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Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: 8am, 27 May 2020

The University is reflecting the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England, UKCISA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Frequently asked questions:

Campus and Halls

Is campus still open?

In line with the UK Government’s latest advice about coronavirus and in common with many other universities, the University suspended all physical face to face teaching (including laboratories, seminars and tutorials) and closed all non-essential sites.

Our libraries, Manchester Museum, Jodrell Bank and Whitworth Art Gallery, as well as most of our teaching and research buildings, are closed for physical access. Certain essential services and facilities and halls of residence will remain open.

Read the full statement here.

Accommodation

If you have rented accommodation in the private sector, you may have some questions relating to your tenancy and belongings.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions but you can also contact Manchester Student Homes by email at manchesterstudenthomes@manchester.ac.uk or on 0161 275 7680. Our team is currently working remotely to make sure that we can offer you advice and guidance at this time on any housing or community related questions you may have.

I have signed a contract for a house/apartment/private hall room but have moved home. Can I cancel it?

You have signed in to a legally binding contract, so it is up to each accommodation provider to make the decision about whether they are able to provide a concession, or to write off the remaining rent due. This will be at the accommodation provider’s discretion for a variety of reasons, for example they may not be in a position to incur the financial loss.

Currently, Government support for accommodation providers centres on a ‘mortgage holiday’. As it stands, it may not be possible for your accommodation provider to waive your rent payments for the remaining term of the contract.

We would recommend that you try to have a conversation with your accommodation provider to see if they are able to offer any concessions or negotiations on your rent.

You could also ask for a reasonable payment plan e.g. £100 per month for an agreed number of months. Government has announced that accommodation providers cannot deny a reasonable payment plan. If the case is taken to court, any details of correspondence you have sent asking for a payment plan that the accommodation provider denied could be used as evidence in your favour.  Please ensure that communications are detailed in writing and any telephone conversations are followed up with written confirmation (this should be standard practice for any dealing with your accommodation provider).

I have signed a contract for a house/apartment/private hall room for the next academic year. Can I defer my move in date?

You have signed into a legally binding contract for a fixed period, you can speak to your accommodation provider to see if they will defer the contract. However, this would most likely mean that your contract would end at a later date.

I have signed a contract for a house/apartment/private hall room for the next academic year, but am now deferring University for a year. What do I do?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding -contract and all tenants are obliged to its terms until the end of the fixed period. To avoid any contractual breaches there are a couple of things you should make sure to do. These are as follows:

  1. Inform the other tenants (not applicable to those on an individual contract)
  2. Inform your accommodation provider.
  3. Seek an alternative tenant by advertising on Manchester Student Homes’ Message Board and posting on Manchester Student Homes’ Facebook page.
  4. Once an alternative tenant has been found, contact the accommodation provider and the tenants to arrange for a transfer of names to occur.
  5. Ensure that your name has been removed from the tenancy.

Note: The replacement tenant must be accepted by all parties (where applicable) involved in the contract. If a replacement tenant is not found you are still liable for the contractual obligations (including rent) of the tenancy.

You are welcome to post as many messages as you like and in more than one section of the Manchester Student Homes’ Message Board. In the message you should include detail such as:

  • Whether it is a house or a Private Hall
  • The number of tenants the house/flat accommodates
  • How much the room is
  • Whether or not bills are included in the rent
  • Location of the property
  • Facilities
  • Distance from the University campus
  • Time it takes to get to the campus
  • Your contact number (if you prefer)

It will be beneficial for you to reply to existing posts where students are looking for accommodation.

How do I deal with my belongings that I have left in Manchester?

Following on from Government and University advice, many students have left their term time address and returned home due to the Covid-19 pandemic leaving their belongings in privately rented rooms in Manchester and we appreciate that there is a lot of uncertainty on how to proceed.

On 13th May government announced a partial lifting of restrictions on the housing market – it is currently not understood whether students are allowed to travel to collect belongings and clear the current property of items as per the clauses in your tenancy agreement. As soon as guidance is issued on these arrangements we will publicise the governments advice.

Tenants are legally protected by Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. There is a legal duty on the accommodation provider to take reasonable care of the goods until they are returned to their owner, they also have a responsibility to protect and keep secure any belongings that have been left in a property. If an accommodation provider sells or disposes of the goods without taking the correct steps the tenant could advance a civil claim against them.

In scenarios where accommodation providers believe that belongings have been abandoned, with no intention from the tenant to collect them, they should ensure to receive express consent from the tenant before disposing of belongings. Accommodation providers should be able to demonstrate that several attempts were made to contact the tenant and a reasonable period of time had lapsed before disposing of the goods.

Tenants should liaise with their accommodation provider and housemates regarding plans for packing belongings in a reasonable time limit. Please ensure that communications are detailed in writing and any telephone conversations are followed up with written confirmation (this should be standard practice for any dealing with your accommodation provider).

I have left Manchester and will not be returning. What does this mean for me?

Tenants who have been repatriated to their home country or do not intend to return to Manchester will need to seek assistance from their accommodation provider, housemates and/or friends in the city. Personal belongings should be organised, packed and shipped to the tenant’s overseas or UK address. It should be noted that although the accommodation provider is obliged to secure a tenant’s personal belongings, it is not for an extended period and there may be storage and ultimately removal costs involved. Tenants should liaise with their ‘packer’ and arrange for the shipper to collect packed items at a convenient time.

Studying, teaching and assessments

Will campus be open for the next year?

For returning undergraduate students:

  • w/c 28 September: Welcome back week, with School and programme level introductions to your new level of study, plus an opportunity to cover any essential material from the last session
  • w/c 5 October: Teaching starts

We are following UK Government advice closely and plan to either begin the new semester wholly online, or deliver some activity on campus but provide our lectures and some other aspects of learning online. What this means is that you will still be able to engage with your programme effectively, and receive a really high quality learning experience, no matter what the circumstances.

We are absolutely committed to continuing to deliver the high-quality student experience that you expect here at Manchester and are very much looking forward to seeing you physically back on campus as soon as we can. To support social distancing and help you (and our staff) adapt, we are planning to welcome students back in a phased manner. This approach will be informed by the latest UK Government advice, but as we anticipate social distancing measures will be in place for some time, we have taken the decision to conduct all lectures for Semester 1 online as a lecture theatre environment does not easily support spatial separation. This being the case, we are keen to continue with other face to face activities such as small group teaching and tutorials as safely and as early as we can, subject to UK Government advice.

You will also be able to benefit from an extended and enhanced period of welcome and development activities, specifically designed to support you in returning to your studies with us and to help you get even more out of your time at university. This will include an opportunity to cover any essential material which you may have missed during the last session, as well as a range of activities and workshops that go beyond your core curriculum.

I am studying an online/blended learning course – have my term dates changed for 2020/21?

Most online and blended learning courses are maintaining their originally advertised and communicated term dates for the 2020/21 academic year. Should this change, your School will contact you directly.

We are following UK Government advice closely and based on this, we are very much expecting that some form of social distancing measures will continue at least until the end of the calendar year. For those of you on blended programmes (where some activity takes place on campus), we want to welcome you back to campus or into one of our International Centres safely as soon as we possibly can, but there may need to be some changes to the way we all live and work in our University community. We are exploring a number of options, to incorporate new social distancing rules for campus teaching spaces and facilities.

We are aware that there may be some students unable to join us on campus, for example due to travel restrictions or medical advice. To ensure that those students are not excluded or disadvantaged in any way, we will have online options in place to enable those students to study wholly online.

Our priority is maintaining the quality and standards of our awards, alongside student and staff safety. We may need to operate slightly differently for a while, but we are always here for you and will do everything we can to ensure that your Manchester student experience remains one to be proud of.

How can I access Library resources?

The Library provides access to one of the most extensive collections of digital resources in the UK, which are available from any location and device. Staff and students can search and access our electronic content using Library Search and/or install our browser extensions which will help ease access to our subscribed e-content. You may need to re-install browser extensions if you are using a different device whilst you are studying at home. If the Library does not hold electronic copies of the books that you need for your studies, please use the Order a book serviceand we will get them for you, where available. The Order an article service is also open to all staff and students. If the Library does not hold an electronic copy of the article that you need, complete the order form and we will get it for you. 

Full details of how to access Library resources and services while our sites are closed can be found on our Service availability page, which is being updated regularly.

I have a Library book on loan, what should I do?

We recognise that there is an issue with returning library books. Unfortunately, due to government restrictions and the closure of University buildings we are unable to accept book returns until the campus begins to physically re-open.

We have renewed library books until 25June 2021 and we will not charge any fines. If you have any concerns, we are happy to help. Please contact us through Library Chat or our online enquiry service.  We will update this FAQ  and contact everyone with items on loan as soon as we are able to offer any alternative methods of return.

I am having difficulties accessing online learning, what should I do?

If you are having difficulties accessing the University network, or need advice and support with accessing online services, you can email helpmegetonline@manchester.ac.uk for help with accessing online learning and assessments.

Alternatively you can also call +44 (0) 161 306 6199 (Monday to Friday during UK Office hours).

We have updated our guides to accessing learning online here.

What will happen with assessments and exams?

We will be taking a ‘no disadvantage’ approach for all assessments that replace on-campus exams this summer. This is just one of the supportive arrangements that we have introduced since suspension of on-campus teaching. All these arrangements are aimed at helping you progress with your studies without worrying that achievements that you have already made will be negatively affected by the difficult conditions under which you are working.

Alongside your wellbeing, our priority is for you to earn a qualification that is of high quality and valued by employers and, for certain programmes, in line with the standards and requirements of external accrediting bodies.  For our externally regulated programmes, we continue to engage with accreditors regarding the finer details of their expectations and to inform them of the changes we are making.  Your programme team will have been keeping you informed of amendments to teaching and assessment for your programme of study and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis if further changes are made. 

  • First year and internal Foundation Year students will progress automatically to your next year of study – though we will provide learning and assessment opportunities after Easter. There will however be formative assessment opportunities (which means the marks won’t count, but you will get helpful feedback). We strongly encourage you to take part, because this will help your confidence and support you in preparing for next year. If your marks show you might not normally have progressed, you will have one-to-one advice to talk through your options.
  • In the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the no-disadvantage policy will apply to any summer assessments which replace scheduled exams. In most cases you will not require further summer assessments, because you have already accumulated enough marks to progress or successfully complete your award.
  • In the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, the no-disadvantage policy will apply to those programmes where decisions have been taken to replace scheduled on-campus summer exams with alternative assessments. This and all other changes to assessments may be subject to the approval of programme specific regulators and so your programme team will keep you informed if this is the case.
  • In the Faculty of Humanities, the no-disadvantage policy will apply to any summer assessments which replace scheduled exams, but will also cover all assessments submitted during Semester 2, including all coursework, dissertations and projects.
  • All students taking UCIL units should complete Semester 2 coursework assessments. No summer examinations will take place. The no disadvantage policy will then be applied by schools as agreed within the Faculty.

Will I still be sent through my exam timetable?

There will be no exam timetable sent out centrally as there has been during previous exam periods, as exam arrangments will differ by programme. You should hear directly from your department or School about when assessments or exams will be taking place and what the arrangements are.

I’m not feeling well, what should I do with regards to my study?

Should I submit a request for mitigating circumstances to cover the impact of coronavirus?

No, you don’t need to do this, as steps will be taken for all students across all programmes to minimise the academic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

You only need to submit a claim for Mitigating Circumstances if your illness or personal circumstances relating to COVID-19 is impacting on your ability to engage with the online learning resources resulting in you being unable to submit your assessment.

There are issues with my health which are preventing me from engaging with online learning -what should I do?

If you have been ill for seven days or less you can self-certificate using the self-certification procedure. If you have been ill for longer than seven days or you think you are not going to be better in time to complete your assessment, you should submit a claim for Mitigating Circumstances. 

If you are too ill to engage with your studies online, you must contact your School office.  In your email please make sure to include your name, your university number and the programme you are studying on.  This will help us to keep an accurate record about who is affected and to give you further guidance.

I’ve been ill for longer than seven days and this has impacted my ability to study and may impact my assessments – what should I do?

You will need to submit a claim for mitigating circumstances to your School.  You will not be required to submit any supporting evidence of your illness with your claim.

I’ve been ill for longer than seven days and I have not been able to study – what should I do?

If your period of illness will impact on you being able to complete your assessments or means that you will need to request an extension then you will need to submit a claim for mitigating circumstances to your School.  You will not be required to submit any supporting evidence of your illness with your claim.

What evidence will I need to submit with my Mitigating Circumstances or Self Certification claim?

If you are self-certifying you will not need to submit any evidence.

For claims for Mitigating Circumstances relating to illness where you would normally be required to provide a doctor’s certificate or other medical evidence, the University has agreed to remove the requirement to provide this evidence for the rest of the academic session 2019/20. (This relates only to claims submitted after the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, once face-to-face teaching ceased on the University campus and teaching moved online).

I’m self-isolating for 14 days should I submit Mitigating Circumstances or Self Certify?

Providing you are well and working online you do not need to submit either.  You only need to submit a claim for mitigating circumstances if you have been ill during your isolation and unable to work and this will impact on your ability to be able to submit any of your assessments.

I’m worried about self-isolating, social distancing, and being able to access my on online learning. What should I do?

We will do all we can to support you and your learning during this time.  As far as possible all of your learning will be on-line and accessible, and relevant notes and materials will be uploaded into Blackboard.  Staff will reply as promptly as possible to any specific requests you make, through email or Blackboard, for academic support. 

Will my Graduation ceremony still take place?

We have, regrettably, decided to postpone our graduation ceremonies this July. Students who complete their degree requirements will, of course, still graduate – even though there won’t be an immediate ceremony.

Certificates will be sent by post so please make sure that
your student record is up-to-date in My Manchester.

At this stage, we expect that our December graduation ceremonies will go ahead as scheduled. However, we will keep this under review and will provide more details nearer the time for students who would normally expect to graduate in December.

You can read our graduation frequently asked questions here.

Support and wellbeing

This is impacting on my mental health and wellbeing. What support is available?

Our support services are available to offer advice and guidance remotely, as they would on a face to face basis. You can find the full list of contacts on the student support website, which also includes lots of other resources to help support your wellbeing.

Is there any financial support available?

We know that a number of students have started to struggle financially because of a sudden change of circumstances (e.g. through the loss of part time work). We want as many students as possible to be able to continue with their studies and so from today, we are widening access to our student hardship fund and making it easier to make an application.

The fund, which can award both small grants and loans, is now open to all students, regardless of mode of study or nationality. Further details can be found here or by emailing funding@manchester.ac.uk.

As a student receiving financial support, will this continue uninterrupted?

All students in receipt of financial support e.g. the Manchester Bursary, will continue to receive their instalments as planned. We are committed to maintaining support for all of our students.

I have an existing condition, for which I am registered with DASS which has become worse and I am studying online/am too ill to study online?

Please notify your School if the impact of the exacerbation of your condition means you need support and/or advice.

I am a student on work placement, should I still be working?

Government guidance is very clear that workplaces should make every possible effort to enable working from home (with appropriate support provided to help facilitate that) and that individuals should only be asked to attend their workplace where this is not possible. As such, we expect that, in the vast majority of cases, students on work placement will be working from home. Some of our students are attending work, such as those carrying out essential work in healthcare services. 

If working from home is not possible and your placement provider asks you to attend work, then they must follow Government guidance, including making every effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines. There are also additional considerations in relation to individuals who are vulnerable or live with someone who is vulnerable.

Your health and wellbeing are our priority and if you have concerns about any aspect of your placement (including being asked to attend your workplace) which you cannot resolve with your supervisor or manager at your placement provider, then please contact your School for advice in relation to the options available to you.

How can I get involved in volunteering to help in the current crisis?

As the country mobilises to meet the challenge of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic many hundreds of thousands of people are volunteering. This is also true of our University, where many staff and students are stepping forward to apply their knowledge and experience, and to benefit society. We want to support you if you are considering volunteering and the guidance below should help you to decide the best way you can contribute.

Emergency Volunteer Leave for students with specific health and social care skills

A temporary new form of statutory leave has been created by the Government through the Coronavirus Bill. This is a duty upon employers to grant leave in blocks of 2/3/4 weeks for employees with specific health and social care skills, who wish to volunteer their time.  The University will do its best to recognise requests in the same way from students where that student has particular skills which would be valuable. Noting that you would need to discuss the implications of any such leave on your studies, if you are a student interested in considering this option you should speak to your Academic Adviser in the first instance. Faculty of Medicine Biology and Health students may be able to help in clinical settings or in specific NHS related roles. Again, please speak to your School about opportunities that may be relevant for you.

All other Students

There’s lots of information for students on volunteering is available at www.manchester.ac.uk/volunteers including directing people to the best local and national opportunities related to the current situation. Please remember to not put yourself at risk and you must at all times follow NHS rules on social distancing, which are designed to protect everyone.

Travel and visas

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has published advice for students planning to travel in the UK or oversees, and the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has published their advice for international students.

Do you anticipate any travel restrictions for students coming to the UK?

We will be closely following the UK government’s advice with regard to any quarantine requirement for inbound travellers to the UK in order to understand any impact it may have upon our new and returning students by September/October 2020 and what arrangements may need to be put in place to support our students.

I am on placement – what should I do?

If you are an undergraduate on a study or work placement overseas you should have received a number of communications from the International Programmes Office.  Please see here for copies of the communications and other useful information.  If you are a Masters student or PhD student on placement overseas, please contact your School office or Supervisor.

I am planning a trip abroad and have a non-UK passport, what should I do?

If you are planning to travel to other countries please be aware that if you have a non-UK passport, some countries are adding visa restrictions in efforts to contain the virus.  Please ensure your visa is valid before making any bookings.

I am worried about my visa status. What should I do?

The UK Home Office publishes regular updates. The latest advice is that all foreign nationals whose UK visas expire any time from 24 January 2020 and who cannot leave the country because of travel bans or self-isolation, should contact the Home Office if they wish to extend their stay in the UK. Their visas will be extended to 31 May 2020.

Details on what to do to obtain this visa extension are within the link above.

I’m an international student what should I do if I miss a police registration appointment due to Covid 19 restrictions?

Police registration appointments have been suspended until further notice. If you have booked an appointment or have an appointment due in the next month, you just need to keep the evidence of your appointment which shows that you done what you can to meet the conditions of your visa. When appointments resume, we will e-mail students whose appointments are known to have been cancelled and also announce the resumption of appointments on our police registration page. You will need to rebook your appointment through MyManchester and attend your appointment with the police to fulfil your visa conditions.

I’m an international student, will studying/researching online affect my Tier 4 visa?

No, if you are studying/researching online or are too ill to study/research but have notified us, we will continue to maintain sponsorship of your visa.

As an international student, migrant or visitor can I access COVID-19 medical treatment?

No charges apply to international students or overseas visitors for testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.

I’m an international student trying to return home. Can I get an extension?

Yes. If you are not able to access your online learning as you are trying to return to your home overseas you can submit a mitigating circumstances request to seek an extension due to the disruption you are facing.

I would like to travel abroad, what should I do?

Please visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the most up-to-date travel advice.

Fees and Refunds

Will the University be refunding me part of my tuition fees?

The decision to suspend face-to-face teaching with effect from 16 March was taken in light of Government advice to protect the health and wellbeing of staff and students, and was beyond our reasonable control. Although physical face-to face-teaching has been suspended, the University continues to support all our learners to achieve their desired learning outcomes including, academically, by mitigating the impact of the current situation through making suitable alternative provision in the areas of teaching, learning and assessment. These changes have been made to protect health and wellbeing, implement government requirements and to seek to preserve the continuity of teaching, learning and assessment. In light of the steps we are taking and all of the circumstances, we will not be refunding tuition fees. All of our decisions are being made in your interest, to help you progress in your studies and earn a qualification which you can be proud of, and which will be valued by employers and accrediting bodies.

Can I withhold my tuition fee?

It is important that you continue to pay your tuition fees by the published due date. Where a tuition fee payment remains outstanding beyond the published due date, an indicator will be applied to your student record. You will be notified of this via your University email account and asked to contact Credit Control to arrange payment. Until payment or a payment plan has been agreed you will be unable to re-register or graduate.

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