Coronavirus – information and advice

*Page updated 26/03/2020 in line with the most recent government advice and announcements, for more detailed information please see: gov.co.uk *

In line with the government’s announcement raising the risk of contracting Coronavirus, or COVID-19, to high, UCA is following official advice. 

In light of the government’s decision to close all pubs, restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, leisure centres and gyms on Friday, we have decided that we too, should follow suit, and operate remotely until further notice.  

Online teaching continues as normal.

It is important to reiterate that while the university campuses will close, accommodation will remain open to those students who aren’t able to return home for whatever reason. The accommodation team will remain in contact with those students, and all of our students can continue to access learning and support online through myUCA.

There will be an automatic extension of current and new loans in the library, and to loans of equipment from the Media Stores. We are currently updating the system to make the necessary changes so if you get any notifications to return items in the meantime these can be ignored - there is no need to return any items even if asked to do so until Monday 28 September.

In addition to our facilities, certain events have been cancelled or postponed for 2020. This includes Graduate Fashion Week, which has been cancelled, our FE and Undegraduate Graduation Shows and summer graduation ceremonies have been postponed. (Students will still receive their qualifications if they meet the conditions – it’s just the ceremony that’s being postponed). There will be a digital exhibition of graduating students’ work this summer, and we will keep all our current final year students informed about our plans for rescheduling their graduation ceremonies.

Please understand these are not decisions we have taken lightly. We are doing what we think is right for you – for your health and for your safety. This is paramount to us, and while we wish we could have continued along the path we’d set up, with online teaching and workshop learning, we realise it just isn’t possible as the pandemic deepens.

Thank you to all students for everything you have done to help us minimise the risk throughout our University, and please continue to exercise that same responsibility and self isolation back at your homes, protecting your friends, your families and the people around you.

Together, by doing this, we can flatten the curve and, hopefully, re-open sooner.

We reiterate the government advice - please, stay at home until instructed otherwise. Full guidelines can be found here.

We’re aware that students, colleagues and parents may have questions about the current situation regarding Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and the University’s position, and we’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions to help you with immediate concerns. 

General questions:

  • How could I contract coronavirus?

    According to the NHS, because COVID-19 is a new illness, it is unclear how the disease is transmitted from person to person but similar viruses have been spread through cough droplets or through touching a surface or object that has been contaminated, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes (e.g. touching a door knob then wiping your nose).

    It is very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

  • What are the signs and symptoms?

    The incubation period for this particular virus is between two to 14 days after coming into contact with it. This means you may feel perfectly well for up to two weeks before presenting symptoms. Those symptoms may feel much like the flu, but specifically features:

    • A persistent, dry, cough
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Fever 

    The government advises that if you have either of the following, you should begin to self-isolate:

    • A high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to take your temperature)
    • A new, continuous, cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes within a 24-hour window (if you usually have a cough it will be worse than usual)
  • Who is it most likely to affect?

    No-one is immune to this virus, however it is likely to cause more severe symptoms in certain groups.

    Everyone should do what they can to prevent the spread and protect one another, especially the over-70s, people with a long-term conditions, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

    This means saying indoors as much as possible, only going out for essential food shopping, as infrequently as you can manage, for essential work and for one exercise trip (walk, run, cycle) a day, either alone or with members of your household.

  • What should I do if I start to feel unwell?

    If you – at any point – have a high temperature OR a new, continuous, cough, you must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone. If you live with others, and you – or anyone else – has symptoms, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

    There is now a helpful graphic - which outlines how long you should self-isolate for across a range of potential scenarios.

    Do not go to your local GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If your symptoms worsen, or you are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency call 999.

    Self-isolating means:

    • Staying at home, not going to work or any other public area
    • Staying at least two metres away from other people in your home wherever possible, and if you can, sleeping alone.
    • Regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds at a time
    • Staying away from older people or those with long-term health conditions
    • Getting food delivered at home
    • Drink plenty of water and take everyday painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to help with your symptoms
    • Do not shake dirty laundry
    • If you have high-risk people in your household, for example an elderly relative, try to make arrangements for them to live with someone else for this time (i.e. friends or family)
    • If this is not possible avoid them as much as you possibly can.

    You must not have visitors to your home.

    You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise once a day - alone or with members of your householf, but you must steer clear of anyone else you may encounter of that trip.

    The BBC has produced a helpful video exploring self-isolation further.

  • Who should I notify when I cannot attend university due to self-isolation?

    We have a duty to you and to the rest of the UCA community to know when somebody is unwell or concerned that they may become unwell.

    Please contact us immediately by email to welfare@uca.ac.uk (cc in your Programme Director) if you need to tell us any of the following:

    • That you have been diagnosed with coronavirus
    • That you are self-isolating because you have been told to by a healthcare professional
    • That you are self-isolating because you are worried about catching coronavirus because you have a pre-existing health condition
    • That you are self-isolating because somebody in your home or family has a pre-existing health condition
    • That you are self-isolating because you have a persistent cough and/or high temperature
    • You are away from campus for any other reason

    When you contact us please include: your name, your student number, where you are staying while you are in isolation.

  • What should I do if I am living with someone who is self-isolating?

    If you are living with someone who is self-isolating, then you, too, should be self-isolating on government guidance.

    We hope that you feel able to support them in the same way that you would anyone who was incapacitated through challenging circumstances. While the coronavirus situation is ongoing, we are advising all our students to help protect their own health and wellbeing through hygiene measures, including:

    • Staying away from communal areas and not sharing the space. Keep your own crockery and cutlery separate from each other
    • Staying more than two metres away from each other at all times to prevent spread
    • Regular handwashing with soap and water
    • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue if you feel the need to cough, or sneeze
    • Using antibacterial gels and wipes
  • Should I be worried by students wearing protective face masks?

    Please don’t be alarmed if you see other students wearing masks. Use of face masks is widespread in some cultures and advised by some governments. It is important that we recognise and respect this custom. The NHS states masks do not offer much in the way of widespread benefits.

     

  • How can I help to prevent the spread of the virus?

    Good hygiene is the key to prevent the spread of the virus.

    • Please wash your hands regularly, for 20 seconds with soap and water. Wash them when you arrive on campus and when you get home, before and after eating food, before and after using the toilet, and after any cough or sneeze.
    • If you do not have access to washing facilities for whatever reason, use a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content.
    • If you are in our halls or shared private accommodation, it is CRUCIAL you keep all surfaces in communal areas clean, using antibacterial spray or wipes, and ensure all your crockery and cutlery is kept clean and not left out where it could be susceptible to coming into contact with germs.
    • Ensure when you’re preparing food you keep kitchen areas clean.
    • If you feel the need to cough, or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and as soon as you’ve used the tissue, bin it and wash your hands. 

    You may see some people choose to wear a face mask. This is their choice and for some people is part of their cultural response, so it is important to respect that choice. While the NHS states masks do not offer much in the way of widespread benefit, masks may bring peace of mind to the user.

Student questions:

  • What is the University doing regards teaching and other events?

    From March 23, we are replacing elements of face-to-face teaching with online learning.

    Workshops, studios, the canteens, Student Union facilities, clubs and societies and libraries are now closed.

    Student accommodation remains open.

    Students will be able to attend campus to continue their practical work, with small group teaching in studios on a technical basis and larger studio sessions split into smaller groups as part of social distancing procedures.

    Face to face teaching will be replaced with online provision, via MyUCA.

  • I am anxious about the coronavirus. How do I access support?

    If you are concerned, worried or anxious you can contact the Gateway team, who are available during office hours to listen and offer emotional support.

    If you are able to, you can come to the Gateway desk in your campus Library and speak to one of our Advisers. Otherwise you can telephone or email the team:

    Canterbury - 01227 817 314 - gatewaycanterbury@uca.ac.uk  
    Epsom - 01372 202 461 - gatewayepsom@uca.ac.uk
    Farnham - 01252 892 709 - gatewayfarnham@uca.ac.uk
    Rochester - 01634 888 734 - gatewayrochester@uca.ac.uk

    However, please note that Gateway staff are unable to give medical advice. If you need medical advice and think you have symptoms, even mild ones, begin self-isolating. If your symptoms worsen, or you are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency call 999.

  • What is going to happen with my graduation?

    It’s with a heavy heart that we have had to postpone our 2020 undergraduate graduation ceremonies. We can’t anticipate what the Government guidance in relation to social distancing will be this June, and we’d rather our students didn’t have to live under the shadow of a last minute cancellation. We will have a celebration for you, and will start making the arrangements as soon as feasibly possible. 

  • What is going to happen to my final year Degree Show?

    Unfortunately, because of the current situation, we’ve had no choice but to postpone our Degree Shows for our FE and undergraduate students. These were due to happen in May and June. However, we have been working with a design agency on the creation of an online Graduate Showcase Portal so all students will have the opportunity to display their work to friends, family, industry and indeed the world. The digital design agency we have commissioned are working with UCA’s marketing and IT department to deliver this ready for the beginning of May, ready for us to begin uploading content in advance of its launch. Each course will have their own space to upload graduate projects and sample work. Details on how to do this will be disseminated at the beginning of May, so more information will follow. This will be a good opportunity to show the world just how talented and creative we are whatever the circumstances we’re working in.

    Our Postgraduate Degree Shows, due to take place in August and September, are still scheduled to take place at this time.  

  • I’m now out of work and struggling financially, what can I do?

    The University does have hardship funds available to support you, if you are unable to work due to COVID-19 and are experiencing financial difficulties, such as an inability to pay rent or afford ongoing living expenses.

    The Financial Assistance Fund is open to any Home student studying a BA or MA degree and who has taken advantage of the full range of financial support available to them. (e.g. government loans).

    Any Home student can apply but you will be considered a priority if:

    • You have children (especially lone parents)
    • You’re a mature student especially those with existing financial commitments, including priority debt
    • You’re a student from a minority ethnic group
    • You’re a disabled student
    • You’re a care leaver or young carer
    • You’re in supported housing or are homeless
    • You’re receiving the final loan rate and in financial difficulty
    • You're estranged from your family but have not been accepted as an independent student by SFE

    To apply, please complete the Financial Assistance Fund form.

    As part of your application, you will need to submit supporting financial evidence to support your claim of hardship due to the change in your work and personal circumstances.

    This evidence can include, but is not limited to:

    • Three months bank statements 
    • Proof of rent (such as a tenancy agreement)
    • Student finance award notice 
    • Proof of any change of circumstances

    If you feel that you will need some financial help in the coming weeks or have questions about the application process, please contact your campus Specialist Adviser:

    Canterbury: AdviceCant@uca.ac.uk
    Epsom: AdviceEps@uca.ac.uk
    Farnham
    AdviceFarn@uca.ac.uk
    Rochester: AdviceRoch@uca.ac.uk

     

International questions:

  • My visa is due to expire, but I am unable/unwilling to travel, what should I do?

    The UK Government has the latest information in relation to visas.

    Anyone from China in the UK on a visa that is unable to travel home due to travel restrictions that has a visa that expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 will automatically get a visa extension to 31 March 2020. You do not need to do anything to receive this extension and your existing visa conditions will continue. You will not receive a new visa for this period, but you can request a letter confirming the extension if required by contacting the UKVI helpline for coronavirus. If you are able to you can extend your leave from inside the UK during this period (for example to study a further course or switch into a different visa category.

    If you are not a Chinese resident but are normally resident in China you will need to contact the helpline to receive this extension.

    Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

    Calls are free of charge.

    Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

    We will update with any further extension to this as soon as the UKVI confirm.

  • Will my visa be at risk if I have to self-isolate?

    If you are required to be absent from University due to a period of self-isolation due to Coronavirus, it will not cause any repercussions for your visa in the UK. If this applies to you, please keep us informed of your status and we will authorise any absence within reason.

    Everything else you need to know about your visa can be found here.

    If you feel you need to return home for any reason, please read the next question and answer on this list.

  • I want to travel home because of the situation, will my visa be at risk?

    Students should not be leaving the UK at this stage, it is still term time. However, if you decide to leave the UK against this advice we will, of course, do all we can to support you.

    It is important to know that leaving the UK now could mean you have difficulties returning at a later date and it could impact on your ability to complete your studies.

    You may need to formally interrupt your studies if you are planning to stay outside of the UK for more than a week or two during term time. 

    We understand that you may decide to travel home regardless of this and if so we would ask you to let us know as soon as possible. We need to know where you are because we have a legal obligation in relation to your visa and your wellbeing.

    If you plan to return home, email welfare@uca.ac.uk confirming your name, student ID number, the date you plan to leave/left the UK and the date you plan to return (if you know that now).

    Let your course team know that you are not going to be attending any scheduled teaching and check what provisions are in place to support you. You should stay in touch with your course through email and through myUCA and engage in all distance/online activities that are arranged by the course team.

    Before planning any travel you should check the UK government’s latest travel advice.

    Please note: if you do not return to the UK to complete your course, or if you cannot complete it from your home country, then we will have to withdraw our sponsorship. We have to be sure that we can meet all our compliance requirements and responsibilities to you and to the UKVI.

  • I’m struggling financially, what can I do?

    The University has committed additional funds to support our EU and International students who may be in financial hardship while living away from their home country.

    To apply, please complete International/EU Fund form.

    As part of your application, you will need to submit supporting financial evidence to support your claim of hardship due to the change in your work and personal circumstances.

    This evidence can include, but is not limited to:

    • Three months bank statements 
    • Proof of rent (such as a tenancy agreement)
    • Student finance award notice 
    • Proof of any change of circumstances

    If you feel that you will need some financial help in the coming weeks or have questions about the application process, please contact your campus Specialist Adviser:

    Canterbury: AdviceCant@uca.ac.uk
    Epsom: AdviceEps@uca.ac.uk
    FarnhamAdviceFarn@uca.ac.uk
    Rochester: AdviceRoch@uca.ac.uk

Travel questions:

  • How is UCA managing people returning from affected areas?

    We have been monitoring all staff and student travel since the outbreak. Returning travellers are being advised to self-isolate for the 14-day incubation period. However, now the government has moved to the “delay” phase of its response, this is no longer our main focus of attention – our main focus now is to ensure the proper hygiene of staff and students and support for those who are self-isolating with symptoms.

  • Will UCA be cancelling study trips?

    We have decided, until further notice that all international travel for our students and our staff is postponed. Domestic trips will be assessed on a case by case basis, but with many museums and events being cancelled it is likely these trips will not take place. We understand that this is a very fluid situation and government advice could change depending on what happens with the spread of the virus.

  • How will the outbreak impact on my future travel plans?

    As always we are following the advice provided by Foreign and Commonwealth Office when we monitor any student or staff travel to any nation. We suggest all staff and students with travel plans do the same.

    As of March 17, travel to a number of countries is limited or not possible due to each country's specific response to the virus. Many borders are closed, and you should check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's specific travel advice  page to see whether the country you plan to travel to is affected.

Applicant questions:

  • I have an Applicant Day coming up – is it going ahead?

    To protect your health and safety during this this time, and to minimise contact, the University has decided to suspend our Applicant Days for the coming weeks until April 20.

    If you have an Applicant Day booked between now and then, we will invite you to submit your portfolio digitally. You have until the date your Applicant Day was due to take place, or 6 April (whichever date is later), to do this.

    Don’t worry – submitting your portfolio digitally won’t affect your application in any way, and you can add a description about the work you upload to allow you to shine just as you would if you were visiting us on campus.

    You can upload up to 12 examples of your work, including images, links and documents. It should showcase a range of relevant skills, including your ability to develop a project or idea. We will contact you by email to explain how to upload your portfolio. 

    If you have any questions, please email admissions@uca.ac.uk and our team will be able to guide you through the process.

    Students who have an Applicant Day after April 20 should remain patient and assume their Applicant Day is still going ahead. We are, of course, continuously reviewing the situation and are optimistic we’ll be able to resume them after this date.