Coronavirus: information and guidance to protect our University community

We continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely are continuing to take steps in line with Government guidance. The health and wellbeing of our staff, visitors and students remains paramount.

The Government has told us that we must now close our buildings, excluding our halls of residence. However, we want to reassure you the University remains open online, and is committed to protecting our students’ learning experience.

The University is following the latest guidance from the Government and Public Health England (PHE).

If you believe you, or someone you know, should be self-isolating please following the Stay at Home guidance.

We know this is a very unsettling time for many of you as the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve and Government advice changes without warning. Please be assured that we’re doing everything we can to maintain your student experience and enable you to progress in and complete your studies.

The Government has told us that we must now close our buildings, excluding our halls of residence. However, we want to reassure you the University remains open online, and is committed to protecting our students’ learning experience.

We understand this has raised a lot of questions within our University community and have answered as many as we can below.

Please email student.centre@bucks.ac.uk if you have any other queries.

As the Covid-19 issue evolves, we promise to keep you up-to-date about anything which affects your student experience.

Please ensure you follow our official social media channels for immediate updates, as well as the advice below.

YOUR QUESTIONS

Learning

What does ‘moving to teaching online’ mean?

We are working hard to mitigate any risk to the student experience and the details of your online learning will be communicated to you by your course leaders. This will look different for each area. To enable us to move forward successfully please make sure you ensure that your contact details are up-to-date with the correct phone number, email and address.

So what will my online learning timetable look like?

We’re sticking to your existing timetable where possible so that at least some of your routine stays the same. Your course leader will let you know about how we’ll replace practical sessions with other ways to develop your learning and skills.

What happen now my formal exams and on-campus assessments are cancelled?

You’ll be asked to complete a different assessment and submit it online. Please don’t worry about where it’s not practical for us to provide alternative assessments. We’re working up plans to take this into account, and we promise that you and your studies will not be disadvantaged in any way. We’ll share more information when we have it so please keep an eye on your emails.

Should I still submit coursework?

Yes - if you have been set coursework, you should continue to work on this as usual and submit online by the agreed deadline. Any changes to coursework requirements because of the impact of Covid-19 will be communicated via Blackboard. If you have any concerns please contact your course tutor.

How will I complete my dissertation if I’m being taught remotely?

At this time students are advised to continue to work on their dissertations to the timescales set. We recognise that the current situation may have an impact for some students. Your course teams are assessing the impact and will be aware of this when assessing your work.

We are working hard to make sure that if you are unable to complete your dissertations as initially planned we will be able to put in place adjustments to ensure you are still able to complete your programme on time; please do not worry, and your course team will be in touch at the appropriate time and you can contact them if you have any concerns.

If you require specialist space such as workshops, your course leaders will contact you about the alternative ways you’ll be able to complete the work that would have taken place in our campuses. Please be patient as this could take a few days and don’t worry – we’ve got this in hand. We are working hard to make sure that we minimise the impact on your studies.

Will I still progress to my next level of study and, if I’m in final year, graduate?

The University is working hard to ensure that students will be able to progress through their study and on to graduation within the current timescales.

We have developed university regulations to be applied in such circumstances and these are awaiting final approval through Senate. We will ensure that students are not disadvantaged and recognise the importance for final year learners to complete their study and assessment in time.

We will keep you updated every step of the way as soon as we can.

Will the SU be ceasing all activities, such as skills development sessions?

Where possible activities are being taken online, or reduced until after Easter when it will be reviewed. The changes will be communicated to you by the SU, keep an eye on their social media channels. The Advice Centre is still available via Skype and email. If you have more specific questions contact the SU directly.

What advice should I follow if I’m one of Bucks’ partner students?

Please follow the guidance issued where you’re studying.

What advice should I follow if I’m a Bucks’ apprentice?

Please follow the guidance issued by your employer.

If I leave Bucks to return to my home country will my Tier 4 visa allow me to return once face-to-face teaching resumes?

If you have returned to your home country and will continue to engage with your course by way of submitting work online and attending online lectures, the University will continue to sponsor your Tier 4 visa until you are able to return to the UK.

I am a student on a Tier 4 visa, how does all the Covid-19 changes to travel and my learning effect that?

On Tuesday 24 March, UK Visas and Immigration published guidance for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with Covid-19. These changes are now in effect and full details are available at Gov.uk. These arrangements will apply until 31 May, by which date they will be reviewed.

I’m a nursing/ODP student, should I stay on placement? UPDATED 24 MARCH 2020

Keeping you safe is our key priority, and so we're working closely with our Trust partners and adhering to the Government's advice.

Please continue to follow the guidance of the organisation in which you are on placement.

However, if you feel unsafe and/or do not feel you have adequate supervision on your placement, we ask that you please:

  • ensure that you seek support from either your supervisor, the Nurse in Charge and/or the Education Lead of your placement area; or
  • if you wish to leave you placement area, you must talk first to your placement provider and your course leader to let them know. So we can manage our support for students on placement, you must also email Placements@Bucks.ac.uk with the following information: Name; Student ID; Cohort; Placement name; Person informed in Placement; and Person informed in University

We understand that you may be concerned that leaving your placement may impact on your progression and graduation. We promise that you will not be disadvantaged in any way. If you are unsure of anything please talk to your link tutor.

I’ve heard they are registering student nurses early to help with the crisis, what does this mean for me?

The Government will be passing new legislation to enable the NMC to establish a Covid-19 Temporary Emergency Register. Final-year student nurses will be able to choose to opt in should they wish to undertake the final six months of their programme as a clinical placement. We don’t know yet when this legislation will be passed but it’s likely to be soon.

Any decision to opt in will be entirely voluntary. The Chief Nursing Officers are committed to ensuring that no student will be disadvantaged by their decision to opt in or not. The University will also support whatever decision you decide to make. The NMC hasn’t announced anything yet about if first and second year students may be affected by the impact of Covid-19. If they do, we will let you know.

CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS

The Government’s decision to close down schools in England from next week will affect my ability to study. How can the University support me?

As you know, the University is moving to online teaching from 23 March in response to the PM’s announcement (16 March) about steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19. You will be able to catch up on lectures delivered using Collaborate software at a time that’s convenient for you. Please contact your course tutor if you have concerns about keeping up with your work, or if you have other learning related issues email student.centre@bucks.ac.uk.

I’m a student nurse, with no one to look after my child, am I classed as a key worker so my child can still go to school?

Under the Government guidelines on keyworkers all front line workers and support staff in Health and Social Care are considered key workers, which includes student nurses. You are an important part of the team delivering care at this challenging time. Please talk to your child’s school about the situation which should be able to accommodate or advise you further.

Services and facilities

Can I come to the campuses to collect belongings and work?

Unfortunately, since more restrictions by the Government were put into place on Monday (23 March) this will not be possible.

The Government has told us that we must close our buildings, excluding our halls of residence. Your course leaders will contact you about the alternative ways you’ll be able to complete the work that would have taken place in our campuses.

Please be patient as this could take a few days and don’t worry – we’ve got this in hand. We are working hard to make sure that we minimise the impact on your studies.

Will the library and learning and general facilities be open?

Unfortunately, following more restrictions by the Government were put into place on Monday (23 March) we have been told that we must close our buildings, excluding our halls of residence.

Your course leaders will contact you about the alternative ways you’ll be able to complete the work that would have taken place in our campuses. Please be patient as this could take a few days and don’t worry – we’ve got this in hand. We are working hard to make sure that we minimise the impact on your studies.

You can find out how to access library resources online.

Will counselling still be available?

Yes, counselling is still available. Please email counselling@bucks.ac.uk if you have any queries. All students also have access to online support 24/7 from Big White Wall..

Will the campus link bus still run?

Yes, it is still running under the exact same schedule. It’s currently running the term-time schedule and will revert to the vacation schedule from Monday 6 April. If that changes, the Students’ Union will update their website and social media channels as soon as possible.

I don’t have access to any IT equipment – how am I supposed to move to online teaching?

The library will be available at High Wycombe Campus to access IT equipment, which includes a laptop loan service which you can read more about here.

Accommodation

UNIVERSITY HALLS OF RESIDENCE ACCOMMODATION

What is the University doing for students living in halls who have financial worries?

Many of you who are, or have been, living in our Halls of Residence have said you’re worrying about the continuing costs of accommodation during the summer term. It’s important to us that we do all we can to support you, and so we have taken the following unprecedented decisions to help those in University-owned halls make the coming months easier:

  • All students who have left halls and wish to be released from their halls of residence contract can do so from 5 April. You will pay no rent beyond that point.
  • Those students who still living in halls and wish to remain until the end of their contract (12 July) are very welcome to do so. We recognise that many of you have lost work that you relied on for income.  As a consequence, we will give you a 75% discount on your rent for accommodation from 5 April to the end of the contract. We understand that some students might still experience financial hardship and so we can offer some flexibility with rent payment schedules.

How do I tell you if I want to end the contract?

Please email accommodation@bucks.ac.uk before 5 April.  There will be a large number of requests, so it may take us time to process everything and get back to you, but we will do so as soon as we can. Please be aware, if you request a release from the contract, you won’t be able to sleep in the room after 5 April, as there will be no contract in place.

Do I have to return my key?

Yes. We will need all keys back.  We will not insist on keys being returned before we process the early release. However, we ask that you return the key as soon as possible, while still complying with the Government’s social distancing and travelling guidelines.

When we process the release, we will deactivate your fob access. If you return to collect your belongings or return the key, you will only be able to gain access via Security. We expect all keys to be returned by 30 June but will keep this under review as it may change because of new government guidance.

If you decide to post your key back, send them directly to the reception of your halls of residence. Please use a well-sealed, padded envelope, send by recorded/registered delivery and include only your ID and Name (not the room number).

I have left belongings behind; can I come and get them?

The Universities Minister has written to us to advise that ‘students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel’. This guidance is for those living in student halls, or private rented accommodation. For that reason, we ask you not to come back to collect belongings at this time. Please stay at home and follow the government’s guidance around social distancing.

We will not insist on belongings being removed before we process the early release. However, please tell us if you have left belongings in your accommodation.

When the Government guidance allows, we will be in touch with all students about collecting your belongings.  Even when the more severe restrictions are reduced, we expect that social distancing measures will remain in place. So you’ll need to contact us to arrange the collection of your belongings, so that we can safely manage the situation.

We understand that some non-UK students may not be able to return at all, and we are putting the final details to a plan that we’ll share with you as soon as we can

I have left belongings behind, but can’t come and get them, what do I do?

Please bear with us as we haven’t worked out all the details yet.

I’m leaving but I still owe some rent, do I have to pay?

Yes, any rent that has already been incurred will need to be paid. This is only fair to all our students who are up to date with their rent payments.

However, we understand that some students will be experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the Covid-19.  So please don’t worry as we’re able to offer some flexibility with rent payment schedules. Email accommodation@bucks.ac.uk with more information and we’ll be in touch.

You should also contact student.centre@bucks.ac.uk as we are putting plans in place to support students who are struggling financially as this time.

I’ve already paid the rent, what happens? And what about the £300 advanced rent payment?

If your account ends in credit, then we can either roll the money over to next year (if you want to stay in halls) or arrange a refund.  We’ll process refunds as quick as we can. Please be patient with us we’ll be dealing with a high volume of work.

I’m staying, how do I get the discounted rate for rent in the summer term?

Please email accommodation@bucks.ac.uk. We will be busy processing requests so please be patient with us. And we promise to get back to you just as soon as we can.

How do I know how much to pay?

If you’ve told us you’re staying and requested the discount, we will confirm how much you need to pay when we’ve processed the request.

I am still struggling to pay the rent, what do I do?

We understand that some students will be experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the Covid-19.  Please don’t worry as we’re able to offer some flexibility with rent payment schedules. Email accommodation@bucks.ac.uk with more information and we’ll be in touch.

You should also contact student.centre@bucks.ac.uk as we are putting plans in place to support students who are struggling financially as this time.

Will services in halls remain the same?

Please be assured of our commitment to you and to maintaining the safety of the accommodation.

We are endeavouring to continue to provide all the same services. However, there may be some changes or disruption that we can’t prevent or foresee. What we do promise is that we’ll keep you informed and will always give you as much notice as we can.

Will I be able to stay in my own room?

For now, yes.  As circumstances change, we may need to move some of you to reduce the use of some less-populated accommodation blocks.  Our commitment to you is that if this happens, you will not pay a higher rent.

I applied on the ‘Early-Bird’ special offer last year, do I still get the 75% discount?

Yes, we will apply the same percentage discount to your rent from the 5 July to the end of your contract.

When do I have to leave?

Your current contract ends on 12 July 2020.  We will contact all students who are still in residence nearer to the time to see if you have plans in place after this date.  Please don’t worry if you might not have plans in place (e.g. because of travel restrictions) - we will make the necessary arrangements.

I have to stay for now, but may want to leave before the 12 July, is that allowed?

Yes. Under the circumstances, we realise there is a lot that is unknown for all of us and you may need to change you plans, perhaps at short notice.  We just ask that you keep us informed when your plans change. The release from contract will be from the date you leave halls and cannot be applied retrospectively.

I’m staying, can I have guests?

No.  We’re sorry, but this would be against the Government’s guidance on social distancing and would put students and staff at greater risk. That’s way we’ve updated our visitors’ policy so we can protect our University community. We would also discourage any socialising with other students who are staying in the halls. Please read the Government’s Stay At Home advice and follow the guidance to keep you and others safe. We will continue to monitor the government guidance and will let you know if our policy changes.

I have to stay in halls but there have been cases of self-isolating students living near me, what should I do?

You should complete the NHS 111 questionnaire and follow the guidance you are given. Please also read the Government’s Stay at home advice.

I don’t currently live in halls; can I move in?

We are currently not accepting any new bookings because of the Government advice around social distancing. If you have been made homeless, please email accommodation@bucks.ac.uk, so that we can review your circumstances on a case by case basis and offer support.

Can I apply for halls next year?

Yes, but not just yet. We are working on the application process, but it has been delayed due to the current situation.  We will be offering special rates for a limited period for returning students at Windsor House and Brook Street.  In addition, we are removing the requirement to pay a prepayment, which means that you will be able to book without paying money until the new 2020/21 academic year.

More information on this will follow, but our priority is to first help current residents with queries and those who want to be released from their contracts.

PRIVATE ACCOMMODATION:

I’ve gone home, can I get out of my contract?

Maybe, but landlords are not required to let you out of your contract, despite the current situation.

Many landlords rent properties as a business and may not be able to afford to let people out of contracts. However, landlords can choose to be flexible. We suggest that you talk to them, explain your situation and ask them if they will release you.

Look at your contract. Almost all contracts for housing are for a fixed term (most likely for a number of months, or from a start date to an end date), but some contracts have a ‘break clause’.  A break clause allows you to give notice as long as the contract lasts at least six months.  But even if there is a break clause, you still have to give notice, normally two months. If you share a contract with your housemates, you can only give notice if you all agree.  If you do have a break clause, accommodation@bucks.ac.uk can review it for you and offer advice.

If your landlord does agree to release you, we’d recommend trying to get something in writing to protect yourself.

Will I have to pay my rent if I just leave the property?

Yes, probably. Despite the current situation, your contract is still in place and valid.  If the rent is unpaid, regardless of whether you live there, your landlord can still use the court system to pursue for rent that is owed.  That’s why we recommend that you speak to your landlord and see what arrangement you might be able to make.

I can’t afford to pay my rent, what can I do?

We would recommend that you speak to your landlord as soon as you can.  Your landlord might be able to offer you some flexibility with payments or even a short period of free rent, although they are not obliged to do so.

Landlords will know that their tenants may be experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19. The government have arranged for banks to offer mortgage payment holidays to homeowners and landlords, this means that your landlord might be able to get a payment holiday that may allow them to be flexible with you.  But a payment holiday means that they still have to pay the mortgage, just later.

You should also contact student.centre@bucks.ac.uk, as we are putting plans in place to try and support students further.

If I can’t pay my rent, will I lose my accommodation?

No, you shouldn’t. The government are putting a halt to new eviction proceedings for three months, this means that your landlord needs to give you three months’ notice.  The purpose of this is to ensure that people do not lose their home as a result of financial hardship caused by Coronavirus.

However, this is just a delay, meaning that your landlord can ask for eviction once that period ends. That’s why we recommend that you speak to your landlord and see what arrangement you might be able to make.

You can find out more about your rights in the Government advice for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Government announced on Monday 23 March that a ‘huge national effort’ is required to slow the spread of Covid-19 and save lives.

The Government has told us that we must close our buildings, excluding our halls of residence. However, I want to reassure you the University remains open online, and is committed to protecting our students’ learning experience.

We realise you may have some questions about this. Please take the time to read all the new guidance on BEN which applies to both academic and PSE colleagues.

All updates around coronavirus are being communicated to members of our academic or PSE staff via BEN. You should also continue to monitor your emails.

Are you still accepting applications?

Yes, we are still accepting applications as usual. You can find details of our next start dates on each course page.

Are you still processing applications?

Yes, our Admissions team are working hard to process applications as normal. The team are working remotely and to ensure there is as little disruption to your application as possible.

I have an interview or/and assessment planned at the University, what should I do?

We are in the process of confirming alternative arrangements for interviews and assessments and we will contact you directly as soon as we can to confirm the details. Please bear with us while we make these alternative arrangements.

If you have not yet been contacted or have any concerns, please email admissions@bucks.ac.uk or call us on 0330 123 2023.

What if I don’t meet the conditions of my offer?

The Government announced that all exams in May and June are cancelled this week, but the Prime Minister also said they will ensure all pupils get ‘the qualifications they need and deserve for their academic career’.

Our Admissions Policy states that we will consider requests for ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ where events outside of your control have had an impact on the completion or results of your qualifications.

We will continue to monitor the effect of Covid-19 but would like reassure you that we are committed to being as flexible as possible in light of the current situation.

I applied through UCAS how will set deadlines affect me?

We are anticipating much clearer information to be available in the coming days, especially around publication of exam results.

For now, UCAS have confirmed that the Admissions cycle should run broadly similar to previous years. So, you will have until 31 August to meet the academic conditions of your offer.

UCAS are taking a number of proactive measures to support universities and applicants, and are looking to significantly enhance and extend flexibility within the admissions process. Extensions to deadlines will also be considered.

I applied directly to the University, do I need to do anything?

You do not need to take any action at this stage. We will still process your application in accordance with our policy and procedures and will let you know if we require anything further from you.

We will continue to monitor the effect of Covid-19 but would like reassure you that we are committed to being as flexible as possible in light of the current situation.

Will this affect my Visa application?

We will continue to monitor the effect of Covid-19 but would like reassure you that we are committed to being as flexible as possible, including supporting visa applications until the latest viable date for you to join us.