Coronavirus – information and advice

Page updated 17/06/2020

We are operating remotely until further notice, our campuses remain closed.  Plans are in place for the reopening of campuses ready for the Autumn - find details on term dates and more at www.uca.ac.uk/2020

In the meantime, online teaching continues as normal.

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

An automatic extension of current and new loans in the library, and to loans of equipment from the Media Stores, are in place. 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:

  • Who should I notify when I cannot attend university online classes due to illness?

    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 if you are ill and/or have had a positive coronavirus test.

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

    Good hygiene and social distancing is the key to prevent the spread of the virus.

    • Please wash your hands regularly, for 20 seconds with soap and water. If you need to go out, wash them before you leave and as soon as you get back, 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 also feel that a mask or face covering (i.e. a scarf) will help if you are out but this is your choice.

  • How is UCA supporting community efforts during the COVID-19 crisis?

    Despite our campuses being closed, UCA has recently been able to help the nationwide effort to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the NHS and care industry.

    We’ve been able to donate 500 masks to care homes across Surrey, and we’ve also opened up our 3D printing facilities to our technicians, who have been working hard to print facial visors and printable ventilator parts for the NHS.

    We are endeavouring to do more – making scrubs and gowns for medical and care staff is something we’d like to do. However, we have to source the approved material required to make them and logistically work out how we enable staff to make the garments without compromising their health and safety.

    Our Catering and Facilities department didn't want the food and drink in our campus refectories going to waste, and so have arranged to have more than £500 worth of food, snacks and refreshments delivered to foodbanks and homeless charities across Surrey and Kent including:

    • Catching Lives (Canterbury)
    • Medway Foodbank (Rochester)
    • The Vine Centre (Aldershot)
    • Generation Foodbank (Epsom & Ewell)

    However, we also know that some staff and students are engaged in external community projects where they are working from home to help with the PPE effort, which we actively encourage and support. 

Student questions:

  • What is the University doing regards teaching?

    From March 23, elements of face-to-face teaching were replaced with online learning.

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

    Student accommodation remains open.

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

    Throughout this fast-moving situation, protecting and reassuring both students and staff has been a priority. We implemented a range of measures to protect students, which included replacing face-to-face teaching with online provision, providing visa advice for overseas students, and waiving rent for students who wished to move out of University accommodation. We have also increased the money available through our student hardship fund. We will continue to respond to the changing landscape by formulating plans to protect our student’s wellbeing.

    Where students are having issues with the use of technology, they should speak to their Programme Director to make them aware. We have instigated various case-by-case solutions to support students in online learning where we’ve been able to already.

  • How can I complete my work when there aren’t any extensions and I don’t have the equipment I need?

    All units that were due to be delivered and assessed from 1 March onwards have been considered by the relevant academic team in terms of how learning outcomes will be covered across the remainder of the year. Learning has been shifted online wherever possible and alternative assessments to cover any missing learning outcomes have been put in place so that students can successfully complete their academic year. Provision has been put in place for each and every unit affected.

    Students with individual adverse circumstances have been encouraged to contact us as they can still be awarded extensions in line with normal University policy. A blanket extension would not be in the best interest of students.

    With the adjustments our course teams have made to the expected outcomes for each unit, there is no expectation to use specialist equipment during closure. Where it feels appropriate and where it advantages students in relation to a given unit, marking will take into account students’ direction of travel and potential as demonstrated through interim assessment as well as any online assessment undertaken during this period.

    If you have mitigating circumstances that are particular to you, and not solely related to approved changes in delivery and/or assessment, please speak to your Programme Director.

     

  • What is going to happen with my graduation?

    It’s with a heavy heart that, in line with Government guidance, we have had to postpone our 2020 undergraduate graduation ceremonies.

    We have rescheduled the ceremony for 17 May 2021, taking place at Royal Festival Hall, London.

    We decided on this date in order to be as sure as possible that we could give students the most complete graduation experience as possible - time with your family and friends, the right venue and the grandest occasion.

    We will contact students early next year with details on how to book tickets for the event.

  • 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)
    • Proof of any income
    • 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

    If you are one of our pre-degree students, there is financial support for you too, which you can find details of here.

     

  • What is UCA doing to support students financially that have lost their jobs during this pandemic?

    The government’s Universities’ Minister, Michelle Donelan, has confirmed that the Student Loans Company is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that students will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates whether or not campuses are closed, or learning has moved online.

    If your paid employment has been affected by COVID-19 pandemic, you may find you and your employer are covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

    The Government has set-up the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment.  If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.  The scheme is due to cover a period of three months from 1 March 2020 and is expected to be up and running by the end of April. Find out more about the scheme and if you could be covered here. 

    Full guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available here.

  • What is being put in place to support student mental health in these unprecedented times?

    We are aware there is a lot of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result of the ongoing situation, we have been required to close our face-to-face services and instead move to online support. This includes our Counselling Service and we are currently considering how best to deliver this service to you. It is likely this will mean offering telephone/online/e-counselling, wherever possible to students.

    If you are already engaged with counselling, our counsellors will be in touch with you shortly to rearrange any face-to-face appointments and agree on how they can work with you over the coming weeks.

    If you are wishing to access the Counselling Service, please take time to read the information here and then download the Counselling Request form to request an assessment.

    We do need to let you know that we are experiencing high demand so we may not be able to offer you an appointment immediately. If you need urgent mental health support, please find more information on our Medical Emergency page.

    If you are seeking immediate emotional support, you may wish to consider contacting the Samaritans on 116 123 or SHOUT by texting Shout to 85258 – these services may be more readily available.

    The charity Young Minds has also produced a helpful guide online - click here for advice and tips on how to cope with self-isolating.

  • Will you use previous work to guide how you grade my work?

    We are using previous work as part of the assessment of learning wherever appropriate (i.e. supports specific learning outcomes). This has formed part of the contingency planning each course has developed to best support its students’ achievement in their current units.

     

  • How can you guarantee I am being assessed fairly when my project was not made to be for online purposes?

    We are using the learning outcomes, previous assessments and skills and creativity demonstrated in work in progress as well as online digital presentation of work to assess overall grades. Programme Directors have been advised to look for reasonable evidence of achievement, rather than penalising on basis of finish. All assessment will still be marked according to our university procedures and externally verified by external examiners on each course.

     

  • Will there be a blanket policy from UCA on how assessment will be taking place?

    The assessment strategy varies from course to course because the learning outcomes vary from course to course. However, there are blanket changes to rules that enables flexibility in each course to focus on achievement of learning outcomes through whatever evidence is available.

    Appeals and complaints will be accepted as normal.

  • Can I get a refund on my tuition fees?

    Following advice from the Government and Public Health England, in accordance with the Coronavirus Act 2020, and with protection of the health and wellbeing of all our students and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic uppermost in our thinking, the University closed its campuses and moved all teaching online from March 23.

    Our terms and conditions of enrolment permit us to make changes course delivery to abide by changes in the law and other regulatory requirements or guidance. While the present need to take these steps is beyond our reasonable control, the University is nonetheless committed to taking all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact on our students.

    We have done this primarily by:

    • Moving learning and assessment online
    • Looking at prior activity with a view to ensuring that learning outcomes are covered somewhere within the year of study and adjusting assessment tasks accordingly
    • Providing alternative assessment where the original assessment is not deliverable
    • Providing extensions for units where necessary for the learning and for individual students if their circumstances require it
    • Where the University is not the awarding body, following the validators’ exacting requirements for predicted and other grades so that students receive a final outcome commensurate with effort and aptitude
    • All actions that we have taken have been done on the basis that the Covid-19 pandemic does not impact negatively on your results and that the quality of your degree is protected.

    Our aim is to reopen facilities as soon as we can and work is underway to prepare for the return of our students in the Autumn, when we intend to deliver as much teaching as possible on campus in line with public health advice. You can find more information about the principles underpinning our approach here and we will be writing to you soon to provide you with the details of how we will be delivering your course when you return.

    We fully appreciate how difficult the current circumstances are for our students. We will continue to listen to your feedback and work with you to adapt our course delivery safely and responsively, attentive to the needs of students who are particularly vulnerable.

    If you are not satisfied with our response to the Covid-19 pandemic or to your concerns about how it will affect you personally, you may complain using our procedure. We will do our utmost to resolve your complaint within the bounds of what is possible at the time. The usual range of remedies will be available for any complaints that are found justified.

    Finally, we want to remind you that we are committed to protecting your health and wellbeing as well as your academic progress and achievement, and we welcome your support and partnership in this unanticipated and challenging time.

  • What about accommodation - do I get a rent break?

    Any students remaining in halls but who are experiencing financial difficulties should speak to the accommodation office. Rent will not be waived (as they are still residents) but a holiday period can be granted, and a payment plan set up once the lockdown is lifted.

    Students that remain in halls are paying rent. Students who were re-called back to their country of origin by their governments are only being charged up until the day they left.

    For those students who have gone home but are planning to return are being given a rent payment holiday until the point that they move back in. If students do not return, they will not be charged.

  • I was supposed to be doing a student exchange this autumn, will it go ahead?

    Due to current travel restrictions and the uncertainty about when these restrictions may be lifted, we have decided to postpone all incoming and outgoing autumn student exchanges to January 2021 so that students can enjoy and reap all the benefits of their study abroad experience.

    Incoming Exchange
    If you wish to join us in January 2021, please discuss your options with your university’s study abroad office. You will need to review our course catalogue again and inform us of your chosen units (we are in the process of updating the catalogue for January 2021 - this will be available from June).

    The application deadline to study at UCA in the spring term (starting January 2021) is 15 October 2020. Please visit our Study Abroad course catalogue (once updated in June) to find the application links for the courses and units that are currently available to incoming study abroad students for the 2020-2021 academic year: www.uca.ac.uk/study-abroad/incoming-students/partner-study-at-uca/

    Please contact Exchange@uca.ac.uk for more information.

    Outgoing Exchange
    If you still wish to take part in the study abroad programme in January 2021, please discuss this with your Programme Director. You will need to review the host university’s course offer again and discuss the units you intend to study with your Programme Director, paying attention to the number of credits you will need to achieve while abroad (30 ECTS – equivalent to 60 UCA credits). 

    If in the light of these news you intend to cancel your study abroad in January 2021, you must inform us by emailing Exchange@uca.ac.uk so that we can continue to support you with your studies here at UCA. Meanwhile, we strongly advise you not to make any financial commitments in regards to travel and accommodation arrangements.

  • What about my International Year?

    While we are hoping that you will still be able to undertake your International Year, you need to be aware of the current restrictions on travel and the lack of certainty about when these restrictions may be lifted. The health and wellbeing of our students is a top priority and it is at the forefront of all our decisions. At this point in time the current UK government advice is not to travel abroad unless it is essential, and this might possibly extend into autumn.

    Please monitor the Foreign Travel Advice and the British Council websites for updates, as well as the study abroad section of our partner university. We will also pass on updates to you as they become available.

    We will keep you informed as new data becomes available. Meanwhile, we strongly advise you not to make any financial commitments in regard to travel and accommodation arrangements.

    Please note: If the pandemic and the travel restrictions extend into September 2020, you will have to cancel your International Year plans. You will not be able to defer this, as the International Year has been built up in the course structure for Year 2 students only. If this does happen (and you have passed Year 2) you will proceed directly into Year 3 of your course at UCA in autumn 2020.

    If you intend to cancel your International Year, you must inform via Exchange@uca.ac.uk so that we can continue to support you with your studies here at UCA.

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 its Applicant Days.

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

     

  • What is happening with my results?

    Updated 03/04/2020

    The government has issued details on how A-levels and other exams will be assessed this summer.

    You can read the guidance here.

  • How do I upload my portfolio?

    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 will be sent an email informing you that a Portfolio Upload tool is available in your UCA Applicant Portal, which is where you'll submit your work. You'll also be sent an email if we need your portfolio by a certain date.

    Upload up to 12 examples of your work, including images, links and documents, showcasing a range of relevant skills, including your ability to develop a project or idea. 

    You can find more information here.

  • What about Open Days - are any taking place?

    As you may expect, at the moment we have no plans to run our Open Days for the forseeable future but willl resume them as soon as our campuses have reopened.

    In the meantime, we've set up a Virtual Open Day page, where you can find out about our campuses, accomodation, student life, the towns in which our campuses sit and take virtual tours.

  • When will I be able to use the university's facilities?

    We're currently following government advice very carefully, and will reopen only when it's safe for us to do so.

     

  • I've been told about Clearing Plus, what does it mean?

    This year, UCAS are launching a new service, Clearing Plus. The Clearing Plus tool enables some applicants to be matched to appropriate course(s) that are similar to the ones they have already applied to at some universities that have availability. You'll be able to express an interest in those matched courses and have the option to allow the university to get in direct contact with you.

    It is, however, only open to those students currently studying for the following – A-Levels, BTECs, Scottish Highers, Access to Higher Education Diploma, or International Baccalaureates. And, not all universities will be using the service, so we do recommend you still check with universities directly about your chosen course – we still would love to hear from you even if you don’t get matched to us through the service.

    Our own clearing page for 2020 will go live in due course, keep an eye on our website for updates.

  • I can’t attend my work experience through school or college, how can UCA help?

    We know the importance of work experience as you progress through your education – it gives you an extra layer of understanding about your chosen career and is often an ideal dress rehearsal for the workplace. With UCA, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to gain this vital experience, with many of our courses offering work placements as part of your learning – and we have a fantastic careers service who can help too. So, don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get the experience you need!

  • I was really looking forward to Student Union activities, like Freshers’ Week. Is anything planned?

    Our Students’ Union is working really hard to ensure that events will go ahead in some form when you join us. Of course, it’s important to stress that these events, including Freshers’ Week, may have to be modified to meet with any restrictions in place at the time they’re staged.

    That means that right now, it’s hard for us to say for sure exactly what will be taking place in your first weeks with us – but rest assured you’ll not only have something to enjoy, but as your time with us progresses, there’ll be plenty of student activities to enhance your experience.

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.

    If your visa expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, you must contact the Home Office. You’ll be allowed to stay in the UK until 31 May 2020 if you can’t leave because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.

    You could also switch to a visa that allows you to stay after 31 May 2020.

    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:

  • 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.

    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.