Advice for staff and students about the coronavirus outbreak

Updated Thursday 2 April 2020


Everyone must:

  • stay at home regardless of symptoms
  • only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others

The health and wellbeing of our University community is of the highest importance.

The purpose of the following information on coronavirus (COVID-19) is to keep everyone up-to-date on the evolving situation and the University response based on the latest available information and guidance from the UK Government.

We understand that you may have many questions about coronavirus and its impact on you. You should raise questions in the first instance with your personal tutor, research degree supervisor or programme manager (students) or line manager (staff). If you require additional advice or support please direct enquiries to the COVID-19 email address (below).

This information will continue to be updated as the situation evolves. Please direct any staff-related enquiries to covid-19bc@plymouth.ac.uk

If you are a student please contact the University’s Student Hub at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or call 01752 587676.

General

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What is the current risk to the UK from coronavirus?

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officer has raised the risk to the public from Moderate to High as of Thursday 12 March 2020.

The UK Government announced on this date that we are moving out of the contain phase and into delay, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus and what do I do if I have these?

Everyone must:

  • stay at home regardless of symptoms
  • only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Remember that anyone can spread the virus. 

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others


Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

  • If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. Read the NHS advice about staying at home

How is coronavirus spread and what hygiene steps can I take?

Because it's a new illness, it is still not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. The NHS advises it's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food. Following good hygiene is important to avoid spreading or catching the virus:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

What is the treatment for coronavirus?

There is currently no specific treatment for Coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness. You'll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you've recovered.

What is the University doing about coronavirus?

In light of the rapidly changing situation and the revised UK Government guidance, the University has taken the following decisions on the operation of the University:

  • All Face-to-face teaching ceased on Tuesday 17 March – all students who can, must go home and continue studies online. See Students section for detail. Students should maintain contact with a personal tutor and academic team by email and via the DLE.
  • ln line with Government guidance, all staff who can, are working at home from 23 March.
  • Whilst operating within Government guidance we will continue to provide key support for students online. Students should maintain contact with a personal tutor and academic team by email and via the DLE.
  • All University business travel (UK and international) and all University planned events are being cancelled with immediate effect until 31 May.
  • The Library is closed (including 003 Open Access computing room). All Library services, including enquiry and support, have now moved online. For more information, see the library services FAQ page.
  • The Student Hub and Faculty Offices will be open via phone and email as per normal hours. For further details see Faculty Offices webpages and Student Hub webpages or email studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk
  • In the event a member of staff becomes aware of a student experiencing a mental health crisis, there remains a Duty Mental Health Worker on shift Mon-Fri 9-5 (4.30pm on Fridays), reachable in the same way via phone 01752 587676 or if it’s less urgent, email (studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk). Clearly, in an emergency, 999 should be dialled although please let us know you have done this.
  • See UPSU website for any updates on its contingency plans via their website. The Students’ Union Advice Centre will remain operational online.

These are difficult and extraordinary circumstances in which we need to act decisively and responsibly until such a time that we and the country can return to normality.

How do I stay up to date with University information and guidance about coronavirus?

The University is committed to doing all it can to regularly communicate with staff and students on this issue and share any important updates. These FAQs will continue to be updated as the situation evolves.

Students should maintain contact with a personal tutor and academic team by email and via the DLE.

Students who have any specific queries or concerns should contact the Student Hub at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or telephone 01752 587676. Staff should email covid-19bc@plymouth.ac.uk.


Archive of student and staff communications

I have plans to visit another country outside of the UK – what should I do?

Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice is constantly under review, so that it reflects the latest assessment of risks to the UK.

In response to coronavirus measures, it is advising against all but essential travel to some countries, cities and regions. You must check the travel advice to the country you are travelling to.

Sign up for email alerts for your destination.

Please also refer to ‘What are the symptoms of coronavirus and what do I do if I have these?’ as you may need to stay at home (self-isolate) in which case any travel would go against the current guidance.

What impact is the coronavirus situation having on research and innovation?

The UKRI website is regularly updated and includes topics such as information for institutions/grant holders/applicants, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and training grants etc.

Students

Should I stay at University or go home?

While many of you will already have travelled home, we know those who have not are concerned about what they should do now.

The Government’s latest advice is that students remaining at university should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel.

This means if you are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, you should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force. As the Prime Minister said, staying put and remaining indoors are now crucial to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and save the lives of fellow citizens.

We are here to support students who have no alternative accommodation or who cannot go home. For those unable to leave, please continue to stay safe and importantly follow social distancing guidance. This requires everyone to keep at least two metres apart from anyone else to minimise the spread of the virus. 

Do not invite visitors into the halls or other shared accommodation, specifically there should under no circumstances be any social gatherings outside your immediate flat.


Your shared flat (whether in a Hall or in private rented accommodation) is considered a ‘household’ therefore if anyone in your shared flat is self-isolating due to symptoms of cough or fever, all flatmates are now required to isolate in the flat for 14 days. More details can be found in the Government’s stay at home guidance.

Those living off campus should not access campus buildings.


We all appreciate that social distancing is not easy, but no one is immune from the virus and from passing it on, perhaps to someone who may then experience serious effects.

In order for the University to focus its resources on students who require support at this difficult time, please let us know where you are currently living and whether you would like someone to contact you by completing our online form.

Even if you don't require additional support at the moment, please still let us know where you currently are living.

If you need to update your term-time address for the final part of the academic year, please log on to the Student Portal and update your details.

Update your personal details


If you're self-isolating, please let us know

Email studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk. Any information you return will be kept confidential.

If you are a resident in University Halls please use the Accommodation Portal to update the information if you have left. For further detailed advice, please see our accommodation-related FAQs.

Which services are available online?

The Library is closed. The 24-hour Open Access computing room (003) is also closed in response to the Government’s enhanced advice on social distancing. All library services, including enquiry and support, have now moved online – read the library’s advice.

The Student Hub will not be physically staffed from 23 March 2020, however the service is very much open for business if students or staff have queries or require help, via email studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk and phone 01752 587676 (our opening hours remain unchanged).

Seek advice or support with funding, writing support, mental health, disability support, visas and immigration, wellbeing, in fact, anything not related to the curriculum but about student and university life in general.

We are continuing to offer appointments with Counsellors and Mental Health Workers, using Zoom or telephone

Complete our online referral form


The Writing Café is going digital as of 23 March and there are Faculty-specific open hours with Learning Developers each week. Writing tutorials will be digital after Easter and there are lots of resources online about distance learning and how students can make best use of it.

We are still maintaining our online self-help resources (SHINE) and all students should be aware of the Big White Wall which is a free online mental health community.

Pastoral and Spiritual Support is open virtually for students through email spiritualsupport@plymouth.ac.uk and we recommend following the pastoral and spiritual support Facebook page for all latest news and supportive information.

For those students who have no choice but to remain in University-managed halls, or for general accommodation queries, Accommodation Services continue to offer virtual drop-ins, Hall Officer appointments and are providing regular social media updates. A closed Halls Facebook group is now available as a source of information and mutual support.

How will this affect teaching and exams?

The University ceased face-to-face teaching on Tuesday 17 March and has provided online resources to support your teaching and learning. Any specific exceptions to this will have been notified to you by your faculty or school.

For further information relating to teaching, learning and assessment, please refer to our teaching and learning advice for students.

  • Assessments will be adjusted to enable you to study and submit remotely where possible.
  • The details of this for each particular course and subject are being developed. Your School will be in touch with the plans for this over the coming days and you will know more about the arrangements by at the latest 20 March.
  • The University is introducing a ‘safety net’ (also sometimes referred to in terms of ‘no detriment’) that will ensure that no student will be adversely affected by the changes we have had to make in this academic year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. More details will follow on our teaching and learning advice for students page.
  • The Learning Development team have moved their services online and have compiled useful advice and guidance for you if you need support with your learning. Find out how we’re supporting online learning.
  • After Friday 20 March the Student Hub and Faculty Offices will be open via phone and email as per normal hours. 

For further details see: Faculty Office webpages and Student Hub, or email: studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk

There will be further regular and detailed updates on all of this via email and updated on these pages too.

I am a postgraduate research student, how will this affect me?

We have prepared some specific guidance for postgraduate research students at the University of Plymouth – that is, any student registered for a research degree programme (e.g. MPhil, PhD, ResM, MD or Professional Doctorate).

It should be read alongside the general University’s advice and guidance for staff and students.

Any students who have gone home need to stay registered with the University Medical Centre as through the above channels it can still provide lots of services form a distance. This includes sending prescriptions to your local pharmacy.


What is the current advice for outgoing exchange students?

We advise you to make arrangements to come home as soon as possible as any delay will increase the risk of you being unable to return to the UK. Regarding your credits, you should make every effort to complete your host university studies by whatever means, including remotely. If this is not possible, your School will provide further advice on how extenuating circumstances will be dealt with.

Further information will be published regularly so please monitor your University email and these pages closely.

Please be assured that we all, both here and at your host, have your interests uppermost in our minds and feel free to call on any of us for support and advice when you need it. Email studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or call 01752 587676.


My UK visa will expire soon and I am concerned that I cannot get home, what should I do?

New guidance has been published by the UK Government for staff and students who might be affected by this situation. View the Home Office and UKVI advice.

For specific student visa concerns, please contact the University’s International Student Advice team at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or call 01752 587676.

I’m an International Student: how is my Tier 4 visa affected if I wish to return home, and are my classes are now online?

This advice is for Tier 4 students who wish to return home. If you have coronavirus symptoms and are self-isolating, you should not travel home until the isolation period has ended:

The University will now grant you a 60 day absence from your studies, without this affecting your Tier 4 visa. UKVI have stated that universities can authorise longer absences in these exceptional circumstances. This means you can retain your current Tier 4 visa. It is very important that you tell us if you are leaving the UK and/or taking a period of absence. Please email ukvi-reporting@plymouth.ac.uk.

  • Please note, this absence is authorised from a Tier 4 compliance perspective relating to your visa only. You must also check with your Faculty how this will affect your studies academically. It may be that provision has been made for you to continue your studies online through Moodle, if that is the case you should make every effort to continue with your studies at home. Your Faculty will be able to confirm what parts of your course you may be able to continue with online.
  • UK Government advice is changing as this situation evolves. If you do leave the UK we cannot guarantee that you may be able to travel back after 60 days, and if you are able to, a quarantine period of self-isolation may be required when re-entering the UK.
  • If after 60 days you decide not to return, or if you decide to interrupt your studies, please let us know by emailing ukvi-reporting@plymouth.ac.uk. If the official guidance by then suggests that we should extend this absence, or take other actions, we will be in touch with you again.
  • Please note the 60 days permitted absence excludes the Easter vacation period, so for an undergraduate student this will cover most programmes up until the end of the semester – this will not be the case for all programmes so please check with your Faculty.
  • This should enable you to progress to the next stage of your studies, or to attend graduation if you are in your final stage, by retaining your current Tier 4 visa (subject to your successful completion of the current academic year/your degree programme).

For specific student visa concerns, please contact the University’s International Student Advice team at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or call 01752 587676.

Please keep up to date with the current situation by reading the information on this page.

What guidance and software is available to students for learning online from home?

Please follow the link here for more information.

Will I still receive the next instalment of my funding from Student Finance?

We can confirm that SFE have not notified us of any potential delays to funding and payment of your maintenance loan (and maintenance grants if applicable) should not currently be affected.

I am due to receive the second instalment of the Mayflower Award in May. Will this still be paid?

If you are expecting a Mayflower Award this will still currently be paid as long as you do not withdraw or interrupt from your studies.

Will Summer 2020 graduations be affected by coronavirus?

Sadly, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the July graduation ceremonies. We appreciate that this will be disappointing news, but we will still be able to make awards for finalists who are expecting to complete their studies this summer.

We are considering options for rearranging the ceremonies in the autumn and will engage with students on these options to ensure we make the best decisions. We will certainly seek to ensure appropriate and happy celebrations.

International applicants

I am due to attend a University of Plymouth event in my country. Is this still going ahead?

All planned international events are kept up to date on our international pages.

I have applied to study with the University of Plymouth, if there is a delay due to coronavirus, can I join my programme after it has already started?

The University understands that the situation may impact on individuals’ ability to join a programme on the planned start date.

We will, therefore, consider some flexibility in light of the situation. Please contact the Admissions team to discuss at admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or by calling +44 (0) 1752 593512.

WhatsApp chat service number: +44 (0) 7860 593512.

I have not been able to book an International English Language Testing System or Test of English as a Foreign Language English language test. Will you consider other English language tests?

Yes, subject to UKVI regulations. We are developing additional language testing options and will keep applicants updated. You can find out more about which tests the University currently accepts on the relevant pages of the University website.

What should I do if I can’t sit my exam or my exam results are delayed by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We know that some international qualifications may issue results with a small delay and we will be able to accommodate this within our existing admissions process.

We continue to require formal confirmation of your results and associated transcripts if appropriate, to confirm enrolment. However, in light of the evolving situation, we will keep reviewing our admissions process and provide further information on any impact on arrival and start dates as we approach the autumn.

What is the current advice for incoming exchange students?

You should follow any instructions you have received from your home university. If you decide to remain at the University of Plymouth, you will have received an email from the Vice-Chancellor with full guidance on how to continue your studies here.

If you need to stay at home (self-isolate) for a short period don’t worry about how this will affect your studies, your School will provide further advice on how extenuating circumstances will be dealt with.

Further information will be published regularly so, please monitor your University email and these pages closely.

Please be assured that we all, both here and at your home university, have your interests uppermost in our minds and feel free to call on any of us for support and advice when you need it. Email studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or call 01752 587676.

UK applicants

Will the coronavirus outbreak affect my application to the University of Plymouth?

We are doing everything we can to limit any impact the coronavirus may have on current and new applications to study at the University of Plymouth.

Our Admissions team is working hard to process all applications and provide a decision to you as soon as possible, however, there may be a slight delay as the team are now home-working.

Our Admissions team is here to support you through the application process and help answer any specific questions about your application, so please do get in touch with them if you have any questions admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or 01752 585858.

Are the undergraduate open days going ahead?

Unfortunately, we have had to postpone our April undergraduate open day on 25 April 2020 and are in the process of contacting those visitors who had registered for it.

We are in the process of assessing whether our undergraduate open day on 24 June 2020 will go ahead. We will continue to monitor the situation and will contact visitors who have registered for this event when we have a confirmed decision.

We are already in the process of organising virtual events with the aim of providing you with information to make informed decisions about studying with the University of Plymouth. We will be advertising these as the details get finalised.

Registration for our September, October and November events will be opening soon on our open day pages.

Can I book on to a campus tour?

Unfortunately, we have had to suspend our campus tours from Wednesday 18 March until further notice. If you have booked onto a tour, we will be contacting you directly with more information.

You can, however, get a flavour for life at the University of Plymouth and the facilities we have on offer by taking a virtual tour of the city and our campus.

I am interested in studying at the University of Plymouth but my school/college/university/IELTS centre is closed

We are monitoring the situation closely and we are in regular contact with and taking advice from relevant examination bodies on school, college and university closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

We are not yet in a position to say how this will affect the admissions decisions we make; however, we advise you to speak to your school /college/ university as soon as you are able to determine if or when it will be possible for you to complete your exams.

We are aware that some local education institutions have extended their holiday periods and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) centres are currently closed in some countries. We appreciate this will have an impact on some students’ ability to complete their applications, and in particular, preparing their creative portfolios and evidence of their academic and English language qualifications.

Please be assured that all applications received in line with relevant admissions deadlines will be considered equally. We will consider the impact of the escalating situation on our applicants, and make every effort to ensure that all students are treated equally.

In light of coronavirus (COVID-19), can I have a deposit extension?

We appreciate that this is a difficult time and you may not be able to arrange for your deposit to be paid at this time, therefore if you require an extension please email our admissions team on admissions@plymouth.ac.uk with your Student Reference Number and we will look to accommodate your request.

What should I do if I can’t sit my exam or my exam results are delayed by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Further to the statement made by the UK Government on 18 March 2020 regarding the delivery of summer exams, we want to reassure you that we are in regular contact with A level examination bodies and UCAS. We will continue to work in conjunction with them to enable students to progress into higher education. In light of the evolving situation, we expect to be reviewing our approach to admissions entry criteria for 2020 and will provide further information to all applicants soon.

Will my interview still go ahead?

Yes, if the course you have applied for requires an interview, you will be contacted by email to offer you a Skype Interview. You will receive an email with a link to and you can book a slot at a time that suits you. Your Skype interview will be with an admissions tutor and they will talk you through the process. This will replace your face to face interview and the Academic Team will make a decision based on your skype interview.

 If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Admissions team by emailing admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or 01752 585858.


Can I defer my offer to 2021 or 2022 as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We understand that there are a variety of reasons why an applicant may require to defer their start date, and we will always try and accommodate these. 

We would always ask that you speak to our Admissions team before you make any decision to defer - admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or 01752 585858.

If after speaking to the Admissions team, you do decide to defer your start date and have already paid a tuition fee deposit, this will be rolled forward with your application if a deferral request is granted; this will be automatically completed for you.

Is the University of Plymouth still considering applications from students in countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak?

Yes, we will continue to give equal consideration to all applications regardless of where you are from or where you live. If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Admissions team by emailing admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or 01752 585858.

Alternatively, we will update our FAQs as new information becomes available and we advise you to check back regularly for the latest information.

What are the UCAS decision dates for both undergraduate and Teaching Training?

UCAS is currently reviewing its scheduled decision dates in response to the current situation. As soon as it is in a position to update institutions further, we will be communicated through UCAS Track.

We will update our FAQs as new information becomes available and we advise you to check back regularly for the latest information or contact our Admissions team by emailing admissions@plymouth.ac.uk or 01752 585858.

Staff

I have a question about absence or working from home due to coronavirus – what should I do (HR related enquiries)?

There is further detailed FAQ guidance for staff on the Human Resources intranet pages that will continue to be updated. These also contain links to a wealth of other resources and helpful policy/procedures to offer further specific advice and support for example a  Practical guide for Home Working for staff and managers and Practical guide for Lone Working for essential staff and managers who may be required to work on campus

If there’s anything not listed here that you would appreciate guidance on, please let us know at covid-19bc@plymouth.ac.uk.

What access will there be to University buildings?

From 5pm on 20 March, access to buildings and delivery of services will be restricted and highly limited. We will:

  • Deliver essential campus services (such as building security and maintenance).
  • TIS will maintain a small number of staff on campus to ensure the IT systems.
  • The Library is closed. All Library services are moving online. Room 003 (open access) is also closed.
  • Drakes Café will remain open for a limited service.

The majority of buildings will be both alarmed and deadlocked. If access to any buildings over the closure period is required, this needs to be agreed in advance.

Specifically:

  • While the majority of research can be undertaken remotely, there may be an unavoidable and time-limited need for staff to be able to access laboratories and/or equipment to complete essential current or planned work.
  • Over time, there may be an unavoidable requirement to access materials on campus in order to continue to deliver teaching and other services online/remotely.

In such exceptional circumstances, should there be an absolute need to access specific office or laboratory spaces please contact asktheestatesdirector@plymouth.ac.uk. Please do this in the first instance by Friday 20 March so that Estates & Facilities can plan appropriate staffing where possible.

You will need to get your Head of School or Director to confirm your requirements ahead of this. Estates & Facilities will be challenging any request to validate its urgency/criticality. Please note that access in all cases will be limited to weekdays and normal operating hours.

Obviously nobody knows how long the current restrictions will remain in place and situations will change. Requests for access will emerge over time. The same principles will apply but please provide Estates with 48 hours’ advance request to enable them to confirm that such can be supported.

Estates & Facilities will do their utmost within reason to support but they will only be operating with a small number of staff. Health, Safety and wellbeing are even more important now and if you have any concerns please talk to your manager.

Staff should be aware that further changes to Government guidance may have an additional impact on campus operations over the coming days.

Please also note we will enable parking in University car parks for essential University workers from Monday 23 March noting public highway parking within the campus is operated by the local Council and not under our control.

Anybody parking should photocopy their staff card and put this on their dashboard along with a note of which building they are accessing, for how long and their on-site contact details.

Please note that this availability will be kept under review and if numbers exceed spaces, parking is dangerous or government policy changes then this may change.

What IT help and support is available for online teaching and homeworking?

The University’s Technology and Information Services team has a general FAQ which links to a range of support resources, information and guidance.