2020 applicants

How to come onto our campuses

We want to remind everyone we all have a part to play in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Please remember to:

We’re also asking you to wear a face covering in all public areas where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing. We’re also asking you to wear a face covering in all lectures.

If you are medically exempt from wearing a face covering you must contact include@essex.ac.uk for advice and guidance to ensure your own and others safety.

We’ll be helping you with signs and floor-markings in key locations so please check and follow all guidance. We’ve also introduced enhanced cleaning including regular cleaning and disinfection of high touch points.

It might take longer to get around our campuses due to new rules so please don’t rush and allow yourself extra-time.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the latest Government and scientific advice so we can respond quickly to any changes and update you. We’ve completed a full risk assessment and will be implementing control measures to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our community.

We’ll be supporting you through the challenges of returning to our campuses

We need to support each other at this time so let’s be patient as we all learn to change our behaviour on our campuses. Also, if you are worried about the health and wellbeing of someone you know please let someone know.

Returning to campus this year

Do I have to start on/or return to campus?

Essex is a campus university, and we will continue to offer a transformational on-campus experience. The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online/ virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced wifi provision across our campuses.

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for us to rethink what really matters to our students in the current circumstances. We are taking the opportunity to adapt how we support you to enjoy a transformative student experience, whether you are studying on one of our three campuses, or wherever you are. We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life.

What if I can’t arrive right away?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start their course. So if for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that once you have completed your registration online you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. In this way we will support you to study in a way that suits your needs in this difficult time. Our flexible approach is also designed to support you to continue learning if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

Things are a little different for those studying at our East 15 Acting School. You can find out more information on the East 15 website.

How do I let you know I won’t be arriving straight away?

We know that some of you may need or want to start the term by accessing your learning wholly remotely (either because you have chosen not to/been unable to arrive on campus for the beginning of term or you have arrived on campus but, for COVID-19 reasons, need to move temporarily to remote learning). It is important you tell us if you need to access your learning wholly remotely and if, at any point, your circumstances change.

You can tell us how you plan to study by going to your My Essex portal and completing the Student Study Form. We will update your timetable with the links so that you can access your classes and lectures online.

Please note, that if you are studying at our East 15 Acting School, we can only offer remote learning from 5 October - 9 November 2020. After this period, the expectation is that you will be available to attend sessions on the relevant campus (unless there are any changes made to government guidelines that make this impossible).

How do I register and take part in welcome and induction activities if I intend to start my study remotely?

Whether you are able to start with us on campus or are studying remotely, all students will be able to register online from 1 September and to participate fully in our new online Welcome experience and induction with your Department or School. All students will receive information on welcome activities whether they are on campus or not.

How do I join you when I am able travel to campus?

When you are able to travel to campus you should do so, making appropriate arrangements relating to quarantine if necessary. You should update your student portal when you arrive so that we can adjust your timetable to enable you to take part in small group face to face teaching, with social distancing.

All new students must also attend a Right to Study check with your ID documents so we can confirm you have the right to study in the UK, and that your identity is correct. At this point, we’ll give you your student registration card.

Will I be able to study off campus for the whole year?

Even if you are not able to travel to join us for the start of the year, you can still benefit from a transformational Essex education. We hope and expect that you will join us when you can to take full advantage of our on-campus offer, but if you need to study remotely, we will work with you to support you, whatever your circumstances.

Please note that whether you can study online for the whole year is dependent on what department and course you are applying for. To find out more please visit our department pages which have further details about how teaching will be delivered.

We appreciate that our students are living through changed circumstances, and we are absolutely committed to doing all we can to help you to continue learning through this period.

Please note, that if you are studying at our East 15 Acting School, we can only offer remote learning from 5 October - 9 November 2020. After this period, the expectation is that you will be available to attend sessions on the relevant campus (unless there are any changes made to government guidelines that make this impossible).

Important information for non-UK nationals

If you aren’t able to arrive in time for the start of the Autumn term here are a few things you need to be aware of

New Student Immigration Rules

Please be aware that the UK’s Immigration Rules are changing, the new rules for students will apply to:

  • Non-EEA nationals submitting an application from 9am on the 5 October 2020 and;
  • EEA/Swiss nationals who aren’t able to arrive in the UK by 31 December 2020 and don’t already have settlement in the UK

Please read the UKCISA news page and the government website for more information about the new ‘Student’ route.

Before you apply under the new rules please ensure you understand the requirements and can make a valid application. If you need further guidance regarding the new rules please read the UKCISA guidance and contact the UKCISA student advice line.

Our immigration pages will be updated as soon as possible but there may be a delay as the introduction of the new rules co-insides with the start of the Autumn term.

European and Swiss students

If you don’t already have settlement in the UK, we recommend you arrive to live in the UK no later than 31 December 2020. You’ll then be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and won’t need to apply for a visa to study. Please read the extensive UKCISA guidance for EEA/Swiss nationals and contact their student advice line if you have any questions.

If you plan to arrive on or after 1 January 2021, you will need to apply for a visa to study with us under the UK’s new Immigration Rules. Please read the section above ‘New Student Immigration Rules’ and follow the links for more information.

Students issued with a CAS or a Tier 4/Student visa 

The Home Office introduced temporary Covid-19 concessions to the Tier 4 Immigration Rules which enable sponsored students to study via blended learning (a mix of in person and online) in 2020-21.  Under these concessions it is also possible for current students with a Tier 4/Student visa to study remotely from overseas and for new students we issue a CAS to, to start their course by distance learning overseas provided you are intending to come to the UK to continue your course on campus as soon as it is possible to do so. If your department have agreed that you can study remotely from overseas initially and come to campus when your in-person teaching starts, there’s some important information you’ll need to read and actions you’ll need to take if you would like to retain our sponsorship.

We are required to monitor your engagement and attendance from the start of the Autumn term and withdraw our immigration sponsorship if you aren’t engaging with your studies, this includes whilst you are studying remotely from overseas.

If you apply for your visa from 9am 5 October 2020, you will be applying under the UK’s new ‘Student’ immigration rules and will be issued with a ‘Student’ visa rather than a ‘Tier 4’ visa, please read the section above ‘New Student Immigration Rules’ and follow the links for more information.

If you are interested in staying in the UK under the new Graduate route when you complete your course, please be aware that the Home Office have stipulated that eligible students must be in the UK studying by 6 April 2021 and, must complete their last semester inside the UK. You must also be able to meet all the other Immigration Rules in force at the time. The Graduate route immigration rules are due to be published in the Spring of 2021 and will apply to eligible students graduating from the Summer of 2021, guidance on working after your studies is available from UKCISA.

Other UK immigration permission

If you are from outside the European Economic Area/Switzerland, you will need to hold UK immigration permission that allows you to study your course with us from the start of the Autumn term and for the duration of your course. You’ll be able to register for the 2020-21 academic year online from 1 September. If you are in the UK, even if you are studying online initially, you must attend a right to study check before you can attend your teaching events either in person or online.

If you are starting a new course or, continuing a course but your immigration documents have expired, we will need to see your immigration documents before you can start the 2020/2021 academic year.

Read our immigration pages for information about applying for a visa to study with us including our news page for updates.

Washing hands

The health advice is clear. Regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is central to preventing COVID-19 transmission.

We will be making sure that all hand washing facilities are cleaned and checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order and we want you to report any problems to the Estates helpdesk.

Wiping down surfaces with detergent, sanitisers or warm washing-up liquid and then washing your hands will also help to reduce the risk of transmission.

We’ll be providing anti-bacterial wipes in central areas to help you wipe down keyboards or workstations. 

Social distancing and moving around our campus

Social distancing is still really important. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and in protecting themselves, their family, and the University of Essex community.

Walking around the campus might take longer than you expect due to social distancing measures, but you’re helping keep everyone safe.

It’s okay to take your time, give people space and you might need to queue. Follow the signage when you are moving around outside or in our buildings. Being kind and staying positive is going to help everyone.

We all need to remember that some of our community might be feeling vulnerable or worried. This might be for personal health reasons or they live with someone vulnerable so we all need to pay attention to social distancing guidance and support each other through this difficult time.

Social distancing in lecture rooms, IT labs and study spaces

We’ve thought carefully about the layout in your lecture rooms. Seating layouts will be clearly displayed for you and we’ll rearrange furniture if necessary. You’ll need to remember to maintain social distancing if you are waiting to go into a lecture.

Follow signs and guidance in study spaces. You can really help by not sharing workstations and equipment when you are in study spaces.

In IT labs you can use the machines marked with a green dot. Please wipe the keyboard, mouse and table before you use them and afterwards.

Social distancing in shops, food outlets, bars and banks

If you are in enclosed spaces like shops, food outlets or banks, please follow the signs, check your distance and don’t forget your face covering.

The number of people allowed into different outlets might be limited to ensure social distancing. It might also take longer to serve you and you might need to queue longer than normal.

Please also pay by contactless card if you can, although you can still use cash.

Social distancing, gatherings and local restrictions in Essex

The county of Essex (except Southend) is now in the HIGH local Covid alert level (Tier 2). Please familiarise yourself with what you can and can't do. For example, you can’t:

  • visit other people’s houses
  • socialise with people you don’t live with indoors

This means no house parties or meet ups inside pubs, bars or restaurants with anyone outside your home.

Southend remains for the time being in the MEDIUM local Covid alert level (Tier 1).

Social distancing in toilets

Remember that social distancing applies in toilets too. Give people space. If no cubicles are vacant just pop back outside until someone leaves then go back in.

Travelling to our campuses

When travelling to the University avoid, where possible, public transport. If you have to use public transport, wear a face covering and try to avoid rush hours.

Face coverings

Face masks/face coverings must be worn in all indoor University premises and in all areas where social distancing may be difficult to maintain.

If you feel you should be exempt from wearing a face covering you must contact ohquery@essex.ac.uk providing a brief outline of the reasons for your exemption. Occupational health will then contact you to discuss further and where appropriate issue you with a lanyard and card to ensure you are quickly recognised and not challenged inside University buildings.

Social / Physical Distancing and hand-washing remain highly important and must continue in line with wearing of face coverings. (There is an exemption to wearing face coverings where a person has a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability).

See Section Five of Adapting our Behaviours Essential information (.pdf)

Why do I need to wear a face covering?

We’ve completed full risk assessments of our campuses and we’re implementing control measures to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our community. We continue to follow the latest Government and scientific advice; the best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) droplets, helping to protect others. 

We all want to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and wearing face coverings is one method, which we’re implementing on our campuses. Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing; these remain highly important to stop the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and must continue in addition to wearing face coverings.

Where do I have to wear a face covering?

Face masks/face coverings must be worn in all indoor University premises and in all areas where social distancing may be difficult to maintain.

Face coverings must be worn in the following University areas:

  • All internal corridor, lobby/access areas
  • In all teaching spaces, labs, IT rooms, private study spaces and common rooms.  (The lecturer may wear a face visor in place of a face covering, but students must wear face coverings).
  • All kitchens and WC facilities.
  • Lifts when these are available for general use and limited to one occupant.
  • All internal catering facilities.
  • Library general areas.
  • Shower/changing/locker rooms.
  • Where staff or students feel social distancing is likely to be reduced below the prescribed distance.
  • In any circumstance where staff or students through personal choice wish to wear a face covering.
  • When directed to do so by specific departmental risk assessments which may include use of specific Personal Protective Equipment (facemasks/gloves/aprons) relating to particular activities.

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering you must contact include@essex.ac.uk for advice and guidance to ensure your own and others safety.

Do I have to wear a face covering?

If you feel able to wear a mask or face covering, then you must. However, there are exemptions for wearing face coverings and we understand for some, wearing a face mask even for a short period of time can be difficult. 

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering you must contact include@essex.ac.uk for advice and guidance to ensure your own and others safety

Where can I get a face covering?

All staff and students on our campuses will be issued with two washable face coverings in the autumn term.

If you are a new student, you will receive your face covering either when you collect your keys for your campus accommodation, when you arrive to complete your right to study ID check, or when you attend one of our COVID-19 Test Centres. If you are a returning student, you will be able to collect your face coverings when you attend one of our COVID-19 Test Centres Information about our Test Centres will be emailed directly to you.

How should I wear my face covering?

Please remember face masks or coverings will only be effective if they are worn properly, covering the nose and mouth and fitted snugly, and kept clean. Make sure you change your face covering daily and wash your hands when putting it on or taking it off your face.

The University of Essex provided face coverings have a metal insert stitched in them, this should be positioned so it is at the top over your nose. Pinch the metal insert against the bridge of your nose which will not only help keep it in place and not slip down, but also ensure you have a better fit. When not in use please store the face covering in a sealed bag. It should be washed regularly.

If you chose to wear a disposable paper mask with one blue side and one white side, the blue side should be on the outside. Once you have used the paper mask, please dispose of it in a bin.

COVID-19 teaching safety procedures

See our standard and non-standard face-to-face teaching procedures and find out which responsibilities students and staff have during face-to-face teaching events.

Pay by card if you can

You can still use cash in our eateries and shops, but please use contactless card payments if possible. That way we can keep to a minimum the number of times anyone has to touch cash.

Supporting you through COVID-19

Enhanced cleaning

Enhanced cleaning will be undertaken in some communal areas including more regular cleaning and disinfection of high touch points.

Where a member of staff or student has been identified as being COVID-19 positive, and the work/study area cannot be left fallow for 72 hours, deep cleaning protocols will be implemented.

Of course our cleaning teams will also continue to provide essential cleaning in both academic areas and student accommodation.

Keeping you updated

We’ll be giving you regular updates through our webpages and regular email updates.

There will be signage explaining the latest prevention measures in place in our buildings and services across the campuses.

Find out more about COVID-19 and how the University are supporting you on our COVID-19 Student web pages


We’re delivering online learning for all students about reducing COVID-19 risks on our campuses.

Promoting your wellbeing

Our Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service is always there for you to offer you guidance and support. If for any reason stricter social distancing measures are reintroduced we’ll adapt our services so we can continue to offer you the support you need.

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