COVID-19 student testing

To ensure we are COVID secure, any student not wishing to be tested during this period will need to self-isolate for 10 days before accessing any of our campuses. Therefore, you will be asked in the first week you return to campus to take two tests, three days apart. After your first week back it is suggested that you have a test twice weekly.

Any student arriving from overseas required to quarantine will need to complete the 10 days of self-isolation and should not attend the testing clinic before this.

Getting tested

The University strongly encourages you to take a COVID-19 lateral flow test twice weekly while you are studying or living on campus.

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.

Take a test on campus

To take a test (Innova Test) on campus at one of our asymptomatic testing clinics, you are required to complete an online consent form. This form evidences that we have provided you all the information regarding your COVID-19 test and you can declare how you would like your data to be shared and stored.

Complete online consent form

You also need to register for the test through NHS Test and Trace using a barcode provided at the clinic. We can then send you the result via text or email. The result also goes to NHS Test and Trace.

Register a COVID-19 test with NHS Test and Trace

Attending a clinic

The clinic is for walk in and we no longer offer bookable appointments.

Any student arriving from overseas required to quarantine will need to complete the 10 days of self-isolation and should not attend the testing clinic prior to this. This test centre does not provide or administer the tests required for those that have travelled to the UK from another country and the process for this is detailed on our COVID-19 travel information page.

Attending our campus clinic if you have already tested positive

A person who has been tested positive and self-isolated for the recommended period of time, following a confirmed COVID-19 case, is likely to have a positive Lateral Flow Test result, or a positive PCR result for up to 90 days. Anyone who has had COVID-19 infection confirmed by a positive LFD or PCR Test and has completed the required ten-day isolation period, has no temperature can come out of self-isolation and does not need to go for further tests at our COVID-19 Testing Clinic for a 90-day period.

If you are attending campus or health care placements and are asked by your lecturers, placement mentors or Line managers whether you have had your LFT test, you should then explain that you have not had a test due to recently having COVID-19 and you are following the advice not to retest for a 90-day period. They may wish to see evidence of your COVID-19 Positive result date; we suggest you keep evidence of this date and your isolation period available on your phone or printed.

Students and Staff that have had COVID-19 infection can attend the University for face-to-face teaching and work. Please be mindful however that although a person who has had COVID-19 is unlikely to catch it again, it is believed that any persons can still transmit the virus to those that have not had it.

This means that in order to reduce transmission to every person who has or has not had COVID-19, everyone will need to continue to adhere to all the safety measures advised by the Government, workplaces and places of education.

Clinic locations and opening times

The number of available clinics have increased to ensure everyone can get the regular testing they need.

Colchester Campus clinic

The testing clinic is based next to the Art Exchange on Square 5.

From 1 November 2021, the main testing clinic will open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 7.30am to 5.30pm.

Throughout the term testing pods will also move campus providing face coverings, home test kits and flexible testing to students and staff.

Southend Campus clinic

The testing clinic is in our London Road Unit (LRU) under University Square accommodation, opposite Sainsbury's supermarket will be closing Friday 5 November. From Monday 8 November testing pods will move between campus buildings offering students and staff face coverings, home test kits and supported testing.

The clinic will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Loughton Campus clinic

The testing clinic is in a marquee on Hatfields Campus, Rectory Lane.

The clinic will be open on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 4pm.

Self-test collection

You can collect lateral flow test kits for home use from your campus asymptomatic testing clinic. On our Colchester Campus you can also collect a home test kit from our test collection point which is the building next to the Post Office on Square 4. You should also collect your day 2 and day 8 test when travelling from overseas from this location.

It is recommended before using a home test kit to have three tests supervised at an asymptomatic testing clinic to be supported in completing this correctly.

Test collection locations

Campus Location Opening times
Test Collection Point next to Post Office, Square 4 Mon to Fri, 11am to 5pm
London Road Unit, Asymptomatic Testing Clinic Mon, Wed and Fri, 10am to 6pm
Hatfields Campus, Asymptomatic Testing Clinic Mon, Wed and Fri, 8am to 6pm

Your test result

Once you have completed a test, you should:

About the tests and what you need to do

Taking the tests

All students are strongly urged to get tested if it is available at their university to help protect themselves and their friends, families and home communities and keep everyone as safe as possible when returning to campus.

Testing will help to break the chain of transmission amongst students especially when they are infected but are not aware of it and help to ensure the we reduce the spread on campus.

Testing is not compulsory, but strongly advised

You do not have to have the tests but we have been advised by the Government that you will need to self-isolate for 10 days before you can access campus facilities and buildings other than your accommodation. 

Receiving your test results

If you do not receive your result within two hours please return to the clinic and we will give you your result or email

Length of time between tests 

As a minimum it is recommended that you should leave at least a 48 hours between tests.

There is also no need to self-isolate between tests if the first test is negative.

Is one test enough?

Research suggest that the current LFD test has been found to have high specificity but with slightly lower sensitivity i.e. potential to miss some COVID-19 positive cases. Therefore, the two tests conducted close to each other are a measure to pick up any case that was missed in the first round or newly developed cases.

Testing whilst in quarantine

We do not offer Test to Release currently so you will need to complete your quarantine period before booking a COVID-19 test at our clinic and to follow the government guidance here when arriving in the UK.

If you can't get to campus for a test

If you cannot get to our campus to have a lateral flow test then you are able to book a test at a local test site, collect home test kits at a home test kit collection point, or you can order a home test kit online.

Administration of the tests

We have a team of nurses and healthcare assistants on hand who can administer the test for you or talk you through administering the swab yourself.

Positive tests

If you test positive

If you test positive you will have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and the University to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission. Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 10 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus.

Anyone with symptoms should follow the government guidance on how to book a PCR test, or call 119. Lines are open 7am to 11pm.

Follow-up PCR tests 

If you test positive after a lateral flow test you are no longer required to book a confirmatory PCR test and you should self-isolate for 10 days from your first positive test.

Our COVID-19 Test and Trace team may contact you to offer support and signposting to services. If there is subsequent onset of symptoms, you should self-isolate 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Seek medical care as required.

Self-isolation support

A full package of support is available if you have to isolate on campus.

If you're a close contact to someone who tests positive

You need to self-isolate 

If you are a close contact of a case, you need to be in self-isolation. You can leave your location to get a NHS PCR test but you must make sure you keep at a social distance from everyone you meet and only go to the test centre and then back to the place you are self-isolating.

You must book a PCR test

If you test negative but are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you must book a PCR test at a local NHS Test centre and self isolate until you get the results. Find out more about the definition of a close contact.


The University only offers COVID-19 asymptomatic testing at this time.

If you are eligible, you can book an NHS vaccination. Find out more about who can currently access the vaccination and book an appointment at a local centre.

Your data

To find out how we use your personal data when you register for a coronavirus test, read the government coronavirus privacy notice. With your consent your test and the result will also be kept on our Cohort Occupational Health Management Information system but you can opt away from doing this and have this information removed.

As a Government led testing initiative, the results will shared with the NHS Test and Trace system. This is done by having you register for the test when arriving at the clinic and collecting a barcode that you assign to your test and the result. This allows for NHS Test and Trace to text and email the result to you directly without the need to wait at the clinic. 

For English residents, their data will be stored in line with the Records Management Code of Practice for Health and Social Care 2016. This means we will keep your information for up to 8 years before we dispose of it.

Read the government’s testing privacy policy.

About lateral flow antigen tests

The technology:

  • Lateral Flow Device, a rapid antigen test
  • Does not require a lab
  • Can be rolled out rapidly
  • Results available in 20-30 minutes
  • Safe and free
  • Can be self-administered (with guidance)

Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. Processing of these tests can be conducted at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel and can rapidly turn around results within an hour.

Use of lateral flow tests could significantly improve the detection of positive cases, so people can isolate themselves and prevent the spread of the disease. Asymptomatic testing will help to protect those at high risk, find the virus and help enable us to go back to as normal a way of life as possible. 

Lateral flow antigen tests are intended to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependant on the presence of the virus.

Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. The devices are designed to be intuitive and require minimal training to operate.

Swabbing and processing of these tests will be conducted at a dedicated testing site either by trained personnel or as a self-test with supervision from trained personnel.

Lateral flow tests are validated technology, they are safe, inexpensive and the results are trusted.

About PCR tests

The PCR (polymerase chain reaction test) test looks for evidence that the virus is currently in your body, by detecting the presence of its RNA in a swab sample from your nose/throat.

The PCR test detects the genetic material in the virus called RNA. When the sample reaches the lab, a solution known as a ‘reagent’ is added to it. If there is virus present this reagent starts a ‘chain reaction’ and creates billions of copies of the genetic material in the virus so that there is enough that it can be detected and analysed by scientists to provide a positive result.

The test usually takes between 12 and 24 hours to return a result but new technology may be able to provide a result more quickly by using a machine in a hospital or other care setting.

The PCR test can therefore only tell us if the virus is currently present in the body.

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