Coronavirus – information and advice

Coronavirus – information and advice

Page updated 17/09/2020

We’re delighted to be moving forward with plans to once again welcome students onto our campuses and into our studios and workshops. We have made a number of changes to the way we work to keep our students, staff and local communities safe. This is all being done in accordance with government guidance and is being continually reviewed and updated.

We are planning to open our campuses this Autumn for the new academic year, and full details of term dates and teaching principles can be found on our UCA 2020 webpage.

We’re aware that students, parents and our local communities may have questions about the university’s approach regarding COVID-19, so we’re keeping the below FAQs up to date, as much as possible.

Please note - all advice, including social distancing, self-isolating and travel, are subject to changes as per government guidance. Please visit the government website for the very latest.


Health and Safety

  • What is UCA doing to keep me safe?

    We have adapted the way we work, remodelled our spaces and our introduced a raft of measures to keep our students and staff safe. Our spaces and activities have been risk assessed to make sure they fit with government guidance and Universities UK principles. The big changes include:

    • A full Health and Safety plan
    • Measures to support social distancing, including staggering timetabling, directional signage, maximum room occupancies, and the removal of surplus furniture
    • Mandatory wearing of face coverings (see below for further guidance)
    • New COVID-19 inductions for staff, and for students at MyUCA (only viewable once you're logged in)
    • Enhanced cleaning regimes
    • Protocols for suspected and confirmed cases and outbreaks (see below for further guidance)
  • What can I do to help prevent the spread of the virus while on campus?

    Please familiarise yourself with the guidance from government and be sure to check regularly - guidance will change in line with this very fluid situation.

    At UCA we have set out a Code of Conduct for our students and introduced a COVID-19 induction, which you’ll find here and is only available to UCA students via myUCA.

    All our students need to read and understand these before coming to campus as they set out how students are expected to behave and how they can keep themselves and others safe.

    Things you can do to stay safe on campus include:

    • Wash or sanitise your hands regularly
    • Keep tissues handy to catch and contain any sneezes or coughs and throw it away immediately.
    • Maintain social distancing
    • Follow directional signing
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Keep your work areas and equipment clean
    • Ventilate your working space
    • Wear a face covering, unless you're exempt
    • Take the next lift if it’s occupied
    • Talk to teaching staff or your manager if you need support
    • Self-isolate if you have symptoms
    • Report and suspected or confirmed cases to the university and via NHS test and trace.
  • What do I do if I start to feel unwell?

    If you become unwell with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 while on campus, you should do the following:

    • Leave the campus immediately and make arrangements to get home (avoiding public transport). If you need support to get home, please contact a member of staff to help you
    • Inform Campus Registry e.g. your Course Administrator, or your Programme Director at the earliest opportunity
    • Apply for a test if you are displaying symptoms. If you don’t have access to the internet, call NHS 119. Essential workers, which includes anyone involved in education or childcare, have priority access
    • Self-isolate as per government guidance, along with anyone in your household
    • In the event of a positive test you should share your contacts with Test and Trace.
  • What happens if my test is negative?

    If you test negative but you have been in close contact with a confirmed case, you need to keep self-isolating for 14 days from when you were last in contact with that person. It can take a number of days for your symptoms to develop, even if your test was originally negative.

    If you haven’t been in close contact with a confirmed case and feel well, you can stop self-isolating, and everyone you live with can stop self-isolating too. Please contact Campus Registry of your result.

  • What happens if my test is positive?

    If your test comes back positive, you should follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and continue to self-isolate with members of your household. Please inform your Campus Registry immediately. 

  • What do I do if someone I’ve been in close contact with develops symptoms?

    If you’ve been in close contact with someone who develops COVID-19 symptoms or who tests positive for the virus, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the date you were last in contact with that person. You should notify your Course Administrator, or your Programme Director, at the earliest opportunity. People you live with do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms.

  • How will the University support me if I’m self-isolating?

    In accordance with the Government’s guidance the University will support anyone who needs to self-isolate to stay away from campus.

    We will continue to communicate with students in self-isolation and provide support as required. This will include working with you to plan an optimal way to continue your learning and might include finding alternative work that you can complete at home.

  • What happens if there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus?

    The University’s Health, Safety & Wellbeing Team is going to work closely with the local health protection team (HPT) throughout and take the advice of the HPT in any event of positive cases.

    If multiple cases of coronavirus appear in the University, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will, if necessary, be assigned to help manage the outbreak. The University will keep students informed as any potential situation develops.

  • What happens if there’s a national or local lockdown announcement?

    We will have to follow government instruction - we outlined in our COVID-19 guidance sent to students recently that the following measures would be implmented:

    • Move learning and assessment online.
    • Explore the possibility of equipment hire from the university. Ensure that learning outcomes are covered within the year of study, and adjust assessment tasks accordingly
    • Provide alternative assessment where assessment can’t be delivered as originally planned
    • Provide extensions for units where necessary to cover course content, and for individual students if their circumstances require it.
  • What happens if there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 in halls accommodation?

    Our accommodation team has put together a plan of action, in the event of cases within halls.

    • If anyone in your halls develops symptoms you will have to self-isolate in line with government guidance. Food and other necessities will be delivered.
    • Avoid contact with your household as much as possible but if anyone in your household starts displaying symptoms, they must self-isolate, as set out in government guidance.
    • Any resident who develops symptoms will be asked to apply for a test. If you don’t have access to the internet, call NHS 119.
    • In the event of a positive test you should share your contacts with Test and Trace.
    • No cleaners will enter the flat/house during the self-isolation period to avoid cross contamination with other flats, and maintenance will only attend in emergency situations.
    • Residents must still evacuate if there is a fire alarm activation. They will be asked to muster at a separate point to the rest of the building and to take care not to touch bannisters as they leave the building.

Face coverings

  • Do I have to wear a mask or face covering?

    As of August 24, the wearing of face coverings is mandatory across our campuses. We ask all students, staff and visitors to campus to provide their own face coverings.

    Face coverings should be worn on campus in the following circumstances:

    • When moving around campus (indoors)
    • Where 2m social distancing cannot be maintained in teaching and learning and office spaces
    • In all refectory/café areas unless in the process of eating and drinking
    • In all library buildings, art shops and galleries; and
    • When using welfare and toilet facilities.

    Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

    • When eating and drinking in the refectory/café areas
    • In outdoor campus areas where social distancing is possible
    • If wearing a face covering impedes other personal protective equipment you need to wear
    • If you are working alone; and
    • If you have health, or disability reasons that mean wearing a face covering is not possible – PLEASE be respectful of those students and staff who cannot wear a face covering due to their exemption.
  • What face covering is acceptable?

    Your face covering should follow the current Government guidelines – it must cover your nose and mouth, be secured with ear loops or ties, and be made of a breathable material (i.e cotton) in either two or three-ply thickness (as per WHO recommendations). If your face coverings aren’t of the disposable variety, they should be washed regularly with your laundry – so it’s worth you having a number of them so you always have a clean and sanitised one to hand.

    Check out our blogs on how to make your own or where to buy the best ones.

    Students are advised not to wear face visors unless there is a health reason. Some front facing university staff will wear face coverings to help them carry out their roles, including teaching staff engaging with students in taught sessions.

  • I can't wear a face covering as I have a health reason or disability – what shall I do?

    If you have a physical, mental or disability reason that means you cannot wear a face covering, you do not have to. If you wish to, you are welcome to signal to others through an exemption badge or lanyard. The Government exemption card and badge scheme has a range of downloadable materials. There are several other initiatives, including:

    If you are wearing a face covering, and see someone who is not, we would ask you to please be respectful to them at all times.

Teaching and life at UCA

  • When will I be able to attend UCA and what is happening with our timetable?

    Term start dates have been finalised and you can view these, and our revised teaching principles in light of COVID-19, on our UCA 2020 webpage.

    Timetabling is particularly complex this year as we factor in social distancing and maximum room capacities and continue to respond to government guidance. We will share timetabling information with students at the end of September but please expect courses to be full-time as usual, with face-to-face teaching where it is safe to do so, and with enhanced online provisions.

  • What, on campus, will be open?

    We are currently planning on opening up as much as we can – as well as our teaching spaces, workshops and studios, our libraries, food and beverage outlets and arts shops will open with new safety and hygiene measures in place.

    There will be no public access – for exhibitions and events until the end of 2020.

    The Craft Study Centre at UCA Farnham is due to open in late September.

  • What will teaching look like?

    Please head over to to get the latest on what teaching will look like this term. We know how important in-person teaching is when you’re studying a creative subject, so we’re planning to open all our sites so that you can learn face-to-face with your tutors and fellow students as much as possible, in a way that’s in line with public health advice.

    Some online provision will be incorporated into the timetable.

    Classes will have a new look and feel – among the measures in place are extra time between classes for the safe movement of students and staff and to prevent queueing, using traffic flow systems in class and larger spaces to accommodate social distancing measures, and opening windows to ensure proper ventilation.

  • Can I work remotely, or do I have to come to campus?

    You will need to come to campus to undertake classes and other taught and practical sessions. There are exceptions for students that are unwell or self-isolating. Please speak to your Programme Director if you have any questions about this.

    There are a few options open to new international students joining us in 2020/21:

    • Join us here in the UK for your course by the 26th October 2020, at the very latest.
    • Due to visa delay or travel restriction, to follow the course online and join the course in the UK as soon as you can during the first semester or for the start second semester, or
    • Defer your entry, if this is available for your course, until February 2021 (please contact us for the full list of courses available in February 2021).
  • How much of my course will be delivered online?

    The mix of in-person and remote delivery varies from course to course. Your Course Welcome Guide provides some information on what this will look like for your course, and we’ll be in touch by the beginning of October with timetabling information.

  • What will teaching look like if there is a local lockdown?

    We are preparing to quickly move to online delivery of our courses should we be forced to close for a short period of time due to local or national lockdowns. Building on what we learnt during the first lockdown in March 2020, and having significantly boosted our digital infrastructure, we are confident our students will get a first-rate learning experience.

  • Will UCA be cancelling any study trips?

    We expect to able to run study trips in the future – domestically and, hopefully, abroad, too. However, all trips will be subject to whatever COVID-19 related restrictions are in place at that time. This is a fluid situation and we will have to respond accordingly when required.

  • What about library services?

    A complete guide on our library services is available here – it contains everything you need to know, from opening hours, archive access, borrowing and returning items, and study spaces.

    If you have books that you’ve not yet been able to return, then you have until 28 October to bring them back to campus.

  • I was supposed to be doing a student exchange this autumn, will this 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 and inform us of your chosen units.

    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 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, which you can visit here.

    For more information, please e-mail

    Outgoing Exchange

    If you 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 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).

    It is important to note the many travel restrictions which are still in place across the globe. While some countries are accepting visitors from overseas, others still have closed borders or significant quarantining measures in place.

    If you plan taking part in study abroad from January 2021, we strongly advise you to keep an eye on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice webpage and not to make any financial commitments in regards to travel and accommodation arrangements, unless you are sure that travel will be possible.

  • What activities does the Student Union have planned?

    Our Students’ Union has announced some fantastic, distanced, Freshers’ activities for all our students to enjoy this Autumn.

    There is a full programme of safe events, including an outdoor cinema, silent disco, and nerf gun target range. The events have been planned with government guidance principles built into them but please bear in mind these plans will continue to be reviewed.

    Please follow @ucasu on twitter and Instagram, and check the Student Union website for the latest updates.

Thinking of joining UCA?

  • Are Open Days still going ahead?

    In light of COVID-19, we’ve suspended our Open Days for the foreseeable future. However, we've created a Virtual Open Day experience for you online.

  • What about clearing?

    For information about our Clearing this year, please visit our Clearing webpage

Student support

  • What is being put in place by UCA to support student mental health?

    Our counselling service continues to work online with students suffering with mental health issues – if you wish to receive support or just want to find out more, visit our Counselling Services webpage, where you can fill out a form to apply for help if you feel you need it.

  • What external support and advice is there for students?

    If you have general questions about being a new student and starting university during these unprecedented times, the government has specific advice and help for prospective students.

    There’s also guidance for current students.

    These are also helpful links:

  • I’m a student who is now out of work and struggling financially, can UCA help?

    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 (PDF).

    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 -
    Epsom -
    Farnham -
    Rochester -


    If you are one of our pre-degree students, there is financial support for you too.

  • Can I get a refund on tuition fees?

    UCA is working hard to offer you a holistic learning experience, and course-specific COVID-19 guidance has been compiled for new and returning students, so you have all the information to hand about how your course will be taught, and what may happen in the event of future outbreaks or lockdowns. General teaching principles and more information can be found on our UCA 2020 webpage.

    Our terms and conditions of enrolment permit us to make changes course to 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.

    If you are not satisfied with our response to COVID-19 or to your concerns about how it will affect you personally, you may complain using our Complaints Procedure (PDF).


  • What is the university doing to keep my accommodation safe?

    We’re putting in place a number of measures to help keep you safe while staying in our accommodation – but these measures only work effectively with your support and co-operation throughout.

    Among the measures in place are:

    • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of ‘high touch’ areas (e.g. entrance doors, lifts, light switches and stair bannisters) and in communal areas
    • All halls of residence will have a fixed hand sanitiser station at key locations
    • Restrictions on visits from friends and family while households are being established, in line with government guidelines
    • Staggered arrivals at the start of term to ensure social distancing
    • Booking system to collect keys to prevent everyone arriving at once
    • Special fire muster points for households which might be self-isolating
    • Ensuring all visitors (including contractors) wear a face covering
    • Weekly health and safety checks in each flat and house (unless that household is self-isolating).
  • Is there anything I will need to do?

    As well as the measures the University is taking to enhance your health and safety in our accommodation, we’ll also be asking you:

    • To avoid close contact and remain socially distant from anyone you don’t live with or who is not in your household and to wear face coverings if you choose to mix with another household
    • Stick to government guidance regarding social gatherings
    • To maintain personal hygiene requirements as advised by government
    • To clean down frequently touched surfaces after you’ve used them and not to share cutlery or crockery
    • To carry your own personal alcohol-based hand sanitiser
    • Not to have overnight visitors*
    • Not to request a room move*
    • Only use the lift one at a time

    *to be reviewed after the first term.

  • What is UCA doing to support self-isolating students?

    We have long-established support services and lots of experience of monitoring the wellbeing of our students both on and off campus. If we find ourselves in a position where a student is having to self-isolate in our accommodation, or in private accommodation, we will contact them frequently to check whether they are ok or need further support.