help such as Mind Cymru and Student Space.

I am living at a term time address - can I go home?

Yes, students who routinely spend time both away at university and at home are considered to have two households for the purposes of the coronavirus restrictions.

Under alert level 4, you should not travel home for a visit unless you have a reasonable excuse to travel such as at the start or end of term, for work or because of concerns about health and wellbeing.

In relation to students who have two households, one during term time and one out-of-term, the expectation is that you should not travel between them during the term without good reason - while the travel itself would be allowed, purely social visits should take place outdoors and be done in accordance with the normal rules on gathering with others.

Students need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable and how the rules apply to a visit to the household they are not, at the specific time, living in.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the restrictions is to prevent the spreading of the virus, including to those we care about.

Remember we all have a responsibility to recognise the risks the virus presents to ourselves, our families and friends and our wider communities.

There may be different rules in place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I am worried about my health and well-being and feeling very isolated?

The Welsh Government is aware that universities in Wales have a range of activities aimed at supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing, supported by funding made available by the Welsh Government.

Welsh Government guidance states that universities should consider planning and managing social events to support student mental health and well-being and contribute to the university experience. In addition, legal, organised social interactions will help to manage and mitigate the risk of unplanned gatherings.

Our guidance also recognises that ‘virtual’ gatherings will play an important role in supporting students’ wellbeing and enabling safe socialising and should be encouraged.

This support should be extended to students who are experiencing anxiety and stress may wish to contact their student welfare services at their university or organisations such as Mind Cymru and Student Space.

There are also a number of national charities who may be able to help. We recognise how difficult a time this is for students and that they face unique issues.

If you are experiencing a significant exacerbation of your symptoms, contact your GP, NHS 111, your student support or someone you trust.

You are able to travel if you need to access support, this may include access to medical services or to provide or receive care, including for your own mental health and well-being.

You should download and use the NHS Covid-19 app to protect yourself and your friends and family. The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in.

Please see guidance on the NHS Covid App.

What are the travel implications? Can I leave the county/country/UK? Can I go home?

Students must be aware of any travel restrictions in place for international travel.

Students arriving in the UK must also follow the quarantine rules on arrival in the UK.

Under level 4, you should not travel home for a visit and should only travel when necessary, for example, at the start or end of term, for work or because of concerns about their wellbeing.

Further information on travel rules for entering and leaving Wales.

International students should see our guidance for students.

Is it safe to remain at university?

Yes. Universities have worked hard to ensure that their campuses are Covid secure. The Welsh Government has developed guidance to assist the university sector in their preparations. As autonomous bodies, universities are responsible for the provision of their courses for staff and students, and all universities in Wales have ensured that students undertook their studies as safely as possible throughout the pandemic.

The evidence is clear that remaining in your university accommodation is the safest place for you to be at the moment. Whilst there have been outbreaks of Covid-19 at universities in Wales, these have been well-managed by PHW, the local health boards and the universities.

We know clusters have been contained within university communities and have not spread to the wider community, or to those who may be more prone to poorer outcomes from COVID-19 because they have particular existing health conditions, complications or they are older.

The scientific advice has been clear that there may be outbreaks among students, as with any group in society and the measures in place are designed to keep students, staff and local communities safe. The wellbeing of our young people has been at the centre of decision-making throughout the pandemic and will continue to be so.

There is a careful balancing of the risk of any potential infections and ensuring that young people – who have faced incredible disruption during the pandemic – can continue with their education and be supported by their families, their universities and this Government.

Your university will have provided clear guidance to you on how you can act responsibly and minimise risk to yourselves, your family, friends and community.

This should include guidance on following the rules on only gathering within your households, on avoiding parties, on social distancing, on getting tested if symptomatic, and on self-isolating when required.

Can I meet people I don’t live with in my garden?

You must limit the number of people you meet socially, a maximum of 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors including in private gardens.

I’m travelling to Wales from outside the UK. Can I still come?

Yes, access to education is a reasonable excuse to travel to Wales and so is moving home. Please see guidance on travel.

Our international students are a welcome part of our communities in Wales. International students, from certain countries outside the UK will need to comply with the self-isolating requirements in Wales. 

We strongly recommend that students travelling from outside the UK should contact their university before they intend to travel to the UK to find out about the support available from their university during the required period of self-isolation on arrival.

As a student travelling to Wales from an amber list country you should book university supported accommodation for your 10 day isolation period.

Please see our guidance on international students travelling into Wales.

Please see the list of countries exempt from the self-isolation rules in Wales and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors, UK Government

You should speak to your university as they will be able to support you in the self-isolation period.

Contact with others:

Self-isolation means you should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care. The only friends and family students can have contact with are those who travelled with them or the people they are staying with.  The people they are with should also self-isolate.

People you travelled with:

Where you travelled together with other students and you are sharing accommodation, you can continue to have contact amongst yourselves, but it is recommended that where possible social distancing should be maintained.

Will I be able to visit the University library?

You are able to visit the library, but you should think if you can access online library services or click and collect for loans as this will help limit in-person contact and reduce the spread of the virus. Campus libraries can remain open to students and staff for educational purposes and will continue to maintain Covid-secure measures.

In the library students must maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and adhere to the increased hygiene measures, such as hand washing and using your own surface wipes (or those provided) to clean the work area.

Students must use the library independently and must not gather in study spaces.

Will I be able to use the study spaces on campus?

Study spaces on campus remain open and will continue to maintain strict Covid-secure measures.

Try to think carefully about whether you need to use these spaces as you should try to only use these spaces if you do not have a suitable place to study at home, or if you are on campus and it would not be reasonable for you to return home (or the place you live in term-time) between in-person teaching.

Your university may have a booking system in-place, you should contact your student services team to find out what arrangements are in place.

Students must maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and adhere to the increased hygiene measures, such as hand washing and using your own surface wipes (or those provided) to clean the work area.

Students should use the study spaces independently and must not gather in study spaces.

I am a research student, will I be able to continue studying/working/carrying out my research at the University?

You will be able to continue your research in-person, and gather with others to carry-out that research if you are unable to do so from home. If you are able to carry out your research from home or without gathering with others then that is what you should do.

I am a researcher working at the University, will I be able to continue working at the University?

You should work from home if you can. But if your research work cannot be reasonably conducted from home you are able to go to the university.

I am a researcher in an ongoing research study, will I be able to continue taking part in this research?

If you are able to carry out your research work from home or without gathering with others, then that is what you should do.

Note for researchers: You should think whether contact with research participants in person is crucial or whether an alternative approach could be taken to allow participation without the need for contact with others.

Coronavirus guidance for staff

I work in the post-16 sector, what does this mean for me?

Your employer will have risk assessed the building/s where you work and introduced procedures to ensure that your environment is COVID-secure. If necessary, you would have received a personal risk assessment or equality impact assessment specific to your personal circumstances.

f you are extremely vulnerable, the Welsh Government guidance recommends that working from home is the default position unless your employer can assure your safety. Please see our guidance..

What should I do when in work?

You should only remain in work to carry out duties that cannot be done from home.

We know that interactions between staff increase the risk of transmission. Therefore, face to face contact with other members of staff should be avoided if possible, you should think about using alternative approaches such as online meetings.

Your employer will need to ensure that any work spaces, including offices, are COVID-secure, that social distancing measures can be maintained and that strict hygiene rules are followed in the work place.

You should avoid sharing an indoor space with people you do not live with, this will include areas such as staff rooms.

You should not gather in a staff room with people who you do not live with, as this will increase your contacts and the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

We know that talking to people is a main contributor for spreading COVID-19. The more people you meet and speak to, the more you increase the risk to yourself and others.

We are asking people not to think primarily about what they are allowed to do, but what is the most sensible thing to do. Only through everybody trying their hardest to follow this guidance will we be able to avoid further lockdowns.

What sort of conversation should I have with a member of my team who is worried about needing to come into work?

There are a number of models which can be used to support managers during discussions with their teams about an individual’s personal risk factors when returning to, or remaining in, the workplace. The aim is to help enable good quality conversations between managers and colleagues about any personal circumstances which may increase risk from coronavirus, and to agree any actions which need to be carried out. 'Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus pandemic' is guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on how employers may approach this conversation with staff.

Returning to university for the new term

How is it that some students returned to campus earlier in the year and have been receiving in person learning, yet I am only now being allowed to return to campus?

Due to the increased rates of Covid-19 during the winter, as autonomous bodies, universities have determined which courses required essential in person activity and which could be successfully delivered online. This is not because universities are unsafe, but because we needed to limit travel as much as possible and ensure the majority of people could work or study from home. However, as the period of time people were asked to work or study from home was extended, universities needed to review the practical, professional and qualification requirements of each course to determine whether they could continue to be delivered online for the whole term. This review resulted in more students being asked to return to campus for in person teaching and learning in February and again in March.

Many university facilities have remained open throughout the pandemic, and students have been permitted travel to campus and their term time accommodation to access specialist facilities such as library resources, studios or, laboratory facilities etc. that are not available from home.

As cases in Wales and throughout the UK have continue to fall and the public health situation has stabilised, as a result of the vaccination programme and our collaborative efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, all students studying in Wales are permitted to return to campus and their term time accommodation to access blended learning from 12 April. Students travelling to their term time accommodation or returning to campus should book a test before they travel. All students regardless of whether you have travelled, should contact their university for guidance on how to book asymptomatic tests before using educational facilities on campus.

Students should also familiarise themselves with the rules in Wales as these may differ from other parts of the UK.

Students should also be aware of  what arrangements are in place to ensure university facilities remain Covid-secure.

How has my education been value for money?

The pandemic has inevitably resulted in changes to how higher education is delivered this year. However, universities have provided online learning throughout the stay at home restrictions which is different but broadly equivalent as a means to access education.

Your university will need to be able to offer different ways of doing things to try to ensure that you are not disadvantaged because of the pandemic. 

The offer will vary across institutions and across courses. However, the Minister for Education has asked the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to review the standard and quality of higher education provision in Wales during the pandemic. 

Therefore it is unlikely that you will get a fee refund if you are being given a range of learning opportunities. If you are not satisfied with the learning offer you are receiving, you should contact your university in the first instance to discuss your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you should consider your university complaints procedure. Your student’s union will also be able to offer advice and support.  

If you are still unsatisfied after following your university complaints procedure, you can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education for further advice. 

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education website has additional information for students in higher education during the pandemic. 

I am really struggling to complete my course by learning online and am worried how this could affect my grade. What assurances can you give?

The Welsh Government has agreed that all students may return to university for the summer term for blended learning. This will include online and in person learning.

If you are struggling, you should contact your university student services team as they will be able to discuss if there is any additional support they can offer. The Welsh Government has provided an additional £50m this year to help provide additional support, this could range from mental health support, digital support including help with devices etc. 

University campuses are open and you may access study spaces on campus. However, you should contact your university before you use facilities as we are asking all students to test before using on campus facilities and your university will let you know how to book asymptomatic tests before using those facilities and what arrangements are in place to ensure those facilities remain Covid-secure, such as booking in advance.

Universities are considering their policies and each university will make decisions regarding their provision based on their individual plans in light of the changing nature of the pandemic. Universities are responsible for the planning and delivery of their provision, and changes to assessment or assessment criteria is at the discretion of individual institutions as autonomous bodies.  

You should discuss any concerns about your studies or examinations with your personal tutor or course leader. They will be able to advise you of your options and alleviate your concerns.

If you feel that you are being unfairly treated or have not received the teaching or support you feel is acceptable you may wish to speak with the Students’ Union for advice or you can follow your University’s complaints procedure to make a formal complaint. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the complaint, you can inquire with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

How can I feel safe going back to university with the new variant?

Universities have a responsibility to make sure the learning environment is safe for students and staff and we have worked with our universities to provide guidance to ensure that all necessary measures will be in place to keep our universities our young people and our communities safe. You can find a copy of our latest guidance.

We all have a role to play to reduce the risks and protect one another by:

  • staying 2 metres, or 3 steps away from people you do not live with inside or outside (where permitted)
  • washing hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water and using hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are not available
  • wearing a face covering  when required (unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse not to do so, such as because of a specific disability).

To ensure our university students, staff and communities are safe we expect all students studying in Wales to book a test before they travel. This test before you travel will help to stop the spread of the virus, including new variants to the university community. It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure they book a test before they travel and not to travel if they test positive or have symptoms. This is how we will stay safe and keep Wales safe. Back on campus, we also expect all students to participate in asymptomatic testing on return.

University staff are also able to test regularly if they are required on campus.

The mass asymptomatic testing scheme is designed to mitigate the anticipated risk of Covid by helping to identify new cases early on. If you have a PCR test before you travel, that does not mean you haven’t caught the virus subsequently or when travelling. To minimise the risk we expect all students to  test regularly on campus for the first 28 days. It is the responsibility of all students to agree to this short period of testing, to help keep themselves, their housemates, their universities and our communities safe. Any student who does not participate in the asymptomatic testing will be expected to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival at their term time address.

Due to reasons beyond my control I am unable to return to my private rented term time address and yet I am still paying full accommodation costs. Is there support available?

In the first instance, students living in private rented accommodation should contact their landlord or letting agent if they are in financial difficulty and having trouble paying their rent.

Welsh Government is providing additional funding to support students most affected by the pandemic who are facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic. This would include helping those students with additional costs where their private landlord is not able to offer any help with changing rental agreements or cost of rent.

The funding will be available to all students by applying directly via their universities. You should contact your university or students’ union for further information about the support available to enable you to complete your studies.

Organisations such as Shelter Cymru and Citizens Advice are able to offer impartial advice and support should this be required.

Can I travel back to university in Wales?

Yes. There are no restrictions on travel within Wales and travel into Wales for education purposes is permitted. This includes moving to a term time address and commuting for students and staff.

You would have a reasonable excuse to travel from England, Scotland or Northern Ireland if you are travelling to access education.

Current restrictions would also allow international students to travel to the UK for educational purposes, although you would need to follow the appropriate quarantine rules when you arrive. Please contact your university before you arrive.

To reduce transmission of Covid-19 when arriving from overseas, international arrivals must follow border rules depending on where they have travelled from.

Please contact your university before you arrive as they will be able to let you know about the support they can offer.

International students arriving from an amber list country should see our guidance.  

I can’t study from home. Can I travel to university even if my course has not started?

Yes.

From April 12, all students will be allowed to travel to their university campuses and their term time address to access their education. Universities will be permitted to offer all students in person blended learning for the summer term.

You can travel to your term time address to enable you to study or access on campus facilities such as libraries, study spaces or studios.

Universities in Wales are open for on campus activity including laboratories, specialist academic libraries, appropriate study spaces or studios.

Remember you will be expected to book a test before you travel and on return to campus and your university will be able to let you know how to do that.

Can a family member drop me off at university?

Yes they can, but make sure the person is part of your household or extended household.

Before you travel make sure you book a test to reduce the risk of infecting the people you travel with.

Plan your journey and check for disruption before you leave to help keep everyone safe when travelling.

If you need to travel you should follow travelling safely guidance.

You should:

  • plan, and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times
  • keep your distance when you travel, where possible
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering on public transport in Wales unless you are exempt

Different rules may apply in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

If you travel by car the virus is highly likely to pass between the other people in the car. That is because you are in a confined space and small droplets from speaking, singing along to the radio and breathing will quickly fill that space and be breathed in by everyone in the car. We know these droplets are the main way the virus spreads.

Can I car share with another student/a friend to travel to university?

Yes you can car share with another student or a friend if you don’t have an alternative form of transport.

Before you travel make sure you book a test to reduce the risk of infecting the people you travel with.

If you travel by car you are highly likely to pass any virus to the other people in the car. That is because you are in a confined space and small droplets from speaking, singing along to the radio and breathing will quickly fill that space and be breathed in by everyone in the car. We know these droplets are the main way the virus spreads.

Plan your journey and check for disruption before you leave to help keep everyone safe when travelling.

If you need to travel you should follow travelling safely guidance.

You should:

  • plan, and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times
  • keep your distance when you travel, where possible
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering on public transport in Wales unless you are exempt

Different rules may apply in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How will student return in the new term be organised?

We have asked universities to organise a staggered return to campus, enabling students on different courses and different year groups to return on different dates.

Your university should communicate your return date with you as soon as possible.

If you are on a health care course, have a placement, practical elements or required laboratory hours, you may be asked to return as planned.

This may mean some students need to stay home longer than anticipated with online learning at the start of term.

We’ve asked universities to stagger the return to allow for every student to access the university testing pilot.

Students should get tested on return. Testing is an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus in student accommodation.

You should opt in to testing to help keep education open as this will also provide confidence in in-person learning.

Testing is important to help keep Wales safe. We know we will see cases as students travel from all over the UK and reform households. To minimise the risk of outbreaks we are asking all students to get a test, lay low for 3 days, so not to meet others from outside their household, not to go out other than to exercise with someone in the household or for essential medical reasons and then get another test.

Students need to work together and all agree to this short period of laying low, taking extra care and getting tested. This will help avoid mass outbreaks in student accommodation and repeated periods of self isolation next term.

A staggered start will enable universities to offer all students a Lateral Flow Test on arrival. All students should participate in the testing to help keep themselves, their friends and the community safe.

We want to minimise disruption to students’ education, but we need to continually take into account the risk of additional spread of Covid-19.

Can students use public transport to travel to university?

Yes, students can travel using public transport but the overall message is stick to the latest guidance. Please see the safer travel guidance.

Remember it is compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in Wales.

Before you travel make sure you book a test to reduce the risk of infecting other people while you travel.

In addition, we would recommend that you book in advance and plan ahead. The Transport for Wales Capacity Checker will help plan ahead.

Remember if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus or have been asked to self-isolate by a contact tracer you must stay home and cannot travel.

How can I access a test?

Before you travel book a test:

If you live in Wales or Scotland you will be able to book a free NHS COVID PCR test.

If you live in England you will need to book a test at your local community asymptomatic testing centre 48 hours before you travel. You will need to go online to your local authority website to book a test at a community testing centre.

You should take this test within 72 hours of your travel date. If this test is negative, you may travel to your university accommodation. If you test positive you must self-isolate and must not travel.

Before you access campus facilities you should book your first asymptomatic test  as close to your day of arrival as possible. If you test before travel and test as close to your arrival as possible, this will significantly reduce the risk of you spreading the virus.

If you test before seeing others, this will reduce the need for friends needing to self isolate as a result of being a close contact.

You should book your second test 3 days later.

We are asking students to take asymptomatic tests twice a week for the first 28 days back on campus. This is to reduce the risk of outbreaks and large numbers of students needing to self isolate. If we detect cases early because everyone is getting tested, we keep stop the virus spreading.

You will need to go to the university testing centre to take these tests.

What is the difference between laying low and self-isolating?

Laying low means not mixing with other people as much as possible, including those you live with, your contact group or household.

When you are with other people in your contact group or household, you should take extra care and maintain 2m social distance, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering in shared spaces and frequently clean shared areas including kitchen and bathroom facilities remember you should clean them thoroughly before and after use.

You should stay home but you can still go out for a walk or to exercise but this should ideally be on your own or someone you live with.

You should stay home and keep shopping to an absolute minimum. In alert level 4 you can only to go out for essential items, such as food or medicine only. If you can, you should try and book early to arrange an online delivery for when you arrive or bring enough supplies for the first three days if you can.

If you are worried about being able to lay low, please get in touch with your university.

Will my household all have the same arrival date and be asked to lay low together?

Not necessarily. Your arrival date will depend on which course you are on and what year you are in.

You should arrive back at your university accommodation, when you are asked to by your university, and remember to take extra care.

You may find that there are others in your accommodation laying low at different times over the coming weeks.

To keep safe, you will need to remember who is trying to lay low and help each other to minimise contacts and keep shared areas clean, wash your hands regularly and ensure good ventilation. It may be easier for everyone to keep contacts to a minimum in the first few weeks to help keep you all safe.

Will I be able to claim a rent rebate for those weeks that I have not been able to access my university accommodation?

Your rental agreement is between you and either your landlord or university.

As autonomous bodies, rental agreements are the responsibility of individual institutions or individual landlords. Universities have policies in place to support students with accommodation issues and more pressing hardship issues. However, these are the responsibility of the individual institution. I would advise you to discuss this with the university or your landlord.

There is further advice for tenants in the context of Covid-19 here.

Students may be entitled to refunds from certain accommodation providers depending on the terms of their contract and their particular circumstances. If you need help, organisations such as Citizens Advice offer a free service, providing information and support.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by the coronavirus. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly.

Will I be able to claim a fee rebate for those weeks that I accessed my course online only?

Term start dates vary across universities and by course or year group.

We would encourage students to discuss any concerns they may have about their studies with their tutor at their university in the first instance. Universities have adapted their learning since the pandemic and many have continued to provide innovative and creative ways to offer a variety of learning online. Your university will ensure that your learning is not disrupted by the staggered start in the new term and we have asked them to prioritise students whose courses require them to be on campus sooner rather than later.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the course, you should follow the university’s complaints process. If you remain unsatisfied with the outcome of a complaint, you can inquire with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

Can I move into my university accommodation?

Yes. Please book a test before you travel and book regular testing when you start using on campus facilities.

You should follow the advice on moving into shared accommodation here. In addition, you should not move into an HMO or other shared accommodation settings if any of the current tenants are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or self-isolating as a close contact (this would not include laying low as part of the advice on student return to accommodation). Before you plan your move, you should check to make sure that this is the case. Your landlord or letting agent may able to help you with this.

You should not move into an HMO or other shared accommodation settings if you yourself are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, or have been asked to self-isolate as a close contact. If you are shielding, you should consider whether moving home into an HMO or other shared accommodation is appropriate based on your medical needs, and seek medical advice if necessary. You should also let your university and the people you share with know that you have been shielding.

Where a home move into an HMO or shared accommodation setting is necessary and other people already reside at the property, additional precautions are necessary:

  • good respiratory hygiene practices should be followed, and you should wash your hands regularly
  • all hard surfaces should be cleaned with normal disinfectant, especially high touch areas such as door handles, window handles, WC handles, taps, basins and work surfaces
  • you should refer to the advice on cleaning and disinfection.

Testing

What is the objective of the mass testing programme?

The objective is to support as many students as possible to return to their term-time address in the new term with a greater confidence of the risk they may or may not pose to those they live with.

In addition staff at universities are able to access the testing.

How will this work?

  • We will test students and staff using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs).
  • We will aim to test individuals twice with a 3 day gap between tests. In-between tests, universities will be asking students to lay low.
  • If a student receives a positive LFD result they will need to immediately isolate at university in accordance with current guidance. 
  • A student testing positive will be advised to undertake a confirmatory PCR test through the usual symptomatic testing channels.

Where will the testing take place?

  • Testing will take place on campus. Universities are providing the facilities and staff to support this project.
  • Test kits, PPE and other supplies will be provided to the Universities by the Department for Health and Social Care from the UK Government in partnership with the Welsh Government.
  • These sites will vary in size and test capacity.  We anticipate that some universities will set up several sites, whilst others will set up just one.
  • Some universities will provide their own testing or testing in partnership with other universities.

How many students do you expect to test?

All students should get tested. This will help keep students, staff and communities safe as more in person activity resumes and we mix with others.  

Is this programme mandatory?

No.  This is a voluntary programme for universities, students and staff. 

We hope students will see this as the best way to keep their families, friends and university community safe and as a way to support them to stay on campus safely and to help in-person teaching continue.

What is the benefit of participation for universities?

Testing will help spot cases of Covid in those people moving around the country quickly and help stop the spread by breaking the chains of transmission.

We wish to give students and staff confidence to continue in-person education.

How will we engage with students and encourage them to participate? 

Student and staff engagement is critical to programme success. We will provide tools and resources to support participating universities in communications about testing and ensure consistency with national messages.

It is essential that everyone does their part to help stop the spread of the virus so we can look forward to a future when life can begin to return to normal.

What happens if I receive a positive test result?

If you receive a positive Lateral Flow Device Test (LFD) result you will be advised to immediately self-isolate.

We recommend that you get in touch with anyone you have been in close contact with and advise them to self-isolate. Let them know that they should self-isolate until 10 days after their most recent contact with you.

You should let your university know you have a positive LFD test so they can help with online learning and help you self-isolate safely.

You should book a confirmatory PCR test. If you receive a positive PCR result your contacts will be traced by NHS Test, Trace, Protect. 

If you receive a negative PCR test please inform your university and your contacts that they can stop self-isolating. 

Do close contacts of a positive LFD result still have to self-isolate?

Yes. In Wales contacts of individuals who have tested positive through the lateral flow test should self-isolate in line with normal regulations.

Students who test positive with the lateral flow test should inform their university and should let anyone they have been in close contact with (in the last 2 days) know and advise them to self-isolate. Close contacts should self-isolate until 10 days after the most recent contact with the person who tested positive.

Students who test positive using the lateral flow test will also be asked to take an NHS Covid test (known as PCR tests) as well.

If the PCR result is positive (and we are confident that it will be) close contacts will be traced by NHS Test, Trace, Protect.

If the PCR test is negative the student will need to inform the university and let their close contacts know that they can stop self-isolating. 

What about the risk of forming large bubbles and locking up students in halls of residence?

Students living in shared accommodation will be in a household. We have asked universities and accommodation providers to make it clear to students who are in their household and that this should be kept as small as possible and should be based on shared facilities.

If you share facilities like a kitchen and bathroom then this will increase the risk of you catching the virus if someone else also uses those facilities and this is why public health advice would be for everyone using those facilities to self-isolate, in the same way they would for a family living together.

Testing all students on return will help to stop the cycle of repeat periods of self-isolation as we hope it can stop the chains of transmission and keep the university community safe.

Any student who tests positive or shows symptoms will have to isolate for 10 days and so will anyone who has been a close contact. If you reduce your contacts and avoid mixing until you and your fellow students in your accommodation have all had two tests, you reduce the risk of being a close contact.

We have asked our universities to make sure they can support students who need to self-isolate. It is important that any student self-isolating during this period contacts their student services team so they can be offered support.

Support might include food deliveries, laundry services, buddy calls or video calls, health and wellbeing sessions or other online social activities.  If you are worried about someone who you know is self-isolating you should contact the university directly.

Who will cover the cost of this testing?

Students and staff do not need to pay for a test.

This is a UK Government scheme in partnership with the Welsh Government.

Have LFDs been validated?

We are confident that these tests are right for this use case.

A positive test result is 99.7% accurate, so we are confident that the test are as accurate as possible.

We do know that there is small chance that a test may return a false negative, and that is why we recommend taking two tests. In addition as the test is able to detect infectiousness, it is likely that a false negative may be because an individual is carrying less virus and are less infectious. We are also suggesting students take extra care to reduce their contacts before or after they return home as a test is only accurate for the point in time.  It does not stop you from becoming infected after the test.

Are you going to start testing like this at all universities?

All our universities in Wales have agreed to offer asymptomatic testing, either as part of the mass pilot or through other arrangements.

Cardiff University is using their own asymptomatic screening service.

There are many people in this country who need a test – why are you testing university students instead of other categories?

Asymptomatic testing uses a different type of technology and does not impact on the availability of the normal NHS test (PCR test).

We are using all of the technology and innovations at our disposal and are exploring and introducing new types of testing to be used by people without symptoms to allow regular checking on whether they have the virus. These will be quick and straightforward to use and will help identify people with the virus who may not have otherwise been aware. Student movement means there is a risk the virus will move from one place to another. We want to reduce the risk and asymptomatic testing will help us identify any person who has the virus, even if they don’t know because they do not have symptoms. Once we know someone has the virus we can make sure they undertake appropriate self-isolation to help reduce transmission.

If people are showing symptoms, they should follow the standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through gov.uk.

Can students refuse the tests?

Tests are not compulsory but will be an important tool to help students to protect themselves, their friends, family and wider community. 

In the new term those students who choose not to take a test will be asked to lay low  for 10 days instead at the start of term in their university accommodation. This is because they will pose a risk to everyone they live with and we need to be able to reduce the risk of transmission.

Will students be legally required to take a test to return to university in the new term?

No, it is not a legal requirement but will be an important tool to help students to protect themselves, their friends, family and wider community.

However, anyone who experiences COVID19 symptoms should follow the standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through gov.uk.

What is our current policy for testing students? Who owns the policy? Is it likely to change according to the infection rate?

This policy is owned by Welsh Government. We will be looking at how testing at our universities can be managed in the longer term. Testing will need to support our universities, students, staff, communities and the wider public health response to the pandemic. We will continue monitoring the situation and following Public Health Wales advice, adapting policies to best support students and providers.

General communities

Will Wales cap tuition fees next year like they have done in England?

There are no plans to raise the tuition fee cap that regulated higher education institutions in Wales may charge next year. It will remain at £9,000, £250 less than in England.

I’m an A level student aiming to start a university course next year. Will there be support available to help me catch up?

Welsh Government are working with practitioners, WJEC and universities to develop resources to support learners to progress to University.

Online resources will be available on Hwb and new resources will be added throughout the year.