Latest information as of 14/05/2020

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

The following is the latest update from the Guild of Students which details our current response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will continue to update this page with any new information as the situation develops. Please keep checking your University emails and following the University’s regularly updated COVID-19 statement and FAQ’s page for up-to-date information and advice.

The Guild’s current response

Following the escalation of the UK Government’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Guild of Students would like to clarify our current position regarding Guild activity and events.

Like other Universities, students’ unions and other higher education facilities around the world, the Guild is responding to the evolving situation regarding the outbreak and making changes to daily practices accordingly, taking into consideration the Government’s latest advice.

What does this mean?

Guild Services

The Guild building is closed. We are currently due to remain closed until 1st July. All Guild events and activities that were due to take place during this period have been cancelled. However, Guild staff are now working remotely to support our student community and all Guild services are available via email:

Guild Central Events

As ever, our highest priority is the health and wellbeing of our students and staff and any furhther action we take will be with this concern most firmly in mind. Therefore, we have come to the decision that, as of 17th March, all Guild events for the rest of term, including Guild Awards 2020, will be cancelled.

Please see our FAQ's for more.

UoB Virtual Neighbourhood

If you're social distancing and are wondering how you can still get involved with your campus community, we've got you! The Guild is so much more than just a building, so we have now set up a UoB Virtual Neighbourhood on Facebook, so we can stick together as a community.

From morning workouts, to recipe sharing, to book reviews or watch parties - this is a home from home - a place for us to support and entertain each other throughout these strange times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Graduation FAQs:

Yes, the University are working hard to ensure that all final year students, at all levels who can complete this year, will do so. This includes those who were on the waiting list for a place at a July 2020 Graduations.

Students completing their studies this summer will have their degree conferred in absentia by Special Warrant - so you’ll be able to graduate as planned in 2020, despite not being able to attend an on campus graduation ceremony.

Following the conferral of your degree in absentia, your certificate and transcript will be available to view online. The University should also be sending physical copies in the post - you should be contacted about this, please see the University’s FAQs for more detail.

The Guild are currently working closely with the University on plans for a virtual Graduation celebration this summer. We all need something to look forward to at the moment, so we will be pleased to reveal further details as soon as they're available.

The University will continue to monitor the advice from the Government and health officials closely. At present they’re continuing to work towards delivering the December Graduation Ceremonies. However, this is subject to further advice, see the University’s FAQs page for any further updates.

Yes, the University should be in contact once more information becomes avaiable.

Tickets and Refunds:

If you purchased a ticket through the Guild website for an event (e.g. Guild Awards and Fab N Fresh) the Guild will automatically be issuing refunds to the card you purchased the ticket with. While you won’t need to do anything, it might take us until the end of April to process these in full so please be patient.

If you purchased your tickets from Joe’s Bar or the VodShop (Fab N Fresh tickets), you will have been issued with a physical paper ticket. Whilst we will honour your refund for this purchase, at this time we do not have the ability to issue refunds for physical tickets without access to the Guild building. We are currently working on a solution for this, but it may take some time.

We ask that you retain your physical ticket as we will treat this as proof of purchase. Without the physical ticket we will unfortunately not be able to issue a refund.

If you purchased a ticket for a society or student group event or activity you are asked to contact them directly in the first instance. A list of contact details can be found here.

For the small number of customers who have purchased tickets via bank transfer (Sports Ball), we will be contacting you directly to arrange your refund.

If you have any questions or queries relating to tickets or refunds please contact communications@guild.bham.ac.uk.

Events & Activities:

Today the University announced their decision to postpone summer graduation ceremonies until March 2021 in light of restrictions concerning Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Graduation Ceremony is a significant rite of passage and we’re hugely disappointed for all students this will have affected.

The length of delay will allow for the world to reach the other side of this pandemic, with travel restrictions likely lifted by March 2021 to ensure students living around the world are able to attend graduations in person.

The University are in the process of organising a virtual graduation celebration in July to honour graduating students’ achievements. Your Officer Team will be working closely with the University to bring this online celebration to life and will bring further details as they emerge.

Following the University’s announcement concerning graduation ceremonies being moved to May 2021, we would like to provide an update on GradBall. It comes as little surprise, but nonetheless gives us no great pleasure to confirm that GradBall 2020 will no longer be taking place as planned this June.

While closely monitoring the Government’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) with ever increasing restrictions around social gatherings, we have been exploring ways to plan a postponed, or adapted GradBall celebration, in the hope that the situation in the UK would have calmed enough to make such events possible.

However, as the situation has developed, our plans to deliver any kind of GradBall event this summer have become less and less likely. We feel it is right to tell you now that this will not be possible.

As with graduation ceremonies, GradBall plays a significant role in marking the end of your time at University of Birmingham and we’re really sad that we aren’t able to celebrate with you as usual this summer. We are currently looking at ways to make this celebration possible. When we know what form this will take, and when it might happen, we will be in touch to let you know.

Along with other events and celebrations, we are also having to cancel our usual plans for for Sports Ball this year. Up until all sporting activity prematurely came to an end in March it had been another incredible year of sport at Birmingham. Your Sports Officer, Josh Dooler, is currently looking at ways to celebrate the year with you digitally and further details will be released in due course.

Ticket holders will be contacted separately to arrange any refunds due.

As all Guild activity has been cancelled, we’d ask that you postpone your event and communicate this to your members, potential attendees and also inform the Student Groups department at: studentgroups@guild.bham.ac.uk
We’ll be continuously reviewing the situation by working closely with the University and responding to Government updates - to make decisions regarding Term 3 events. We’ll publish any updates or guidance about Term 3 events on this page and via our social media channels.

Guild FAQs:

Student staff will be paid for their agreed shifts up until the last day of term (Friday 28th March), updates around Term 3 will be published in due course.
Joe’s Bar is now closed and will not be re-opening until further notice.

University FAQs:

Travel from your term time address to your home address is now considered ‘non-essential’. The Government is advising students living in halls or private rented accommodation, not to attempt to go home but remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in place.

The University are continuing to increase access to online delivery of teaching and learning. From Monday 23rd March, there will be no face-to-face teaching activity, with any remaining taught content and materials for this term to be delivered through Canvas and other online platforms and channels.

This is an ever evolving situation, so you can view the latest updates regarding the teaching situation here and via the University’s FAQs and Coronavirus statement.

The University has now developed a framework for the summer ‘exam’ assessment period to be delivered online. This online assessment period will operate during the original summer exam period in May/June. The exam timetable will be released by 3rd April 2020.

Please see the University’s FAQs page for more information.

If your learning has been disrupted by Coronavirus, you should follow your school’s normal processes and deadlines for requesting extensions, deferrals or submitting extenuating circumstances.
You can also email Guild Advice, for any further support and guidance by emailing.
We appreciate that you may not be able to provide evidence that you have been advised to self-isolate (for example, if NHS 111 have provided you with advice over the phone). Please do not worry about this - you can still apply without evidence, as long as you explain clearly why you have been advised to self-isolate.
As this is an ever evolving situation, we unfortunately don’t currently have any information on how this will affect tuition or accommodation fees. We will be posting any updates here, so stay tuned for further information.
If you are struggling financially we’d advise that you contact Guild Advice and you can also apply for the Student Support (Hardship) Fund.
We’d advise that you speak to your International Officer who should be able to help, or point you in the right direction.

What is the University’s No Detriment Approach?
The No Detriment Approach is summarised in an email from Kathy Armour. It aims to allow final year students to graduate with a safety net that minimises the impact of COVID-19 on their final grades whilst ensuring that students have met the learning outcomes of their courses.

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

Who decided this?
This has been put together by the University’s leadership team with input from Guild representatives.

Who does this affect?
Final Year Undergraduates and Postgraduate Taught Students.

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

I’m not happy with the No Detriment Approach - what can I do?
Please complete our feedback form, so we can pass your feedback onto the University:

When will I find out more about my specific circumstances?
You’ll receive an email from your Programme team outlining your specific individual circumstances by 8th April.

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

Should I carry on with the work I’m doing right now?
Yes, you should. The University advise that: “you should continue working to complete outstanding coursework assessments, and/or dissertation/project for individual modules and refer to the most recent local information from your programmes about deadlines and any extensions or alternative arrangements.”

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

How are the 80 credits chosen?
80 credits, made up of your dissertation / final project and the best other credits will make up your grade for final year.

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

Does my dissertation / final project need to be counted? Why - this seems unfair?
Yes. The University have said: “We have determined that in order to meet your Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs) and to assure the academic integrity of our degrees, your marks for your dissertation/project must be used to calculate your degree classification and overall mean mark.”

We know this might be stressful, however the University have judged that the dissertation / final project is a core part of your learning outcomes and must be completed to allow you to graduate. This is why they are asking you to complete fewer other assignments.

If you need help, contact your Dissertation Tutor.

What are ‘learning outcomes’ and how do I know if I’ve met them?
Learning outcomes are the things that all graduates of a course are supposed to know. You can usually find them in your course handbook.Your School will be in touch directly to let you know whether you have met them and your next steps.

What will the online assessments look like? Will they take into account that things are difficult at the moment?
The University has committed to ensuring all of the online assessments will be inclusive and will take into account the stressful situation we are in. This means they won’t be traditional exams, but online open book sessions or short tests, and should be easier to complete. You’ll also have longer to complete these (up to 48 hours), to take into account WiFi speeds and time zones.

I haven’t completed 80 credits yet - I think the “no detriment approach” is unfair.
This is why we’ve asked the University to allow you to complete more assignments if you wish, to allow your best 80 credits to be selected. This will depend on the approach your School or Department takes though.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the online assignments you will asked to complete will reflect the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in. They may be open book or have additional time to allow you to complete these more easily.

Please complete our feedback form, so we can pass your feedback onto the University:

I’ve already completed more than 80 credits - it seems unfair that work I’ve already completed is going to just be thrown away. Why is this the case?
If you’ve completed more than 80 credits, that puts you in a good position - only your best 80 credits (including your dissertation / final year project) will be counted, so your average could go up. The University will count this automatically for you, so you don’t need to worry about working this out.

There are some examples of how this could be calculated on the University’s FAQ page.

If we haven’t got 80 credits yet, can we choose which assignments to complete at home?
You will receive a personal email next week outlining what your School or Department will expect you to submit - you should continue working as normal at the moment, until you hear from them.

I’ve already got 80 credits with my dissertation / project plus my other assignments - can I stop working on everything else?
No, you should wait until you hear from your School (by 8th April) and keep working as normal at this point. You may need to complete an assignment to meet your learning objectives or you might be offered the opportunity to complete more work to boost your average.

If I have already met the 80 credit requirement, would it be possible to opt to do extra assessment anyway and then from that my best 80 credits are taken?
Yes, we believe this may be possible - though it will depend on decisions made by your School. You should hear specific details from them soon, but this is something that we have asked the University to allow wherever possible!

Why can we not find out details about exams and coursework now?
The University is currently trying to work out the specific details to ensure 10,000+ students are able to graduate this year. Schools are also working to understand how to write and deliver inclusive online assessments. This is a really big piece of work and it is a stressful time for everyone - and it’s important that it’s done correctly. They are aiming to get individual information to people as soon as possible. You’ll get a personL email next week about what you will be expected to do.

Will our transcripts show all of the modules I studied?
Transcripts will include all modules

What if I cannot do an online assessment?
For a small number of students, it may not be possible to complete an online assessment due to the current circumstances. Your programme team will work with you to identify reasonable alternatives so that you can meet the required number of credits. You can find out more here:

Please visit the intranet to find out more.

Do you think the university's new assessment policy is ideal? Students who were relying on their final exams to increase their average are now relying on only one or a few assessments which will take place in very difficult circumstances.
No - it’s not ideal, but these are also really difficult and stressful times and the university is working quickly to try and come up with solutions for 10,000+ students. For a lot of people, this will improve their overall grades. The online assessments will also be more inclusive than a full programme of exams. However, this is a difficult situation and no solution was ever going to be ideal.

Please complete our feedback form, so we can pass your feedback onto the University:

Don’t you think it’s unfair that some students are allowed to pick 80 credits of their best work whilst some have to make up this 80 credits with assignments completed during a pandemic?
This is a really difficult situation that’s never happened before, and it is always going to be difficult to find a one size fits all solution. We have asked the university to allow students to complete extra assessments to boost their average, if they wish to do so.

Will we be able to graduate in time to move on to jobs/postgrad programmes in september?
The University’s aim is for graduation to happen in a comparable time frame to normal. It’s worth noting that this is a global issue so if you’re looking at graduate schemes or postgraduate degrees, that this is a problem every graduate will be facing so it is likely that the places you are applying to will be accommodating.

I have difficult personal circumstances - where do I go for help?
Talk to your Wellbeing Officer or Guild Advice in the first instance. The University’s Hardship Fund can support you with financial difficulties.

Why is Birmingham's no detriment approach different to that of other universities?
Every University’s no detriment policy is different and tries to balance protecting students’ wellbeing, their grades and ensuring high academic standards. How they strike that balance is different. Some have gone as far as requiring students to continue to hand in much more work than the system that is being adopted here. If you’re unhappy with how UoB have chosen to do this please fill in the feedback form so we can take this to the University. You can also lodge a complaint through our advice team.

Do integrated masters ‘third years’ count as in their final year for this policy?
No, this policy only applies to students who would be graduating this year.

I want to complain about this.
If you wish to complain you need to lodge an official complaint against the University. The details of that are here. The Guild’s Advice team are here to help if you have any questions about this process or want support putting together your case please email them for more information.

Student Reps and Postgraduate Research (PGR) Reps are current Birmingham students and researchers, who work to collect your feedback and to represent your academic interests to the University at dedicated meetings. These meetings are still taking place online this term so if you have any feedback on your course or programme, you can pass it on to your Rep.

Accommodation and Living in the Community:

We can confirm that accommodation sites are remaining open.
Students with symptoms should:

- Self-isolate for 7 days where they are and NOT go home during the isolation period.
- They should discuss this with the management of their halls.
- Only return home once the isolation period is over and if they can do so without using public transport.
- Once they return home, the whole household should begin a 14 day isolation period.
- Students should get in contact with their halls manager when they return home.

If you live with someone who is showing symptoms, the advice is to self-isolate for 14 days.
No, the Government has advised that students remaining in University or private rented accommodation should stay where they are and not attempt to travel home while current restrictions are in place.
Your hall and building managers should be assigning procedures for staff to ensure self-isolating students can receive food and medicine during isolation (especially disabled students). So we would advise that you get in touch with your Hall Managers.
Your Student Mentors will be offering online support from 10am – 4pm on weekdays. You can contact them via email, Facebook, Instagram or Skype (add Student Mentors).

How can they help?

  • Mentors offer friendly conversation if you’re feeling lonely, isolated or just need a chat.
  • They provide wellbeing guidance on staying happy and healthy during this disruptive time.
  • They’ll signpost and advise on financial, academic, housing, shared living and other issues.

University Accommodation

The University have announced that, if you leave your University accommodation before 11th April and don't wish to return to your accommodation in term 3, you will be released from your contract. If you don't wish to return, you will need to register your Early Release Request with Living by Friday 3rd April - you can do this on the Accommodation Portal.

Partnered Accommodation

Liberty and Unite have also confirmed this, the only partner accommodation that hasn’t is Host. Host have stated that this is something they’re continuing to look into, but Millie, Joshua and the University are in talks with them to release students from their contracts. We will continue to keep you updated on this.

If you’ve left belongings in your room, it won’t affect the release from your Accommodation contract. On 23rd March the Government put travel restrictions in place, while these restrictions continue, you will not be required to remove your belongings from your room. When the Government restrictions are lifted Living will be in contact regarding the date by which you will need to have removed your belongings.

If you’re unable to return to collect your things, please contact Living to discuss how they can help.

Should these restrictions continue beyond your contract end date and you want to continue living in accommodation beyond the end of your current contractual agreement, please contact the Living email to discuss your specific circumstances.

The University is working closely with the catering team to ensure that a limited food service continues to be provided for those who remain on campus. Please be aware that due to the circumstances, any unspent fund on this year’s meal plan will roll over to the next academic year.

International Students:

If you’re in the UK but your Visa expires between 24th January - 31st May 2020 and you can’t return home due to travel restrictions, your Visa can be extended. To apply for an extension you will need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to update your records.

View full information on applying for a visa extension on the Government’s Coronavirus webpage.

If you have immigration queries related to Coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre at CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Please note, your email must be in English.

You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre, at: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). However if you’ve already emailed the help centre, please do not contact them by phone.

If you need any support with visa applications, extensions, travel advice, accommodation advice or more, you can visit UKCISA.

On 24th March the Home Office stated that whilst Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses, owing to exceptional circumstances this will now be accepted.

The Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or those who have returned overseas but are continuing their studies. Therefore, Sponsors do not need to withdraw their sponsorship in these circumstances. These arrangements apply until 31st May, at which point they will be reviewed.

View the Home Office’s full statement.

If you have any concerns about your visa or want to apply for a new one, please contact the International Student Team (IST).

Guild Advice can offer international support via email, so please feel free to get in contact.

You can also email your International Officer Joanne Park.

Coronavirus FAQs:

Symptoms of Coronavirus include:
  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • high temperature
  • a continuous cough.
For more information about symptoms please visit the NHS webpages.
If you are displaying a cough or fever, the advice is to self-isolate for 7 days. If you live with someone who has developed these symptoms, you must all self-isolate for 14 days.
The Government have specified that you are only allowed to leave your home for the following very specific purposes:
  • Shopping for basic necesities (food), as infrequently as possible
  • You can go out for one form of exercise a day, I.e. a run, walk or cycle. You can do this alone or with a housemate
  • Any medical need or to provide care for a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where absolutely essential and work cannot be done from home.
The University are continuing to increase access to online delivery of teaching and learning. From Monday 23rd March, there will be no face-to-face teaching activity, with any remaining taught content and materials for this term to be delivered through Canvas and other online platforms and channels. So you should still be able to continue with your studies without having to leave your home.
The University are continuing to increase access to online delivery of teaching and learning. From Monday 23rd March, there will be no face-to-face teaching activity, with any remaining taught content and materials for this term to be delivered through Canvas and other online platforms and channels. So you should still be able to continue with your studies without having to leave your home.
If you or anyone in your household has a cough or a fever, stay at home and let the University know immediately by filling out the Exceptional Leave Notification form.
As of 18th March the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an exceptional travel advisory notice confirming that the FCO advise British nationals “against all but essential international travel”. This restriction takes place immediately and will remain in place for the next 30 days.
The above advice does not affect EU and other international students who are still able to return to your home countries. This is subject to local travel restrictions and you should check the situation at your destination before travelling.

As the Prime Minister said, remaining indoors is a crucial measure to slow the rate of transmission of Coronavirus, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and save the lives of fellow citizens.

View the Government’s advice on staying home and social distancing.

Useful resources and information

It continues to be the University’s policy to follow Public Health England’s advice about COVID-19, along with guidance from the NHS and the Foreign Commonwealth Office in the UK. As previously outlined, the Guild will take its lead from the University and follow its policy where possible.

International students

If you’re an international student on a Tier 4 visa and need to request Authorised Absence, you can view the process here.

You can also view our International Students FAQs section for further information.

Accommodation and Housing

From keeping your belongings safe, to looking after your wellbeing to keeping yourself entertained during isolation, your Student Mentor and Community Wardens teams have put together some tips and advice to help you out during these strange times.

  Keeping Your House and Belongings Safe
  Keeping Your House Clean and Tidy
  Looking after yourself during the Coronavirus outbreak
  Supporting the local community

Remember, if you are feeling worried, need some academic / wellbeing advice or just wanted to talk, the Mentors are also available to support you Monday to Friday, from 10am – 4pm. All you have to do is email them.

If you’re living in Selly Oak or the wider community, you can also email Community Wardens.

Updates / Latest Information

Latest Guild News Articles

Please keep checking University and Guild websites and social media channels for the latest updates. If you have any questions, queries or concerns please contact us at communiations@guild.bham.ac.uk.

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