COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Page last updated: Monday 30 March 2020, 5.15pm  

Key updates

This web page is updated daily. Key updates are listed below, however it is advisable to check the page frequently to be sure you are up to date with the latest guidance and information from the University.

Protecting and supporting our students

We are monitoring advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

We are reviewing information and advice daily and a COVID-19 working group is meeting on a daily basis.

The University’s business continuity plan for COVID-19 has identified two escalating levels of response from the University.  Each of these recognises that the University’s campuses will need to remain open at all times to support students residing in University accommodation. Read the full plan (.pdf)

Find out how we're delivering your course and learning and the latest on campus services and facilities.

Supporting your mental health and wellbeing

We’re here for you if you are facing challenges during this extended period of having to stay at home. You might also find new Public Health England guidance helpful. The online guidance sets out principles to follow to help people to manage their mental health during this difficult time. This includes encouraging you to:

  • maintain contact with friends and family via telephone and video calls, or social media
  • keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern

The guidance was developed in partnership with leading mental health charities and is clinically assured by the NHS. It also includes steps that those living with serious mental health problems can take, including seeking support from their mental health teams.



Limiting the transmission of COVID-19

The government has announced new rules to limit the transmission of COVID-19

Stay at home:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Everyone must comply with these rules.The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

Please read the full government guidance.

We know it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what to do at the moment. To help you Public Health England has published new guidance on what you can and can’t do – covering the most frequently asked questions.

How can I help limit the spread of COVID-19?

We can all take steps to help limit the transmission of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after sharing equipment or touching surfaces in public areas. If you are unable to wash hands then use a hand sanitiser gel.
  • To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or use your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue. Throw away any used tissues immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly used touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
  • The latest government measured do allow you to go out if you need essentials, or once a day for exercise, but you must stay two metres away from other people. Public gatherings of more than two people are not permitted.

If you fall ill, you will need to stay at home. Make sure you have everything you will need. Plan ahead and ask others for help. Delivery services are available to arrange things like food shopping and medicines – but avoid contact with them. All deliveries should be left outside, so you can collect them without coming into contact with the person dropping them off.

What happens if I fall ill?

  1. If you have the symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature or a new, continuous cough - do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You also do not need to contact 111
  2. If you have these symptoms, you must stay at home for 7 days. 
  3. If you live with other people, they need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in your house had symptoms. For further information visit the NHS website.
  4. If your symptoms worsen or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999. If you live on campus and are self-isolating please let us know by emailing The University has processes in place to support you.

What happens if I fall ill and am sharing a house?

  • Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible.
  • Sleep alone, if that is possible.
  • If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. Wash plates, cutlery and kitchen utensils using washing up liquid and warm water. Dry them thoroughly and avoid sharing a tea towel with other people in your house. 
  • If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Use separate towels. If you do share a toilet and bathroom, clean them after every use (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with).

What happens if another member of my household becomes ill?

Should another member of your household develop coronavirus symptoms late in the 14-day household-isolation period (eg on day 13 or day 14) the isolation period does not need to be extended, for all household members/flatmates, but the person with the new symptoms has to stay at home for 7 days from the first day they develop symptoms.

The 14-day household-isolation period will have greatly reduced the overall amount of infection the rest of the household could pass on, and it is not necessary to re-start 14 days of isolation for the whole household. This will have provided a high level of community protection. Further isolation of members of this household will provide very little additional community protection.

Can I come out of isolation if I still have a cough after my 7 day isolation?

A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days from the beginning of their symptoms.

What do I do if I am classed as a vulnerable person?

If you are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, you are strongly advised to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family and wider social contact if possible. We will support you to work from home where possible.

Social distancing measures will reduce the risk of infection from the spread of coronavirus. People who remain well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition, are advised to limit their social contact where possible.

How do I know if my underlying condition qualifies me as a vulnerable person?

Some members of our community will be particularly vulnerable if they fall ill with COVID-19.

You can find out if you qualify as a vulnerable person on the Government website

Helping others safely

We know many members of our community will want to help others facing challenges due to COVID-19. The UK Government has published guidance on helping others safely.

Your course and learning

All teaching, supervision and academic support is now being delivered online. Details of alternative delivery arrangements are being communicated to students by Heads of Department.

For all students, including those from overseas, your attendance record will not be affected by the move to online delivery of teaching. You will not be able to tap in to record your attendance when you access your teaching remotely. Please be assured you do not need to tap in and your attendance record will not be adversely affected. If your classes are cancelled, your department will be in touch to inform you and will give further appropriate details on attendance monitoring.

Unfortunately we do not know how long it will be necessary to avoid face-to-face teaching so please watch out for updates from your department about next term. We’ve advised students to take IT equipment, and all learning materials with them if they are leaving campus, so they can continue to access our online learning provision.

Wherever possible, there will be no physical examinations on any campus during the summer term. Details of revised assessment arrangements will be published through the examinations timetable. 

To make sure you receive all updates please keep your personal contact details up to date
in My Essex.

If you have any questions contact


Better broadband at our accommodation

Our broadband provider, Glide, has increased the connection speed to 100Mbps for all students in accommodation at our Colchester and Southend campuses from now until the end of their tenancy. Glide want to support students accessing online learning resources from their campus accommodation and there is no extra charge for the upgraded package.


Exams and alternative assessment methods


This year’s summer assessment will go ahead as planned. However, wherever possible, we will not run examinations that require you to be physically present on campus. Instead alternative assessment approaches will be used.

Your methods of assessment will be published through your examination timetable. This will be published at 4pm on Monday, 6 April. It is taking a few extra days to ensure that the timetable provides the information that you need clearly and accurately. It will provide information on the format of the alternative assessment. Departments and Schools will provide you with further details about arrangements for alternative assessment in each module

Alternative assessments

Alternative assessment methods will vary depending upon your module and course, however we will ensure that any alternative assessment continues to meet our rigorous academic standards, as well as providing you with the appropriate equivalent opportunity to demonstrate your learning

For some modules, where work already completed has demonstrated that the learning outcomes of the module have been met (for example, through coursework), it may be decided that no further assessment for that module is required.

External accreditation

For modules that have external accreditation requirements, we are working with the relevant accreditation bodies to ensure that their requirements are managed throughout this process.

On-campus assessment

Where modules require students to come on to campus to complete their assessment we will ensure any assessment undertaken will be carefully managed in line with the advice from Public Health England.

Absence from assessment

We are reviewing our processes for managing absence from assessment to ensure we are as responsive to the situation as possible. The University already has processes in place for ensuring fair assessment outcomes when individual students’ assessment performance is adversely affected by circumstances outside your control (extenuating circumstances). Please be assured that all Boards of Examiners will take into account the impact of COVID-19 disruptions when making their progression and degree classification decisions.


Important information for Postgraduate Research students and Research staff


Accommodation changes in the third term

Our campuses will remain open to support anyone for whom the University continues to be your home.  However, given the way in which teaching and assessment will be delivered during the summer term, many of you may choose not to return to your University accommodation after the Easter break. 

The following accommodation blocks constitute University accommodation:

  • In Colchester:  South Courts; The Towers; Wolfson Court; North Houses; The Copse; The Meadows; The Quays.
  • In Southend: University Square.

If you have already left, intend on leaving or have left and still have belongings in your room, then you can be released from your accommodation contract from 1 April 2020.

Please complete this online form so that we can get an accurate account of which students are remaining on campus and which have or will be leaving:

  • You do not need to contact us or complete the form if you are remaining in your room until the end of your contract.
  • We will need to relocate some students staying on our campuses from their current rooms to the most suitable accommodation that we have available. We will let you know if this applies to you.
  • We may need to reallocate some student rooms  for NHS purposes and key workers during the pandemic to support critical services. We will let you know how this might affect you. 

Off Campus accommodation

We really appreciate that many students do not live in University accommodation, living off campus in shared houses or in privately run units.  Whilst the University cannot compel other landlords to follow suit, we are writing to all providers of student accommodation, informing them of the decision the University has taken and urging them to show similar flexibility. 


Hardship funding

We recognise that some students living on campus or in private accommodation may face financial hardship over the coming weeks and months, as opportunities for work alongside your studies reduce. In recognition of this, we have revised the way our student hardship fund will operate, opening it up to all students experiencing hardship and making it as easy and straightforward to apply for support. Find out more information

General travel guidance

The UK Government is advising against all non-essential travel, both internationally and within the UK.

This advice is initially for 30 days, starting 23 March 2020.

This means staff and students can’t travel on University of Essex business in this period and all planned trips within that time must be cancelled.

If you are currently abroad

If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return to the UK now.

International flights are already limited. The Government is providing up-to-date information on flights home from every country.

If you’re a UK national who needs emergency help from the UK government, you should contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. You can also call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 0207 008 1500 for help or advice 24/7. 

There is also advice available if you need financial help or support when abroad.

We appreciate this is a worrying time, and the situation is changing regularly. Please continue to check these pages regularly and email if you have any questions.

International students

Please contact the International Services Team within the University if you have any specific worries concerning travel and your immigration status in the UK via their online enquiry form.

Students on Erasmus + exchanges

Travel to and from regions affected by COVID-19 may have to be postponed or cancelled, and participants should speak to their provider in case alternative arrangements are necessary. Where this travel is funded through the Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps programmes, the Force Majeure clause in your contract may apply. See the National Agency’s website for more information.

International students and TIER 4 visas

Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught students

If you wish to leave your campus and continue your studies remotely, you should check with your Department/School that you do not need to be here for educational reasons. Providing you continue to engage and progress academically, the University will not need to take any action to withdraw our Tier 4 sponsorship and your Tier 4 immigration status will remain valid.  

If you are finishing your course this year and wish to leave the UK permanently to complete your course remotely from overseas, please check with your Department/School via email to ask if you can do so and copy in so that we can ensure you obtain further guidance regarding your Tier 4 visa.

PhD students

Provided that you continue to engage and progress academically and remain in contact with your Supervisor monthly via Zoom/Skype, the University will not need to take any action to withdraw our Tier 4 sponsorship and your Tier 4 immigration status will remain valid. If you are intending to leave the UK permanently and will submit your thesis remotely, please check with your Department/School via email to ask if you can do so and copy in so that we can ensure you obtain further guidance regarding your Tier 4 visa.

Campus services and facilities

  • all University public events and gatherings have been suspended.
  • all our University sports facilities have been closed

Student support

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Team will continue to operate a remote Drop In service between the hours of 09:30-16:00, for those who need someone to talk to and/or support with their Mental Health, Wellbeing or Disability.

Services open 

Colchester Campus

The majority of Colchester Campus is now closed and services are being delivered remotely with the exception of:

  • The SU Shop - our on-campus convenience shop, operated by the Students’ Union, is open. The Store is operating a hatch service to help ensure social distancing.
  • Essex Food outlets – offering a take-away service only
    • Monday to Sunday – Canteen – 9am to 5pm
  • Day Nursery – open to the children of key workers only - If you are a key worker as listed on the UK Government website please contact the nursery email as soon as possible.
  • Study areas - For information on computer availability go to the computers on campus section of the website. The following areas are available for study
    • Silberrad – floors 1 and 3 –
    • Lab C – 4S.5.7;
    • Lab A – 5.000;
    • Lab G – 4N.4.3;
    • Lab D – 4N.3.9
  • Post room - Open 8am -4.45pm
  • Accommodation, supported by essential services. If you have any queries regarding accommodation, please contact our Student Services Hub team by telephone or email or our out-of-hours guidance
  • The Health Centre - The Health Centre remains open, please visit the practice website for the latest guidance for making appointments and collecting prescriptions.

To contact our 24/7 security team please call 01206 872125.

In an emergency please call 01206 872222.

Southend Campus

Please be aware, The Gateway Building and The Forum are closed.

Students can still access services remotely including the Student Services Hub, the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Team, Library support and IT helpdesk. Your department will also continue to provide advice and support about your course and learning.

Your post

Due to the current situation we’ll be keeping all letters and packages in the Post Room ready for collection instead of delivering them to accommodation kitchens.

Students are welcome to check if any letters or packages have arrived for them by emailing or calling 01206 872064.

Those who are collecting registered items will be able to collect any other mail at the same time.


IT Helpdesk support

We are changing the way you can contact the IT Helpdesk in response to the developing COVID-19 situation.

All IT walk-up desks are now closed.

We will continue to be your first point of contact for IT problems and queries. You can contact us remotely Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm (GMT) via the following channels:

The IT Solutions team may use Zoom to connect to your home PC/laptop/Mac to help troubleshoot any issues that you might have, however, please use one of the methods above for new support calls.

Risk of infection in the UK

The UK Government has issued regulations to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.

Health professionals will contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.

It is safe to attend the University for work or study.

Find out more on the NHS website.


Public Health England will not be testing those self-isolating with mild symptoms.

If you have been tested for COVID-19 and are a confirmed case please inform email

If you have underlying health conditions, pregnant or over 70

People of all ages can contract COVID-19 and if you have an underlying medical condition (such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes or are immunosuppressed) you are not at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, however should you become infected with COVID-19 you could be at greater risk of complications.

People with underlying health conditions or on immunosuppressant, medication should seek advice if they develop flu like symptoms (temperature, cough, shortness of breath).

If you're pregnant or undergoing IVF treatment

Although viruses like COVID-19 can sometimes cause more severe symptoms if you are pregnant, your risk of getting it in the UK is low.

Make sure you follow simple hygiene measures to stop viruses like COVID-19 spreading, like regularly washing your hands with soap and water and avoiding people who are unwell.

Call 111 for advice if you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19.

If you are unsure whether you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are worried about yourself or your baby, speak to your midwife or GP for advice.


Facemasks play a very important role in places like hospitals, but there is very little evidence of widespread benefit for members of the public.

Therefore, current advice from Public Health England does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus and wash your hands with soap afterwards.

We recognise that it is custom for some to wear facemasks to protect themselves and others from infection. It is important within the University of Essex community that we understand and respect this custom for what is a personal choice.

If you see behaviour towards anyone that is unpleasant, please contact the University via Report and Support.

Campus cleaning and hygiene

We’re continuing to focus on keeping our campuses as clean and hygienic as possible. We encourage members of our community to support our efforts by washing hands regularly and using the hand sanitisers provided across our campuses.

Hardship Funding

The University has a Hardship Fund, which has been revised in the light of COVID-19 It is now open to all students who are in current unexpected financial hardship, this includes EU and International students for the first time.

The amount awarded will be up to £500 depending on individual circumstances. Those students who continue to be in financial hardship following an award may apply again, as long as they provide an updated supporting statement and evidence.

The requirement for evidence has been reduced, making the process simpler, particularly for those who are currently unable to obtain certain forms of evidence. The turnaround time has been significantly reduced to allow students to access financial support much quicker – now within 5 working days.

Students who are in particular financial hardship will be prioritised.

Full details are available on the funding webpage along with the revised application form. Anyone with any queries can email

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