Supporting students’ travel and testing at the end of term

A message from the Provost on the Government’s plans to support students to travel before the end of term, what this means for UCL and how it will affect face-to-face teaching.

Dear colleagues,

This week, the UK Government announced plans to support students to travel before the end of term. I am writing to you now with an update about what this means for UCL and how it will affect face-to-face teaching.

The national restrictions currently in place in England are due to end on Wednesday 2 December. The Government is encouraging students who intend to leave their university accommodation over Christmas to travel between Thursday 3 and Wednesday 9 December. At UCL, we will make changes to our operating model to facilitate this.

From 3 December, we will transfer all remaining face-to-face teaching to online delivery for the rest of this term. Existing online provision will continue as planned. We expect that most teaching will be online from 3 December, although in practice-based and practical subjects, face-to-face teaching may continue as scheduled until 9 December, at the Dean’s discretion. From 9 December until the end of term on 18 December, all teaching must be online, with the exception of teaching on healthcare programmes where students are designated as key workers. Research students will be able to continue on-campus research activities from 3 December if the research cannot reasonably be conducted remotely.

We will seek to return to the current operating model, with as much face-to-face teaching as is feasible, from the first week of Term 2, subject to any additional Government guidance in place when term begins.

Colleagues are working at pace with the Department of Health and Social Care to participate in a national Government scheme to set up asymptomatic testing facilities at universities using the new rapid Lateral Flow Tests. Students who plan to travel will be asked to book a test before they do so, in line with Government advice. This is to provide them with greater certainty and reassurance while they are making plans to visit family and friends, who may be elderly or clinically vulnerable and so more at risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. Students who test negative will be advised to travel as soon as possible; if they test positive they will be asked to self-isolate and take another test before they travel. Once this testing facility is established for students, I will also write to you about the feasibility of introducing testing for staff.

For those students who are remaining at UCL over the Christmas break, libraries and study spaces will remain open, although bars and social spaces will be closed. Our Accommodation and Student Support and Wellbeing teams will be on hand to provide support throughout the closure period, including for self-isolating or symptomatic students.

Tomorrow Professor Anthony Smith and Carol Paige, Democracy, Operations and Community Officer for Students’ Union UCL will be writing to students to let them know what the Government advice means for them and how UCL can support their plans to travel safely. This email will outline UCL’s plans for teaching this term, as well as links to travel advice and information about booking a test so each student can make an informed decision about what is right for them.

I will share more information about our plans for the rest of the term and how we are supporting students in the coming weeks. The pandemic continues to evolve, and with it the advice from Government, which is being updated on a daily basis. I am incredibly proud of your resilience over the past eight months, and the support you have shown for each other. Thanks to your energy and hard work, UCL is well-prepared to adapt to the changing national circumstances and make sure our students can continue their studies with us, wherever they are in the world.

With best wishes,

Professor Michael Arthur
President & Provost

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