Studying At Essex

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) University guidance for applicants

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Advice for applicants applying to the University

We know you will be concerned about what the impact of COVID-19 means both for your university application and, for your university experience when you start with us.

We have been working hard to ensure that our applicants are able to start with us – in whatever way possible – and have focused on:

  • Measures to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff;
  • Ensuring the value, quality and transformative nature of an Essex Education is maintained and;
  • Developing contingency arrangements to manage any further impact of COVID-19 on the next academic year.

We are monitoring and following all advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation. We review and update our guidance daily, so do check back regularly.

Information about applying to Essex and starting your course

As an enquirer or applicant to the University of Essex, we will keep you updated on the steps we are taking to limit the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on our community. These pages contain important information for prospective students about applying to and starting your course at the University of Essex. We will update this regularly.

If you are a current student, please refer to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) guidance on our Student Directory.

We are undertaking a programme of work to ensure that we manage the impact that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) might have on students who will be joining us for 2021-22 entry. We will continue to monitor changes to the external environment as they develop, and update our plans in response to new developments and advice.

Whether you are worried you might not get your final exam transcripts; that you might not be able to arrive on campus in time; or you are concerned you won’t be able to travel to one of our campuses for the start of the new academic year – we are working hard to find solutions that will work for you, and have provided more information in the Q&As which we will keep updated as things change.



Read our application specific information

COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination

Some treatments provided by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is free for everyone. This includes coronavirus tests and treatment, as well as vaccinations against coronavirus. The NHS has detailed information about coronavirus on its website.

The UK currently has a vaccination programme in place that is on schedule to have over 18 year olds vaccinated by the end of July 2021. It is therefore anticipated that when international students arrive in the UK to commence their studies in Autumn 2021, they should be able to receive a free coronavirus vaccination. Information will be provided to students as part of their registration process.

Joining us this year

About your teaching

How will my course be taught? 

In planning for next year, we are balancing our desire to offer the best possible campus experience for you with the need to maintain the safety of our community. There may be restrictions and mitigations in place for activities taking place on our campuses, including for in-person teaching events. These will be based on the latest UK Government guidance and the measures we want to take to maintain your safety. How you are taught will vary between courses and departments. Most of our teaching programmes will be taught in a way that blends in-person classes with a range of online lectures, teaching, learning and collaborative support to deliver a high quality education. The combination of different types of learning opportunities will be tailored to the learning outcomes of your course. This may include:

  • Webinars; 
  • Lectures and tutorials in the University’s virtual learning environment;
  • Collaborative discussions; 
  • Group project work using social media or other meeting platforms like ZOOM, WhatsApp or Messenger.

There will also be other ways of learning, designed to enable you to engage more easily and manage your workload. It will also help develop your deeper understanding of the topic. This will usually involve:

  • Self-directed study; 
  • Readings and; 
  • Online tasks.

Your Department will be in contact with you to provide more information about your planned teaching programme during July 2021.

We are dedicated to delivering a quality, transformative education and to supporting you to succeed in your studies and in preparing for your future.

Why are we not moving back to standard teaching given that schools/UK Government has announced a roadmap for removal of need for social distancing etc? 

Protecting the health and wellbeing of our students while delivering a high-quality education guides everything we do. Despite very positive signs that the vaccination programme is limiting COVID transmission in the UK, we cannot guarantee that we will be unaffected by pandemic-related restrictions at any point during the next academic year.

Our approach to planning for the academic year 21-22 will ensure that we will be able to offer all of our students a transformative, campus experience; with flexibility to adapt to periods of heightened COVID security if needed. Our priority will always be to ensure your safety while supporting you to continue with your education - irrespective of any further disruption caused by the pandemic

We will comply with all Government guidance, and in addition to this will make our own additional judgements about what works in our campus environments. We have all learned a great deal from our experiences of the last year, and we will be ready to flex our approach to teaching if the circumstances require.

What if there are further periods of lockdown? 

We will do all we can to make sure that your teaching and learning continues uninterrupted in the event of further disruption or interruption over the course of the 2021-22 academic year. Our approach ensures that if things need to change, we can move to online only teaching at any point.

We expect that most teaching will be delivered on campus but with appropriate COVID-19 secure measures – such as supporting vaccinations across our student and staff community; regular COVID testing; managing a track and trace system; supporting students to quarantine and self-isolate; etc

 Will I be expected to come onto a campus for my teaching? 

We expect our students to join us on our campuses for the start of term, and we are optimistic that progress in implementation of the UK vaccination programme. While we expect all our students to return to campus next year, we will continue to offer a level of flexibility for students unable to arrive at our campuses for the start of term due to COVID-19 restrictions (perhaps due to travel restrictions) to start their learning remotely.

The latest date you will need to arrive on campus varies by programme and department. Details of the steps you should take if you are unable to arrive on our campus for the start of term will be available nearer the start of term, and we will circulate information in August.

Can I study for my degree online?

The University of Essex is a campus-based university. We offer our students a distinctive, on-campus, living and learning experience, and our students benefit from being on our campuses, sharing their Essex learning experience with fellow students and being part of our rich and diverse community.

You will receive further information from the department you have applied in July, and this will explain more about your specific teaching and assessment arrangements. It will also include detail of the latest date for arrival on-campus, where appropriate. You will also be able to find out more about how teaching will be delivered on our  department pages .

Can I study from home for the whole year?/ Do I need to attend face-to-face classes at any point this year?

We want as many of our students to join us on campus as possible; you are not applying for an online degree. We expect that if you need to begin studying online, that you will join us on campus as soon as you can.

The latest viable date for students to arrive on our campuses varies depending on your department and programme of study. To find out more please visit our department pages which have further details about how teaching has been delivered this year. These pages will be updated in July when we have more information, so please check back again over the coming weeks.

If you are an East 15 Acting School applicant, please refer to their website for updates on term information.

If I am unable to arrive on campus for the start of term and need to begin my course remotely, what level of digital access will I need to study remotely?

You will need to have access to ZOOM. We also use an online virtual learning environment called Moodle, where you can access course-related resources such as your reading lists, and an online assessment submission portal.

You will need to ensure you have a suitable internet connection to access all of these and we would recommend a laptop or desktop PC over a tablet or phone. Further advice about what is needed to get started is available on our Getting Started guide. If you have specific IT issues, contact the IT Helpdesk as soon as possible so we can help get you up and running.

Can I still come onto campus/use facilities if a further lockdown means that teaching has to be moved online at some point during the academic year? 

Even if your teaching moves to online only at some point during the academic year, you will be able to come onto campus and access our study spaces and wider facilities.

In some circumstances we might need to control the number and capacity of on-campus activities to make sure social distancing is maintained and this might mean limiting the number of people using our facilities at any one time. All student services will continue to operate, whether in person or remotely.

What learning spaces are available on campus?

We have kept learning spaces open on our campuses throughout the current academic year, and used a booking system to manage COVID secure arrangements. We expect more of these to be opening up over the next few weeks.

You can find out more about available learning spaces/IT equipment across all three of our campuses on our Student Directory

There are also a range of other study areas including quiet study areas, labs and pods.

I am coming to the UK to start my PSE course but am from a red list country. What does this mean and what help is there from the University?

If you need to arrive in the UK prior to the 3 September and are required to quarantine, you will need to stay in a Government-approval hotel at cost of £1,750. 

We will reimburse the cost of the Government-approved hotel provision once you have commenced your main programme of study. Further information about claiming back this cost will be available soon.

Further information about Government-approved hotels is available here.

About you Health and Wellbeing

How do I know it will be safe to travel to the UK/to any of the campuses? What are the COVID-19 secure measures adopted for the campuses.

Our campuses have remained open throughout the past year; they have continued to provide a home from home to thousands of students, who we have looked after during the pandemic.

We follow all national and international guidance on the numbers of students and staff to our campuses. This includes having steps in place to manage further waves/variants of COVID-19. Measures so far have included: 

  • Enhanced cleaning and hygiene regimes;
  • Social distancing; 
  • Providing face coverings for all staff and students;
  • Providing antibacterial gel at key and frequent locations;
  • Health services available local to all campuses.

We have taken extensive measures to ensure that members of our community on our campuses are safe and have the essential services they need. We have also been running a programme of events and activities for our community to engage in online, whether they are on campus or elsewhere.

We will use the experience of last year to continue enhancing our offer for 2021-22 academic year.

How do I know if I need to quarantine on arrival in the UK? 

The UK Government regularly updates travel guidance for red, amber and green listed countries, and the latest information is available on the UK Government website.

The University of Essex will follow all Government guidance in planning arrival and quarantine arrangements for new and returning students so please check the Government website regularly.

I need to quarantine/self-isolate on arrival in the UK ready for the start of the 2021-22 academic year. What arrangements are the University putting in place?

The guidance below is based on UK government guidance and therefore is subject to change as and when changes and updates are made. 

Students from red list countries

Current UK requirements are that students arriving from red list countries must quarantine for 10 days.

On-campus accommodation (subject to availability):

If the UK Government allows, the University will provide students with an accommodation allocation for the academic year 2021-22 and who arrive from red list countries, the opportunity to stay in on-campus accommodation for their period of quarantine (this will be in place of the Government-approved quarantine hotel provision). 

This on-campus accommodation will be free of charge until the 3 October (when normal accommodation tenancy starts).

When you receive your accommodation and once you have accepted this offer, you will be invited to make a booking for the free accommodation in order to quarantine. You will be able to arrive from 3 September. 

On arrival, you will quarantine in designated accommodation for ten days (or as per Government requirements if this changes). You must arrive between 3 September and 10 September to ensure that you have completed your quarantine period by 20 September. If you arrive after the 10 September, you will need to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for your quarantine period.

At the end of your period of quarantine, you will move to your permanent term-time address.

Government-approved hotel provision:

If the UK Government does not allow the University to accommodate students during their quarantine period (or you arrive outside 3 – 10 September), you will need to stay in Government-approved hotel provision. The University will reimburse this cost providing you registered and do not leave the University before November.

Further information about claiming back this cost will be available soon. 

Further information about Government-approved hotels is available here.

If you are planning to live in private sector accommodation, you will need to quarantine in Government-approved hotel provision.

Students from amber list countries who need to self-isolate?

Current UK requirements are that students arriving from amber list countries must self-isolate for 10 days but do not need to be in dedicated quarantine hotels.

If you have an Accommodation Essex accommodation allocation for the academic year 2021-22, the University will be offering on-campus accommodation for your period of self-isolation. Current UK requirements means that students arriving from amber list countries must quarantine for 10 days.

This accommodation will be free of charge from your day of arrival until the 3 October (when normal accommodation tenancy starts).

When you receive your accommodation allocation and have accepted this offer, you will be invited to make a booking for the free accommodation in order to self-isolate. You will be able to arrive from 13 September. 

On arrival, you will move in and self-isolate in your term-time room, if this is available. If your term-time room is not available, you will self-isolate in on-campus temporary accommodation and then move to your permanent term-time address at the end of your period of self-isolation.

If you are planning to live in private sector accommodation, you will need to self-isolate in your private sector accommodation on arrival.

 

What can I expect from my period of time in quarantine/self-isolation if I am in University accommodation?

You will receive a kitchen pack, bedding pack, food pack and cleaning pack free of charge. A laundry service will also be available. Support will be provided to facilitate Tesco deliveries to flats at the Colchester Campus (details to be confirmed) and Sainsbury’s deliveries to the flat at the Southend Campus. 

Any post/parcels you have delivered to the University, will be delivered to your flat door.

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service is here to support your health and wellbeing throughout your time at Essex. One of the friendly Wellbeing Assessors will contact you via your university email address during your period of quarantine to make sure you have the support you need. The Wellbeing Assessors can also provide advice and support on areas such as personal, welfare, emotional/mental health concerns on weekdays across all campuses. If you want to book a virtual meeting or call with one of the Wellbeing Assessors you can do this via the appointment request form

Our friendly Residence Life team host a range of social activities for students living on and off campus, for you to participate with and meet new friends and make new connections.
The Students’ Union will also be organising a broad range of virtual and in-person activity; further information will be available nearer the beginning of the new academic year.
We will also be offering a range of online activities to help you prepare for your time at Essex.

Additional information for students from red list countries

In order to comply with UK Government requirements, it is likely that you will be required to have a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/cooking facilities for your sole use. This means that you will be in a flat/studio flat on your own during the period of quarantine. 

Additional information for students from amber list countries who need to self-isolate

Depending on where your other flat mates are travelling from, you may have other students in your flat during your self-isolation period. You will be sharing kitchen facilities (and in some flats bathroom facilities) but you should avoid using these facilities at the same time.

If I am in University accommodation and I need to quarantine/self-isolate on arrival, what do I need to do about food?

If you are required to quarantine/self-isolate on arrival, you will receive a kitchen pack, bedding pack, food pack and cleaning pack free of charge. A laundry service will also be available. Support will be provided to facilitate Tesco deliveries to flat at the Colchester Campus and Sainsbury’s deliveries to the flat at the Southend Campus.

A number of restaurants and food outlets also deliver takeaways to the University via apps such as Uber Eats, Just Eats and Deliveroo.

I do not need to quarantine/self-isolate on arrival, but wondered what flexibility there is on moving into my accommodation early?

We know that some students may need flexibility on their arrival date prior to the beginning of term, either because of availability of flights or other transport requirements. We are therefore putting in a staggered arrival period, which means you will be able to move into your accommodation from 27 September.

This accommodation will be provided free of charge from day of arrival until the 3 October (when normal accommodation tenancy starts).

Once I have completed my quarantine/self-isolation period, what activities will be on campus before the start of term?

Our friendly Residence Life team host a range of social activities for students living on and off campus, for you to participate with and meet new friends and make new connections.

The Students’ Union will also be organising a broad range of virtual and in-person activity; further information will be available nearer the beginning of the new academic year.

What happens if I have trouble getting a flight to the UK so have to arrive early?

We know that due to frequency and cost of flights, it might be more difficult to plan your flight arrival with the beginning of the academic year. 
In order to help with this – and accommodate any need for quarantining/self-isolation on arrival – we will be staggering arrival times for students moving into University-owned accommodation. 

These arrival dates vary depending on the country you are coming from:

If you are travelling from a red list countries

If you are staying in Government-approved hotel provision you do not need to arrive between these dates but check your visa to see when the earliest date is that you can arrive.

You should plan to arrive between 3 September and 10 September if you are able to quarantine in University accommodation (as you must complete your quarantine period by 20 September).

If you are travelling from an amber list country but are required to self-isolate

You should plan to arrive from 13 September onwards.

If you are travelling from any other locations that do not need to quarantine or self-isolate (green list countries including the UK)

We are still encouraging you to arrive early and you can come from 27 September. 

The majority of in-person activities, including your departmental induction programme, will start formally on our campuses from 3 October so try to complete your quarantining/self-isolation period by then.

If there is another lockdown and I want to return home, what happens with my accommodation contract?

We know that you might be worried about incurring costs should a national/local lockdown happen in the UK and you want to return to your home address. The University has an Accommodation COVID-19 commitment for the academic year 2021-22 which should be read alongside the standard terms and conditions of tenancy document. This commitment is designed to provide you with clarity and guidance on how pandemic-related events may affect you, your accommodation agreement and your rental liability.

If I want to arrive in the UK early, does this impact my Student visa? 

If you are issued with a Student visa to study at Essex, you can expect to be issued with entry clearance that will start up to one month before the course start date stated on your CAS. The standard processing time for Student visa entry clearance applications is currently 15 working days but it can take much longer during peak application periods. You will need to have your Student entry clearance vignette (sticker) in your passport before you travel to the UK and must enter the UK on or after the date it is valid from. 

What is the last date I can arrive in the UK?

The last date you can arrive in the UK will vary depending on your course of study. Your academic department will be in touch with further information about this by the end of July.

The last date of registration is 3 November; even if you are unable to travel to the UK for the start of your course, it is important that you register by this last registration date in order to access your course remotely (if possible) until you are able to travel to the UK.

If you are issued with a CAS to apply for a Student visa, the Student Immigration Rules require you to be studying in person. Therefore, if your department agree you can start your course remotely, please be aware that the Home Office require us to withdraw our sponsorship and, if you have been issued with a Student visa it would be cancelled by the Home Office. There are Home Office Covid-19 concessions in place that allow sponsored students to study via distance learning for the current 2020/2021 academic year, should those concessions be extended for 2021/2022 this may change.

If you are interested in applying to stay in the UK under the Graduate route when you have completed your course, you will need to meet all the eligibility criteria in force at the time, including the UK residency requirement. If you are studying an eligible Bachelors or Masters degree for one academic year only, you need to make sure you are in the UK by the course start date stated on your CAS. 

Will I be able to get a COVID vaccine? 

COVID vaccines are available in the UK, and provided free via the NHS. The UK Government is currently predicting that all UK adults aged over 18 will be vaccinated by July 2021. We expect that vaccines will be given to international students after they arrive in the UK if they have not already been vaccinated. In order to be eligible for the vaccine, you will need to register with a GP (doctor) on arrival.

We have health services available locally to all campuses (doctors surgery on Colchester Campus) and NHS hospitals close to all of our campuses. You will be able to access these (and wider health care) through the fee paid for health cover.

Will I be able to travel to the UK if I can’t get a COVID vaccine in my home country?

At the moment there is no UK Government requirement that you should have a vaccine to enter the UK, although this might change/and individual airlines might introduce specific requirements. You should check UK Government requirements regularly as these are subject to change.

Do I need to have a vaccine before I arrive at Essex?

We will not require all students and staff to be vaccinated, but would encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to do so. If you have not yet had a vaccine by the time you arrive at Essex, we will provide information and advice to you about how you can access local vaccination facilities.

What if I test positive for COVID when I am on campus? 

We have a comprehensive package of support for students who need to isolate because they test positive.

What should I do if I am not able to travel home over the summer vacation or want to stay in the UK as my home country is currently on the UK Government red list?

Campus accommodation is available for students who need to stay over the summer vacation period. For more information on how to make a booking, please visit our webpages

 

What support is available if I need it? 

All our advice and support services are available and have been delivered remotely, including our Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service; 

  • Access to mental and physical health support continues to be available online and via other remote methods; 
  • We have expanded the Student Information Team capacity, and opening hours, to ensure they can respond to student queries; 
  • We have promoted and developed resources for students and staff including counselling services, self-care guidance and online support modules.

 

How do I get from my accommodation to my teaching?

At both the Colchester and Southend Campuses our University accommodation and teaching rooms are all within easy walking distance of each other, as well as all essential services (shops, health care, sporting facilities etc).

Most students who do not live in University accommodation are able to secure rental properties close to our campus, also allowing them to walk safely between their home and campus.

Deciding to join us

Should I start this year or delay until 2022-23? 

We know that both our new and existing students have experienced unprecedented disruption in the past year –and this will not be what you were planning for the start of your time at university or at Essex. We know that some of you might also be thinking about delaying the start of your studies because of the lack of certainty. It is worth thinking about what you will do instead, your choices may be very limited this year; travel is likely to remain difficult and employment opportunities challenging. So, education and learning are great options and if you do not have a clear plan/alternative option, we encourage you to not lose a year because of uncertainty or concerns around your university experience.

The approach we have developed puts students at the heart of our thinking. Blended learning provides flexibility and helps reduce uncertainty so you can plan with confidence. We want and expect students to return to their campus at the start of the year. If you are unable to due to further restrictions created by COVID-19, our planning means you can register and resume your studies on time wherever you are and can then join us on campus when you are able.

Why should I select Essex? 

The world needs Essex now more than ever. COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact in most areas of our lives and will change the way society operates on a global scale. As part of our commitment to producing graduates equipped with the skills to engage with, and change the world around them, we are revising course content and developing new core modules for some students. But we know you still care about the things that you always have; the environment; climate change; equality and mental health. 

We have learned so much from our experiences over the last year and your education at Essex will reflect this learning. Throughout the pandemic we have worked very closely with our students. Your course will allow you to shape themes, issues and ideas that might be impacted and change in a post COVID-19 world.

What will the wider student experience be like?

We are planning for the full range of on-campus fun to be available as soon as Government restrictions and your safety allow. There might still be differences, but we are certain it will be a positive experience and we are determined to make it loads of fun. Over the last year our community may have become physically distanced but our Essex Spirit has brought us closer than ever. You will still make and see your friends. You will still have access to your lecturers and departmental staff. You will still have a chance to take part and enjoy many of the events and activities that go on beyond our classrooms –you might just access them differently at some times during the year.

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