COVID-19 University Guidance

Starting at Essex following the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak

Find a course
student studying outside smiling

Starting at Essex in 2021-22

We recognise that during this time you may have a number of questions about starting your course at the University of Essex in 2021. We hope that the following sections may help to answer some of these queries for you. We will update this regularly.

Deciding to join us

Should I start this year or delay until next academic year?

We know that both our new and existing students have experienced unprecedented disruption due to the pandemic – and this will not be what you were planning for the start of your time at university or at Essex. We know that some of you might also be thinking about delaying the start of your studies because of continued lack of certainty. It is worth thinking about what you will do instead, your choices may be very limited this year; travel is likely to remain difficult and employment opportunities challenging. So, education and learning are great options and if you do not have a clear plan/alternative option, we encourage you to not lose a year because of uncertainty or concerns around your university experience.

What if there are further periods of lockdown?

As we have demonstrated through the pandemic, our approach to teaching has allowed us to make sure that your teaching and learning continues uninterrupted. Our approach ensures that if things need to change, we can move to online only teaching at any point.

We expect that most teaching will be delivered on campus but with appropriate COVID-19 secure measures – such as supporting vaccinations across our student and staff community; regular COVID testing; managing a track and trace system; supporting students to quarantine and self-isolate; etc

What support is available if I need it?

All our advice and support services are available and have been delivered remotely, including our Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service; 

  • Access to mental and physical health support continues to be available online and via other remote methods; 
  • We have expanded the Student Information Team capacity, and opening hours, to ensure they can respond to student queries; 
  • We have promoted and developed resources for students and staff including counselling services, self-care guidance and online support modules. 

About your teaching

How will my course be taught?

We continue to balance our desire to offer the best possible campus experience for you with the need to maintain the safety of our community. There may be restrictions and mitigations in place for activities taking place on our campuses. These will be based on the latest UK Government guidance and the measures we want to take to maintain your safety.

To find out more about how teaching will be delivered this year please visit our Student Directory. Your Department will be in contact with you to provide more information about your planned teaching programme.

Will I be expected to come onto a campus for my teaching? 

The University of Essex is a campus-based university. We offer our students a distinctive, on-campus, living and learning experience, and our students benefit from being on our campuses, sharing their Essex learning experience with fellow students and being part of our rich and diverse community.

While we expect all our students to be on campus, we know that COVID-19 restrictions may still affect many of you. That’s why we offer a level of flexibility for those who are unable to arrive at our campuses for the start of term. Further information relating to this flexibility will be provided nearer your start date.

Testing and vaccination

What tests do I need to enter the UK?

Test requirements vary depending on the country/ies you have been in the 10 days before your arrival and on your vaccination status. As this information changes frequently, it is best to keep checking the Government webpages for up-to-date information for the country you are travelling from.

Do I need to have a vaccine before I travel to the UK and arrive at Essex?

At the moment there is no UK Government requirement that you should have a vaccine to enter the UK, although this might change/and individual airlines might introduce specific requirements. You should check UK Government requirements regularly as these are subject to change.

We will not require all students and staff to be vaccinated, but would encourage everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to do so. If you have not yet had a vaccine by the time you arrive at Essex, we will be running NHS vaccination clinics on Colchester, Southend and Loughton campuses in the Autumn term during Freshers’ Week and Welcome Week for you to have your first or second vaccination. Information will be provided to students as part of their registration process.

Will I be able to get a COVID vaccine?

The Coronavirus vaccination is now available and is provided free via the NHS for anyone over the age of 18 in the UK including international students.

As a student at Essex, we want to support you to get vaccinated in order to protect yourself, fellow students and the campus community you live and study within. We will be running NHS vaccination clinics on Colchester, Southend and Loughton campuses in the Autumn term during Freshers’ Week and Welcome Week for you to have your first or second vaccination. Information will be provided to students as part of their registration process. We have health services available locally to all campuses (doctors surgery on Colchester Campus) and NHS hospitals close to all of our campuses. You will be able to access these (and wider health care) through the fee paid for health cover.

Will there be regular testing on the University campuses?

The University strongly encourages that you undertake a COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test twice weekly whilst working or studying on campus.

At all our campuses you have the option to take a test at one of our campus testing clinics or you can collect lateral flow test kits for home use from the campus clinics.

What if I test positive for COVID when I am on campus?

We have a comprehensive package of support for students who need to isolate because they test positive.


What do I need to do before I travel to the UK?

The Government has introduced a number of quarantine and self-isolation instructions for anyone arriving in the UK including what tests are required prior to arrival and once you are in the UK. These travel requirements vary depending on the country/ies you have been in the 10 days before your arrival. As this information changes frequently, it is best to keep the Government webpages for up-to-date information for the country you are travelling from.

Students from red list countries

Current UK requirements are that students arriving from red list countries must quarantine for ten days in Government-approved hotel provision in a managed quarantine hotel using the Government's Managed Quarantine Service (.pdf).

For January 2022 courses:

We will reimburse the cost of the Government-approved hotel provision once you have commenced your main programme of study. Students will need to complete our Quarantine Expenses Form in order to make a claim. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions in relation to who is eligible to claim (.pdf).

After your quarantine period in a Government-approved hotel, you will be able to travel to your term-time address.

If I want to arrive in the UK early, does this impact my Student visa?

If you are issued with a Student visa to study at Essex, you can expect to be issued with entry clearance that will start up to one month before the course start date stated on your CAS. The standard processing time for Student visa entry clearance applications is currently 15 working days but it can take much longer during peak application periods. You will need to have your Student entry clearance vignette (sticker) in your passport before you travel to the UK and must enter the UK on or after the date it is valid from. 

How do I know it will be safe to travel to the UK/to any of the campuses? What are the COVID-19 secure measures adopted for the campuses?

Our campuses have remained open throughout the past year; they have continued to provide a home from home to thousands of students, who we have looked after during the pandemic.

In order to keep students and staff on our campuses as safe as possible, we still have a number of measures in place to reduce the risk of waves/variants of COVID-19. These measures include:

  • Wearing a face covering if you are able to do so when attending teaching events, moving around our buildings and in congested areas of campus. It is a legal requirement to wear face coverings inside shops;
  • Continuing to practice social distancing where possible;
  • Asking students and staff to follow safety signage and guidance to help manage the flow of people around our campuses and reduce risks of overcrowding;
  • Ensuring all indoor spaces are ventilated appropriately for the number of people in each space;
  • Asking students and staff to take a COVID-19 test twice a week;
  • Encouraging students and staff to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as they can and if they are eligible to do so.

What is the last date I can arrive in the UK?

For January 2022 courses:

The last date you can arrive in the UK will vary depending on your course of study, as for some of our courses it may be possible to start your studies remotely and then travel to the UK when it is possible for you to do so. 

The last date of registration is 13 February 2022. Even if you are unable to travel to the UK for the start of your course, it is important that you register by this last registration date in order to access your course remotely (if possible) until you are able to travel to the UK.

If you are issued with a CAS to apply for a Student Visa, the Student Immigration Rules require you to be studying in person by 6 April 2022 at the latest. If you are not on campus by this date the Home Office require us to withdraw our sponsorship and, if you have been issued with a Student visa, it would be cancelled by the Home Office.

If you are interested in applying to stay in the UK under the Graduate route when you have completed your course, you will need to meet all the eligibility criteria in force at the time, including the UK residency requirement. If you are studying an eligible Bachelors or Master’s degree for one academic year only, you need to make sure you are in the UK by the course start date stated on your CAS.

Quarantine and accommodation

If my course starts in January 2022, when does my accommodation tenancy start?

The UK Government regularly updates travel guidance and the latest information is available on the UK Government website.

The University of Essex will follow all Government guidance in planning arrival and quarantine arrangements for new and returning students so please check the Government website regularly and follow and applicable guidance.

I need to quarantine/self-isolate on arrival in the UK. What arrangements are the University putting in place?

The guidance below is based on UK government guidance and therefore is subject to change as and when changes and updates are made.

Current UK requirements are that some students arriving in the UK must self-isolate and take a COVID-19 PCR test, but they do not need to be in dedicated quarantine hotels. More information about whether you might need to self-isolate on arrival can be found on the UK Government website.

If you have an Accommodation Essex accommodation allocation for the academic year 2021-2022, the University will be offering on-campus accommodation for your period of self-isolation. This accommodation will be provided to you free of charge from the date you arrive, to when your normal accommodation tenancy starts.

When you receive your accommodation allocation and have accepted this offer, you will be invited to make a booking for the free accommodation in order to self-isolate.

Due to capacity in our accommodation, it is likely you will spend your period of self-isolate in one location and will then move into your term-time accommodation straight afterwards.

You may have other students in the flat during your self-isolation period. You will be sharing kitchen facilities (and in some flats bathroom facilities) but you should avoid using these facilities at the same time.

If you are planning to live in private sector accommodation, you will need to self-isolate in your private sector accommodation on arrival.

What services and support are available to me during my quarantine period if I am in University accommodation?

You will receive a kitchen pack, bedding pack, food pack and cleaning pack free of charge. A laundry service will also be available.

Support will be provided to facilitate Tesco deliveries to flats at the Colchester Campus (details to be confirmed) and Sainsbury’s deliveries to the flat at the Southend Campus. A number of restaurants and food outlets also deliver takeaways to the University via apps such as Uber Eats, Just Eats and Deliveroo.

Any post/parcels you have delivered to the University, will be delivered to your flat door.

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service is here to support your health and wellbeing throughout your time at Essex. One of the friendly Wellbeing Assessors will contact you via your university email address during your period of quarantine to make sure you have the support you need. The Wellbeing Assessors can also provide advice and support on areas such as personal, welfare, emotional/mental health concerns on weekdays across all campuses. If you want to book a virtual meeting or call with one of the Wellbeing Assessors you can do this via the appointment request form

Our friendly Residence Life team host a range of social activities for students living on and off campus, for you to participate with and meet new friends and make new connections.
The Students’ Union will also be organising a broad range of virtual and in-person activity; further information will be available nearer the beginning of the new academic year.
We will also be offering a range of online activities to help you prepare for your time at Essex.

Undergraduate Admissions
Telephone: 01206 873666
Postgraduate Admissions
Telephone: 01206 872719