An update from our Academic Registrar, Richard Stock, on what the latest Government guidance to universities means for you and our plans at Essex. This update contains important information and outlines things you need to do so please make sure you read it.  

Term dates will not be affected by the Government’s guidance – and autumn term will end on Friday 18 December 2020 and spring term will start on Monday 18 January 2021. 

Autumn term 2020 

Government guidance now requires that all face-to-face teaching finishes by 9 December 2020. We have planned our programmes this year to ensure that we can adapt and offer flexibility as needed. Dual delivery plans allow us to be flexible and respond to external changes, and ensure you can continue with your studies uninterrupted. 

Following the UK Prime Minister’s announcement of further restrictions earlier in November we moved most teaching online for the rest of the autumn term. Only teaching where a face-to-face component was essential has been delivered in person since 4 November 2020. 

We will not be making any more changes to teaching plans in response to the new Government guidance. Your teaching will continue online as planned and according to your teaching timetable until the end of term. 

Where you still have face-to-face teaching, your Department or School will update you of plans for teaching scheduled between 10 December and the end of term on 18 December 2020. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your teaching, course or modules, let us know as soon as possible. Contact your lecturers, your personal tutor or the professional services team in your Department or School. Our Students’ Union can also help.

There are also Course Representatives at the Colchester, Southend and Loughton campuses, who can support you, provide feedback, and help to resolve any issues.

Winter break travel and vacation 

If you have no further scheduled face-to-face teaching, to ensure you can travel safely and in a way that reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission, please travel between 3 and 9 December 2020, unless you have been told that you need to self-isolate before it would be safe for you to travel. Advice on travelling safely is included in the government guidance.

If you still have face-to-face teaching up to 9 December, please travel after 9 December 2020.  

We are currently finalising plans for services and activities over the Christmas vacation and the University’s Christmas closure period (23 December 2020 to 3 January 2021 inclusive). We want to be here for you, whether you are accessing your learning remotely or staying on or near one of our campuses.  

In order to help us to plan, please complete this brief survey. The survey is anonymous but asks for details of your plans so that we are able to make sure we can support you appropriately. 

Before the Christmas vacation, please update your contact on the My Essex student portal. 

COVID testing and self-isolation 

From 30 November to 18 December 2020, all students can access twice weekly rapid antigen testing at all our campuses. This will allow you to make informed decisions about travel over Christmas and help ensure you do not spread the COVID 19 virus.  

This testing plan is in line with Government’s guidance for universities on how they can safely support students in returning home for Christmas. Further details about testing can be found on our webpage

Any student who has tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with somebody who has, must self-isolate for 10 days before travel in the vacation.

Any student who is aware that they are a close contact of a positive covid case or if you have been made aware that you are a close contact of a positive covid case, you must isolate for a 14-day period. 

If you are a close contact of a positive case and you wish to travel during the vacation period, you will need to have a negative antigen test or a negative PCR test, before you travel. You will still need to self-isolate for a 14-day period at your destination and if you develop symptoms in the 14-day period you will need to arrange for a NHS Covid test. 

If you are sharing a house with others at your destination, they will not need to self-isolate unless you develop symptoms. 

We have developed a full programme of self-isolation support. Students who are required to isolate should let us know by emailing

Spring term 2021 

We are keeping plans for spring term and beyond under review and will communicated plans no later than the week of 14 December 2020.

 Supporting you to succeed 

 While our primary focus remains your health and wellbeing, we will not let the pandemic stop you from succeeding in your studies. Available support includes: 

 Best wishes,

 Richard Stock

Academic Registrar