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What is the latest government advice to students around coronavirus?

Please see below a letter from the Universities Minister (sent 27 March) with further guidance. ​  ​

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As Universities Minister, I wanted to write to students in higher education to explain the latest developments in the battle against COVID-19. ​   ​

I want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to keep you safe and to mitigate the worst effects of the virus on you and your education. The Government is working closely with the HE sector on a wide range of issues, and student wellbeing is at the heart of those discussions. ​   ​   ​

Students in residence halls in England  ​   ​

While many students will already have travelled home, I know that those of you who have not, or cannot, will be concerned about what you should do now.  ​   ​

The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. 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 is a crucial step now to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and save the lives of fellow citizens.  The government published advice on staying at home here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others ​   ​

Should you or any of your friends fall ill while in your student residence, there is guidance on self-isolating here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings ​   ​

I have been discussing with HE providers the additional support that they can give to students. That includes continuing to provide accommodation for those who cannot travel home or have no alternative residence. Providers will also offer a range of other support services to students, including catering and cleaning, and also student health and welfare. We know that providers are bolstering their existing mental health services, and adapting delivery to means other than face-to-face, and these services are likely to be an important source of support for you during this period of isolation. My department is also talking with HE providers to consider how we can offer additional mental health support. ​   ​

Finals ​  

I am very aware that many of you will be worried about what this means for final exams. ​   ​

The Office for Students will produce guidance shortly on how you can complete your studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are maintained. This will cover teaching, continued learning and assessment during this difficult time. ​   ​

It is important that providers support you and enable you to leave with qualifications that have real value and that reflect your hard work and allow you to progress. I can assure you that we are working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure this happens.  ​   ​

Visas 

On Tuesday 24 March, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international higher education students and staff in the UK currently unable to return home due to COVID-19. This covers three main issues: visa extensions, in-country visa switching and distance learning.  ​   ​

Visa extensions  ​   ​

No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to expire, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.   ​

Anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will have their visas extended to 31 May 2020. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation – please see contact details further down.  ​  

In-country visa switching  ​   ​

Individuals (students or staff) who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation and wish to stay in the UK in the long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country. Where individuals would normally be required to return to their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.   ​   ​

Distance learning  ​   ​

Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.   ​   ​

New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.   ​   ​

New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. 

Further information from the Home Office  ​   ​

Full details covering the above visa issues above can be found at the following link: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents    ​    ​

The Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open: 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – calls are free of charge if made from within the UK).  The Home Office asks that customers check gov.uk first as that is the central source of information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.  ​   ​

Call for Volunteers ​   ​

Universities are in the front line in the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 virus. There are many ways that universities will be able to contribute to the fight against the virus, including making their facilities and expertise available. ​   ​ You may already know people with medical or healthcare knowledge who are involved in fighting COVID-19 and there will be opportunities for more people to do so. The Health Minister this week launched a call for volunteers to support vulnerable people to stay safe and well at home. ​   ​

If you would like to get involved, you can sign up as a NHS volunteer here: GoodSAM

Finances ​   ​

I would like to assure you that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that you will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates, whether or not campuses are closed or learning has moved online. We expect that providers will communicate clearly with residential students on rents for this period and administer accommodation provision in a fair manner. ​   ​

I am also aware that some students are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Government is working closely with the HE sector on a wide range of issues, and student wellbeing is at the heart of those discussions. It will be a matter for universities themselves to deal with individual students’ situations. We understand that most universities maintain hardship funds, which can be deployed where necessary. You should also be aware that if you are on a PAYE contract (e.g. part time student work), you may still get 80% of normal income. The guidance is here: ​ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses ​   ​

I hope that you find this helpful and informative. We will continue to work with the sector and with student representatives (Student Unions and the NUS). If you think that there is more that we can do, please contact the department. ​   ​

Michelle Donelan MP ​
Minister of State for Universities

 

What should I do if I fall ill?

As of Tuesday 24 March, everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

If you have either 

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature) 

  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) 

  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

continue to stay at home. To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. 

Further information can be found here.

How will my studies be affected?

We recognize that students will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on their studies, and on forthcoming exams. We have been working intensely on a model for delivering lectures and other face-to-face education activities remotely.  

Scheduled teaching and learning activities have been delivered online from Monday 23 March 2020, and course teams have been in touch with students where there are exceptions to this. Please see here advice and guidance on remote learning.

Assessment processes play a key role in the graduation and progression of our students, which remain priorities. We are working through details of arrangements for assessments and coursework. However, we will not be requiring students to take assessments on site this academic year up until the end of June 2020 in the first instance.

The graduation ceremonies scheduled for July will not be going ahead as planned. The continuing Covid-19 restrictions are not compatible with large-scale gatherings in the Barbican at present, but we are committed to holding rescheduled ceremonies in 2021. Our graduation event is a highlight of our University year, a valued opportunity to acknowledge your achievements and wish you well in your future life, and for you to celebrate the transition from St George’s student to alumnus with classmates and family. 

What is the latest on clinical placements?

Given the continuing effects of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, the suspension of clinical placements continues for the majority of our programmes at this time, though we are reviewing this on a regular basis.

Return to placements will inevitably be different for different programmes and in making these decisions, ensuring the safety of students, alongside that of patients, has been our overriding concern. In addition, some Allied Health students are now on a paid placement, funded by the Government, which has also affected the decision.

We have been mindful, too, of the effects of the outbreak on the healthcare system, the pressure which it is exerting on clinicians and a corresponding lack of capacity to offer teaching. This is alongside practical concerns that placements are currently simply not available in clinical settings.  

Looking ahead, we will aim to provide students with two weeks' notice if the situation changes sufficiently that placements again become possible and in this instance, course teams will inform students of placement arrangements.

We are aware that the position differs for Kingston University students on Midwifery and Nursing courses in our Joint Faculty. Guidance on clinical placements will continue to be given by their programme teams and is being reviewed frequently, following updates from the HCPC and professional colleges and societies.  

We recognise that for students on some courses, the continuing unavailability of clinical placements has implications for the duration of your final year registration, which will need to be extended. Those individual course teams will be in touch with further details, if this is the case.

 

Can I volunteer, or work for the NHS in another capacity?

We are proud that so many of you have asked about helping the NHS as it deals with the greatest public health challenge we have faced in the UK in a century. Thank you for your tremendous commitment to serving our community.​  ​ 

Following detailed discussions with the NHS, relevant national bodies and internally at St George’s, full guidance about volunteering opportunities for students can be found on here: https://canvas.sgul.ac.uk/courses/2479

St George’s University Hospitals Trust is offering to train students who wish to volunteer to work as healthcare assistants . Information on volunteering can also be found here as well as when students log into Canvas here.

No one should volunteer who is considered at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from Covid-19, including those with a relevant underlying condition, who are on certain drugs that affect the immune system or who are pregnant.

​All students are encouraged to ensure any volunteering doesn’t compromise learning or assessments, especially those in their final year of any course. There may be many opportunities local to you e.g. supporting elderly or vulnerable neighbours, that are just as important, and not associated with the risks to you that working in clinical settings would currently pose.

We are committed to your safety and do not recommend that any student attends a clinical setting where appropriate protective equipment is not available. 

With respect to MBBS students specifically, please see the advice below. 

Final Years: A priority for all medical schools and the NHS is graduating our final year students and you should not volunteer until your final year assessments are completed successfully. We are in discussions with some local trusts about possibilities after you graduate. We are also waiting for national guidance to be agreed which is in development with input from the Medical Schools Council, the British Medical Association and others.   

Earlier years: You are still full-time enrolled students of St George's. If you feel you can help in the current situation without compromising your learning, that is of course your decision to make. There may be many opportunities local to you e.g. supporting elderly or vulnerable neighbours, that are just as important, and not associated with the risks to you that working in clinical settings would currently pose. We are committed to your safety and do not recommend that any student attends a clinical setting where appropriate protective equipment is not available. We also need to think beyond the immediate few weeks, and support your progression through the course to ensure the longer term supply of doctors. 

What technologies do I need to engage with online teaching and learning?

To engage with online teaching and learning, you will need a combination of the following: internet connection; web-enabled device (PC/laptop/tablet/phone); audio playback (most devices have this built in); headphones or headset.  

The University moved to online delivery on 23 March 2020. Please see here advice and guidance on remote learning. To ensure that you are prepared for this and that you have the available resource and support, please find here (to link to the attached guide for students) guidance that has been prepared for you. Within Canvas, we have created a dedicated support area for students on where you can learn more and view instructions on how to access these technologies, please visit here for details. 

Students are encouraged to use their laptop, tablet or smartphone to access teaching and learning activities online. A large proportion of students already have access to St George’s Tablets via a loan option. 

If you have not done so already, please download the Canvas app for students for tablet and smartphone from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.  

Do continue to look out for specific messages from your lecturing staff and/or course directors about specific activities that are being delivered remotely. If you have any specific technology-related support requirement, please contact LTS@sgul.ac.uk. Please include a link to the page where you are encountering a difficulty as well as the name and year of your course.

What online learning resources are available to students?

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of requests coming through for us to make new resources available to students. These requests have been coming via three main channels: students, staff, and external companies. Below is a summary of resources available to all students and those that are in development. 

Supported resource(s)

There is a range of resources that are available to all students at St George’s including ‘free’ resources that have been opened up by academic publishers at this time to support student learning, please visit here for full details. 

Some of these resources which you may find useful at this time are highlighted below: 

  • BMJ Learning which features hundreds of accredited, peer-reviewed learning modules in text, video and audio formats (includes resources for nursing and Allied Health). 

  • AccessMedicine which includes access to 130+ e-books organised by basic sciences, clinical medicine, and healthcare systems. The AccessMedicine resource also includes access to cases, videos, and Q&As. 

  • JoVE Science Education, a library of video demonstrations covering a wide range of subjects in science and medicine (includes resources for nursing and Allied Health). 

  • LWW Health Library which includes access to key texts, videos, cases and questions (includes resources for nursing and Allied Health). 

  • For allied health professions (AHP) workshop, please visit here for a one-page resource for the allied health professions (AHP) workforce that curates key published guidance and updates in relation to COVID-19. 

In addition to these learning resources a large number of eBooks are now available, across the range of medicine, nursing and allied health, and they can be found using Hunter (the Library catalogue) at library.sgul.ac.uk

In development

We are working with FutureLearn to allow time-limited free access to our MOOC courses for all UK-based students. In return, our students would gain free access to all other FutureLearn courses from other institutions on the platform. We will provide further details once we are in a position to do so. Nonetheless, St George’s students can view our range of FutureLearn courses here , many of which are currently available for enrolment, or anyway part of your curriculum.  

If you have any questions relating to learning resources, please contact the Library team by emailing Library@sgul.ac.uk.

If your question is about learning technologies, please contact the Learning Technology Services Team by emailing LTS@sgul.ac.uk

I need more support on how to access teaching and learning online, who should I contact?

Access to online content will continue in the usual way via Canvas and Panopto. If you have not done so already, please download the Canvas app for students for tablet and smartphone from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. On a computer use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Edge or Safari and visit Canvas. Log in with your usual student id (email) and password. Within Canvas, we have created a dedicated support area for students on where you can learn more and view instructions on how to access these technologies, please visit here for details. 

Please contact LTS@sgul.ac.uk and someone will contact you as soon as possible.  Please include a link to the page where you are encountering a difficulty as well as the name and year of your course.  

We have also added additional guidance on the existing student support page on Canvas, you can access this here

How is St George’s coordinating its response to Covid-19?

To coordinate the University response to Covid-19 and ensure careful planning and considered decision-making for the future, the St George’s Business Continuity Planning (BCP) framework is operating. This involves a number of response teams meeting regularly to manage the institutional response, enable resumption of operations and minimise risk to St George’s: Gold (strategic), Silver (operational) and specific sub-groups focusing on Education, Recruitment and Admissions, and Technology. Read more about the response structure here.

The BCP response is operating in addition to the University’s existing governance structures. Reports from the BCP teams are received by the University’s Council and Executive Board.

Can I claim a refund for travel booked as part of my studies?

As of 17 March 2020, current FCO travel advice is that people should avoid all non-essential travel outside of the UK for 30 days from 17 March 2020. If your planned trip was within this time frame then we would advise that you cancel it and claim any non-refundable costs under St George’s, University of London’s insurance policy.

If the meeting or conference you were due to attend is outside this period but has been cancelled (including the host institution for your elective cancelling your visit), then you should also be able to claim for any non-refundable costs under St George’s insurance policy.

The claim form can be found here (PDF) St George’s, University of London’s certificate number is UM177/17. You will need to detail the reason for the cancellation in the travel details section on page two (e.g. conference cancellation, travel outside the UK now advised against by FCO).

If you choose to cancel your travel for any other reason, then you are unlikely to be covered by St George’s insurance for any costs incurred.

Claims should be submitted via email to claims@umal.co.uk and any queries can be sent to finance on finance@sgul.ac.uk
I’m an international student, what should I do?
St George’s fully understands that those international students who want to return home, should do so, given the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you do decide to leave the UK, please be assured we will be as flexible as possible in supporting any students in relation to clinical placements, assessments, and progression. For any students impacted by the ongoing travel restrictions, we are confident that there will be solutions when they are able to return to on-site activities.
I’m a Research Degree student with either a transfer or final viva scheduled. Can this go ahead?

Yes – it can.  We have had success with Microsoft Teams and Zoom for both transfer and final vivas, MS Teams being the preferred choice and this is supported by St George's. 

  1. Transfer vivas – you should follow the same procedure as described on Canvas and in handbooks with regard to preparation for the viva, writing your 30 page report and submitting it to the approved examiners.  You or your supervisor should set up the online meeting space and carry out the viva as you would in a physical space.  The examiners will then follow the same procedure as normal in getting their report and recommendation back to you and to the Graduate School.
  1. Final vivas – Ideally,  we would like Independent Chairs to be present in the same room as students but recognize that this may no longer be possible and therefore  this is now a recommendation rather than a regulation.   The meeting should preferably be ‘owned’ by the student and  the examiners and Independent Chair invited to participate at a mutually convenient date and time.  It should be expected that the examiners be allowed time in advance, to discuss the thesis in a preliminary meeting and arrangements for this should also be made by the supervisor.  Decisions on the outcome of the viva will be conveyed to the Graduate School in the usual way.  Alex Grayling or Derilyn Frusher can be contacted if you have any issues or queries at any time during the process.  
Is the Library open?

The Library and computer rooms are closed. However, Library staff are now working remotely and will continue to support the information needs of all our students, staff and NHS staff between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. 

Please check the website at www.library.sgul.ac.uk or email the team via library@sgul.ac.uk for any query you may have relating to the provision of, or access to, information. They will get back to you as soon as possible.

Go to this page for more Covid-19 updates related to the Library.

Is the Student Life Centre open?

Due to the current situation with COVID-19 impacting the UK and the rest of the world, the Student Life Centre will be managing all queries remotely via email and telephone.

Please contact us between our usual hours of 9am-5pm via

 

What’s happening to Students’ Union facilities?

As of Tuesday 17 March the Students’ Union bar is closed. This includes both the bar’s trading activities and the seating area attached to the bar. As of Wednesday 18 March, the Students’ Union office, Games Room, Music Room, Students' Union shop and other Union rooms will be shut until further notice. Further details are available on the Students’ Union website. 

What’s happening to the Robert Lowe sports centre?

The sports centre is currently closed. 

I am currently staying in Halls, what should I do?
As of 27 March, the Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If students are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, they should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force.
I have returned home so no longer need my room in halls. Will I be charged for further accommodation fees?

The following advice was shared with halls residents on 27 March. 

Please notify us via accommodation@sgul.ac.uk if you wish to end your contract and, if so, you will not be invoiced for the final rent payment due at the end of April. If you have left belongings in your room, please let us know in your message and we will discuss arrangements for collection or storage of your belongings separately. If we do not hear from you, we will assume that you wish to retain your room and we will invoice you as normal.
I'm no longer in halls but I've left my belongings, when can I collect them?
It was announced by the Universities Minister on 21 May 2020 that universities may now begin making arrangements for students to collect their belongings from Halls of Residence. We are now beginning the process for students to be able to collect their belongings from Horton Halls.

All collections will be arranged in advance and you will be asked to sign up for a specific time slot. The process we are implementing, which adheres to social distancing guidelines, has been designed to ensure your safety as well as that of your peers, University employees and members of our wider community. To ensure that all the necessary measures are factored into our plan, we will not be able to allow for the immediate collection of belongings.

We hope to be able to contact you during the week commencing 25 May 2020, allowing you to sign up for your collection slot. We will also detail the date range for collection, but we anticipate that this will be from 1 June at the earliest.

Please note, the number of students permitted on site at any given time will be limited, so the collection of belongings will be spread out over at least two weeks.

Students will not be able to access halls until they have signed up to a collection slot or have received prior permission to do so; please do not travel to halls until you receive further instructions from the Accommodation team.
I am a student affiliated with the Joint Faculty. Which guidance should I follow – St George’s, University of London advice or Kingston University’s?

Staff and students should follow the guidance for whichever site they are either based at or attending during the day, eg if you feel unwell on-site or need to notify other staff of contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19 while on the St George’s site, this guidance should be followed.

I am a student, if I do fall ill or need to self-isolate, what should I do about my...
  1. lectures and tutorials?

  2. deadlines?

  3. assessments?

  4. placements?

If you are ill, your well-being is the over-riding priority and you should not be concerned about the impact on any learning or assessments. 

In that event, please email Student Services on coronavirusconcern@sgul.ac.uk. The Registry will contact your course team and you will be contacted regarding how you can best engage with your studies. 

Students wishing submit claims for mitigating circumstances during the current period, including those in relation to Covid 19 should do so in the usual way, details can be found on our Exams webpages.

Due to the current situation we are removing the requirement to provide medical evidence to support claims made for any assessment on or after 17 March until further notice or the end of the academic year, whichever is soonest.

 

What happens if my lecturers or tutors become ill, will teaching still take place?

Course teams are considering contingencies for the delivery of teaching and assessment.  We have been working intensely on a model for delivering lectures and other face-to-face education activities remotely.  

We ask students to check their emails and Canvas for updates from their relevant programme team. 

What should I do if the University needs to close?

In view of recent developments, the University has decided that its education, research and administrative functions will all now operate online and remotely with immediate effect. The University is strongly supportive of all government guidelines and understands the urgent need for increased social isolation.   

This means that the University site will be closed until further notice to all students and all but essential staff.

What is the situation with Student Finance?

The Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that you will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates, whether or not campuses are closed or learning has moved online.

Do I have to pay full tuition fees while teaching and assessment is online?
In these exceptional circumstances, our priority is to ensure that students can graduate and progress in their degrees. Following government advice, staff have been working very hard to provide remote teaching and support for students to enable them to meet the required learning outcomes for their programmes.  Our teaching provision and student support services continue online and students can continue to access learning materials and undertake assessments.  We will also ensure that students can meet the requirements for practical and practice-based components of their degrees. It is therefore not appropriate for there to be a reduction in tuition fees for 2019-20  or 2020-21 for any undergraduate or postgraduate student. This position was reiterated by the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, in her FAQs for university students published on 9 April 2020.  Any student who is having difficulty with payment of their tuition fees is encouraged to contact the Student Services team as soon as possible via email to discuss their individual situation: studentfinance@sgul.ac.uk.  
I am experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the current circumstances. Is the university able to help with financial support?

The university has two hardship funds, which are available to students in priority groups who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 and the current lockdown.   

The Access to Learning Fund is for home (UK) students. Applications are invited from undergraduates who are care leavers, homeless, disabled or young carers; have children (especially lone parents); or meet other criteria relating to their financial circumstances (please check details at the website below for the full list of eligibility criteria). Applications are invited from postgraduates who have children (especially lone parents), are disabled or are self-funding and not eligible for forms of financial support. The Fund will remain open until all funds are exhausted. We expect to invite applications from any home student, regardless of circumstances, down track but priority is given to the groups listed above at this stage.  

The EU and International Hardship Fund is open to fully registered and enrolled full-time undergraduate and postgraduate EU and International students who are experiencing financial hardship due to unexpected circumstances which are beyond their control. 

Students can access full information, including details of how to apply and supporting evidence required, here.  

Students who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the current disruption are encouraged to contact our Student Services team for advice and support via email: studentfinance@sgul.ac.uk 

I’m an international student having difficulty paying my fees due to a disruption in access to make financial transfers. Can I have an extension to my fee deadline?
Our student finance team will consider all requests for a payment extension sympathetically, and on a case-by-case basis. Any student having difficulty paying their tuition fees is encouraged to contact the Student Services team as soon as possible via email to discuss their individual situation: studentfinance@sgul.ac.uk
I am a Postgraduate Research Degree Student, what should I do?

We recognise the unique position of our Research Degree students in relation to this advice and will continue to be in touch with you directly with specific guidance.

Postgraduate research students are now invited back into labs if they feel comfortable to do so. Students should coordinate with their supervisors to ensure the appropriate Health and Safety precautions are in place before returning.

For any specific queries please contact the Graduate School: researchdegrees@sgul.ac.uk

As a Postgraduate Research Student, can I take time out of my studies to help with coronavirus testing or clinical work?

We understand that many of you have the desire to help out in the current crisis and we are keen to encourage this.  If students are undertaking either medical or scientific work to help,  then they should apply for Interruptions of studies to their degree.  This interruption will NOT count to the maximum 2 years that is permitted under our normal regulations.  

Please contact Derilyn Frusher for the current form.

My laboratory studies or recruitment campaign/s have been interrupted, what should I do?

Postgraduate research students are now invited back into labs if they feel comfortable to do so. Students should coordinate with their supervisors to ensure the appropriate Health and Safety precautions are in place before returning.

We appreciate that being outside the laboratory is a serious disruption to your projects and, for those of you who need to recruit patients for your studies, it is likely that these campaigns are now on hold. There are, however, things that can be done to progress your understanding of your field.  Writing literature reviews, which will form the basis of your introduction, materials and methods sections of your work and even planning the results chapters of your thesis all require time, more than usually imagined, and these can all be undertaken, at least in part, whilst the laboratories are shut down or whilst you are unable to recruit patients.  We appreciate that, the longer the lockdown goes on for,  even these areas will eventually be exhausted and we recommend having regular meetings with supervisors by Teams meetings to keep them updated and to inform them of any issues that have arisen.  It is perhaps even more imperative at this time that you schedule more regular meetings with your supervisory team than you normally would.

Could restrictions around travel or large gatherings affect events, teaching, assessments or graduation ceremonies?
As of Tuesday 24 March, everyone must stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions. 

Please refer to the latest Government advice on what you can and can't do. 

This means that the University site will be closed until further notice to all students unless required by their course, and all but essential staff and certain researchers.  

The University is contingency planning for the changes to events and assessments.

Scheduled teaching and learning activities have been delivered online from Monday 23 March 2020, and course teams have been in touch with students where there are exceptions to this. Please see here advice and guidance on remote learning. 

Assessment processes play a key role in the graduation and progression of our students, which remain priorities. We are working through details of arrangements for assessments and coursework. However, we will not be requiring students to take assessments on site this academic year up until the end of June 2020 in the first instance. 

For final year undergraduate students, we are now able to let you know definitively that the graduation ceremonies scheduled for July will not be going ahead as planned. The continuing Covid-19 restrictions are not compatible with large-scale gatherings in the Barbican at present, but we are committed to holding rescheduled ceremonies in 2021. Our graduation event is a highlight of our University year, a valued opportunity to acknowledge your achievements and wish you well in your future life, and for you to celebrate the transition from St George’s student to alumnus with classmates and family. 

I’m a student – what should I do if I am diagnosed with Coronavirus?

You should inform Student Services at coronavirusconcern@sgul.ac.uk. Student Services will notify your programme that you will not be in attendance. 

Due to the current COVID 19 situation, we are removing the requirement to provide medical evidence to support claims made for any assessment on or after 17 March 2020 until further notice or the end of the academic year, whichever is soonest. 

The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If you are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, you should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force.

I’m a student required to self-isolate. What should I do?

You should follow the guidance on the NHS website and from Public Health England.

Students who are required to stay in isolation should contact Student Services at coronavirusconcern@sgul.ac.uk to notify them of your absence as soon as possible. The University may require evidence that you have been instructed to self-isolate.

We recognize that students will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on their studies, and on forthcoming exams. We have been working intensely on a model for delivering lectures and other face-to-face education activities remotely. Scheduled teaching and learning activities are to be delivered online from Monday 23 March 2020 onward. Where there are certain exceptions, your course team will contact you. Please see here advice and guidance on remote learning.

The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If you are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, you should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force.

If you live in Horton Halls
      Please...
      1. stay in your room in halls with the door closed, only using the kitchen when necessary
      2. avoid using the kitchen at the same time as other residents and clean the area thoroughly once you have prepared your meal
      3. take your meals back to your room to eat
      4. use your own cutlery and use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery.
Students staying in halls can also find further guidance here.
If you live in another hall of residence
  • Students should follow the guidance given by their hall of residence (for example, if you are living at Furzedown Student Village, or any other private accommodation provider).
If you live in shared accommodation (ie a house share with other students)
Please...
    1. stay in your room in halls with the door closed, only using the kitchen when necessary
    2. avoid using the kitchen at the same time as other residents and clean the area thoroughly once you have prepared your meal
    3. take your meals back to your room to eat
    4. use your own cutlery and use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery.
Live at home
  1. Students who are required to stay at home should contact coronavirusconcern@sgul.ac.uk as soon as possible.
  2. If you live at home, please follow the guidance on the NHS website and from Public Health England.
Are new ethical approval applications being accepted for student projects? 
At the current time, and as far as we are aware, there is no restriction on ethics applications being submitted for approval but again we recommend that students keep in contact with supervisors in the event of the situation changing.

 

Face masks and coverings

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What are the government guidelines on face coverings?

The use of face coverings on all public transport is now compulsory. 

Anyone entering a hospital site (visitor/patient) is required to wear a face covering (for exceptions see NHS guidance).  

You should also wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. 

You do not need to wear a face covering in a Covid secure area.

What is the difference between a face covering and a face mask?

A face covering can be made at home from fabric or cloth and should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably. Gov.uk has produced guidance on how to make your own face covering at home.  

A face mask is a professionally made, fluid resistant mask used in healthcare settings.  

The BBC has a helpful article here

Do I need to walk through the hospital to get to the University?
No you can use a dedicated University entrance and flow route to avoid the Hospital.  The map can be found here. 
Do I need to wear a face covering if I am just walking through the hospital to get to the University?

Yes, you will be considered a visitor to the hospital site.  

There are some exceptions, which include: 

  • Anyone with breathing or developmental difficulties 

  • Anyone who experiences genuine discomfort or distress while wearing a face covering  

  • Anyone unable to remove their covering/mask without assistance.

Are visitors allowed to wear face masks instead of face coverings?
Yes. However, these should not be supplied by the University/Trust unless it is essential. Face masks must be disposed in the offensive waste bins provided at locations throughout the Trust – do not dispose of them in general waste bins.
Can face coverings be reused?
The majority of face coverings can be washed and re-used. This includes those made out of old clothing.  
What is a Covid secure area?

This is an area in which: 

  • A COVID-19 risk assessment has been carried out and shared with the people who work in the area 

  • There is easy access to handwashing/hand sanitising facilities 

  • The area is cleaned regularly 

  • Social distancing can be maintained at all times with staff 2m apart 

If I am working on the Trust site should I bring my own face mask?
You will not need to bring your own face mask as the Trust will be providing them. Staff/students should read the NHS guidance.  Students should follow their course guidelines on procedures.  However, you will need to wear a face covering to enter the hospital and make your way to your place of work. 
How do I dispose of my face mask?
You should dispose of old masks in the offensive waste bins provided at locations throughout the Trust – do not dispose of them in general waste bins. 

Visas and immigration

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I’m worried about my Tier 4 visa if I self-isolate or return to China or an affected area. Who can I speak to for advice?

If you are a student and concerned about your visa, please contact the International Advising Team for advice. You can contact them on + 44 (0)20 8715 2636/ 1981. 

I am due to start at the University and I am having difficulties obtaining my visa. What should I do?

New students concerned about obtaining or renewing their visas should contact the International Advising Team. Where there are delays in obtaining your visa, the University will assess your situation on a case by case basis, to determine whether you can start your programme a bit later. 

I am a Chinese national in the UK and my visa is due to expire soon – what should I do?

The Home Office has published immigration guidance for Chinese nationals whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire.   

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your leave will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. You don’t need to do anything to get this extension. 

This also applies to Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China. 

The Home Office has a dedicated coronavirus immigration helpline if you have any questions or wish to discuss your circumstances and arrange an extension: 

  • telephone: 0800 678 1767, open 9.00am to 5.00pm, calls are free of charge
I hold a Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 (GAE) visa. Will my visa be affected if I am unable to attend work/study due to illness?

The Home Office recognises that the current situation is exceptional and have confirmed that sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised. This will be kept under review, especially if a student’s length of absences means a potential repeat of a period of study becomes necessary.   

Where can I get further information about my immigration status?

The UK government has released immigration guidance for Chinese nationals, and others, affected by the Coronavirus travel restrictions.  

A Coronavirus Immigration Helpline, and email address, also went live on 18 February 2020, for immigration enquiries related only to Coronavirus: 

  • Telephone: 0800 678 1767, open 9.00am to 5.00pm. Calls are free of charge; 

  • Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

Further advice and updates are also available on these sites: Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What should I do if I have worries related to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)?  

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I’ve experienced bullying or abuse related to Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Who can I talk to?

If students feel they have experienced any form of harassment due to coronavirus, we would encourage them to report it in line with the St George’s Dignity at work and study policy and the institution’s stance on Bullying and Harassment

If you have been subject to any bullying or harassment outside of the University, you may also contact the police to report a hate crime. 

What support is available if I am feeling anxious about family or friends who may be affected by the virus? 

If students would like to talk confidentially to someone, St George’s, University of London has a counselling service that can be contacted by email or 020 8725 3625. 

Students can seek advice from a Personal Tutor, Student Union Vice-President (Education and Welfare) or Student Union Welfare Advisor. 

Students can also access Big White Wall, an online support service through which you can access emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Big White Wall is a safe and anonymous online space where can students can seek support.

Go to bigwhitewall.com and use your university email address to join. The email address is only used to confirm that you have free access and students can then pick an anonymous username which then becomes your identity on Big White Wall.

Will the Counselling Service continue to offer appointments?

The Counselling Service staff will be continuing to offer sessions remotely.  The booking chart will not be available and there will be no Open Sessions for the moment. 

For students who already have a named counsellor

Some counsellors are working remotely from the 16 March and will get in touch if you have a session booked. Please contact your named counsellor if you are unsure or have not heard from them. You will need to download Skype for Business onto your computer/laptop or it is possible to have a phone session. All students and staff are entitled to Skype for Business as part of Office 365.

Please contact the counsellor you have been seeing by their individual email address. The counsellors are:

If you have not been to counselling at the SGUL Counselling Service previously

We still want to hear from you. Please send an email to counselling@sgul.ac.uk and we will be in contact as soon as we can to take a referral from you. Please note we are not a crisis service but will check this email at least once a day. 

This is a difficult time and may be unsettling and distressing. Please continue to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Please see the link to ‘MIND’ below which offers some useful suggestions: Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Communications and updates

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Where can I expect to receive updates on coronavirus from the University?
  • We will be keeping in touch with you as the position evolves with any urgent messages and regular updates.
  • We will be keeping in touch with you as the position evolves with any urgent messages and regular updates through a weekly email briefing to students.

  • For course or cohort specific information, please check regularly on your CANVAS page in the first instance.

  • This FAQs page will continue to be updated regularly.  

 

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