Coronavirus (COVID-19): student FAQs

Information and guidance for University of Plymouth students following the outbreak of COVID-19


We understand that you may have many questions about COVID-19 and its impact on you. The following information will hopefully keep you up to date on the evolving situation and the University response based on the latest available information and guidance from the UK Government.

You should raise any concerns with your personal tutor, research degree supervisor or programme manager.

If you still have questions, please contact the Student Hub.

studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk

+44(0)1752 587676

What is the plan for the 2020-21 academic year?

The University is planning to start the 2020/2021 academic year for all students in September, providing high-quality, accessible and engaging teaching and learning, a positive student experience and wide-ranging support.

The first important element of our plan relates to your safety and that of our whole University community. We will follow government advice on social distancing and personal safety to ensure a ‘Covid secure’ working and learning environment. The University campus will be operational, and you will be able to study and engage in person and regularly with other students and staff.

You will be able to participate in lectures, face-face tutorials, and seminars. You will be able to access laboratory and studio experiences, fieldwork, placements, the library, and all student support and welfare services. If needed, either to enable social distancing or to support your individual circumstances, options for remote access or online and blended learning will be available alongside the face-to-face experience.

We know that we all may need to adapt if Covid conditions change. But our priority is to ensure a great teaching, learning and social experience for all our students. We all look forward to welcoming you back to campus to continue your studies.

More information for new and returning students September 2020

Which services are available online?

Student Hub services are very much open for business if students or staff have queries or require help, via email at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk and by telephone +44 (0)1752 587676 (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 currently  digital and there are faculty-specific open hours with Learning Developers each week. Writing tutorials are also being offered digitally 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 at spiritualsupport@plymouth.ac.uk and we recommend following the Pastoral and Spiritual Support Facebook page for all the 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 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 is providing 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 have been developed and your school should have been in touch already.
  • 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. More details can be found 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 if you need support with your learning. Find out how we’re supporting online learning.
  • The Student Hub and Faculty Offices are open via telephone and email as per normal hours.

For further details visit the 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 – 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 included in these main FAQs.

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.

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 telephone +44 (0)1752 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.

We 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 and 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 courses up until the end of the semester. However, this will not be the case for all courses, 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 year, by retaining your current Tier 4 visa (subject to your successful completion of the current academic year/your degree course).

For specific student visa concerns, please contact our International Student Advice team at studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1752 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.

I am struggling financially as a result of COVID-19 – what can I do?

Many of you may find yourself in unexpected financial hardship during this difficult time. Please ensure you first check the government guidance on support you may be entitled to.

Despite the crisis, many companies, from supermarket chains and delivery companies to food producers, are recruiting casual and part-time workers to cover staff shortages. The Careers Service is advertising these current vacancies and also offering online support via Skype, telephone or Zoom – log onto MyCareer or email careers@plymouth.ac.uk. If you are considering work during this period please consider your own health along with the health of others you live with before accepting a role.

We have introduced a short-term hardship grant which has been created in response to direct financial hardship as a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All enrolled students at the University are eligible to apply. The purpose of the grant is to assist you for the short term only, where you are suffering financial hardship as a direct result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Non-exclusive examples of where we may award money are to assist with housing and food costs, travel expenses, technology costs associated with online learning and other financial challenges. Awards will only be awarded once and made on a case-by-case basis on severity of need. The decision made by the University is final. The fund is limited and is not intended to be funding to replace the Financial Support Fund which is for longer term financial hardship. It is not possible to offer support to students for tuition fees through this fund. If you have any questions, please contact studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk. The application form and further information can be accessed here. Thank you to Santander Bank for contributing to this fund.


I’ve lost my job (sandwich year placement or part-time work) – what should I do and what help might be available?

Suddenly losing income can be worrying both financially and emotionally. Please see the above FAQ (I am struggling financially as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) – what can I do?) for information on the support available to you via Student Services.


Sandwich year placement

If your placement has finished early please remember to notify the Placements team via placements@plymouth.ac.uk and copy in your placement tutor. The team needs to know and can offer you support. Financial support might also be available via the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed workers. If you were recently let go by your employer then help may still be available, providing your employer is able to cooperate. If you would prefer to talk through the situation you find yourself in, we can arrange this via Skype, telephone or Zoom, via the placements email (above).


Part-time jobs

Some alternative part-time work is still being advertised. Many companies, from supermarket chains and delivery companies to food producers, are recruiting casual and part-time workers to cover staff shortages. The Careers Service is advertising these current vacancies and also offering online support via Skype, telephone or Zoom – log onto  MyCareer or email careers@plymouth.ac.uk. If you are considering work during this period please consider your own health along with the health of others you live with before accepting a role.

Will Summer 2020 graduations be affected by coronavirus?

Unfortunately, following indications this week that some social distancing measures are likely to remain in place for the remainder of the year, we have taken the decision to postpone the July, September, October and December graduations. We hope to reschedule ceremonies for all students that were due to graduate this year, in early 2021. Once dates have been confirmed, students will be notified.