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Study and Life at Reading – University of Reading

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Study and Life at Reading

These questions cover information about study and day-to-day life at the University of Reading and what measures we have put in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff in light of COVID 19.

How are you delivering teaching during the current pandemic?

In line with government direction, teaching provision for the majority of our programmes will be online only until at least 8 March 2021.

The government has confirmed face-to-face teaching can continue where necessary for specified subjects including: Education - Initial Teacher Training, Physician Associates, Pharmacy, and Speech & Language Therapy. This means that for students on these programmes no changes are being made from your current teaching provision.

For programmes with placement, practical or studio activities that cannot easily be replicated online, we will prioritise some appropriate face-to-face provision of these activities for students on these programmes, as soon as possible after 8 March 2021, if the government permits it and it is safe for us to do so. Schools will write to students on these programmes by early next week.

For all other students, the University has made the decision that all remaining scheduled teaching sessions will continue to be delivered online only for the rest of the spring term. This will also help reduce the risk for our community, by minimising the number of people on campus and the number of students needing to return to Reading.

Our dedicated range of specialist support teams continue to offer help and advice, for students on campus and those studying remotely. All students are allocated an Academic Tutor to support their academic, personal and professional development. Students are encouraged to keep in touch with their tutor regularly and can speak to them if they have any queries or concerns throughout their studies.

Will I have to quarantine when I travel to the UK from overseas?

Yes. For anyone allowed to enter the UK from overseas, you will have to quarantine. From 15 February the UK government has banned travellers from entering the UK if they are from one of the countries on the 'red list'.

This ban does not include travellers who are British or Irish nationals or have the right to live in the UK; they can still enter the UK but must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days. The test to release scheme cannot be used to reduce the quarantine period for people arriving from one of the countries on the red list.

If you are arriving from a country not on the red list, you will have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

Further information and a list of quarantine approved hotels can be found on the UK government's COVID pages.

Is it possible to reduce my quarantine period by taking a COVID-19 test?

The government announced a new 'Test to release' scheme from 15 December. This means that people arriving into the UK from countries not on the travel ban list will be able to pay privately for a COVID-19 test to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate. This is optional and travellers may still choose to self-isolate for the full period rather than pay for a test. If you wish to opt in, you can do this when you complete the Passenger Locator Form prior to travelling to the UK.

Further information on the test to release scheme is available on the UK government's COVID webpages.

What changes have you made to your campus and facilities to respond to the current pandemic?

We have worked hard to adapt our campus facilities to do everything possible to create a safe environment for our students to study, live and socialise in.

Our Reading campuses (Whiteknights and London Road) are open, along with our Halls of Residence, Support Centres, wider network of specialist support services and Library. Our catering outlets are open, although they have temporarily switched to offering a 'take away' service during the current 'lockdown' in England. Our SportsPark has also closed temporarily, although we intend to reopen once the government confirms this is permitted.

Appropriate social distancing measures have been applied to all of the facilities and services highlighted to protect the health and safety of our whole community. We are keeping our services and facilities under review as the year progresses, informed by government advice, to ensure our students receive the best education and university experience possible.

Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) are continuing to provide their support services online, deliver a range of virtual events, and work with student activity groups to enhance our students' experience.

Is the Library currently open for students?

Our Library and study space remain open, subject to any changes in government advice, with slightly reduced hours. We are also continuing to offer our Click & Collect service.

What services and facilities are currently open for students?

With the new national lockdown, the Library will remain open for study space and Click & Collect during the following hours:

  • Monday to Thursday: 08:30-19:00
  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 08:30-17:00.

In addition to bookable space in the Library, RUSU's The Study is open for non-bookable study space and is accessible 24/7 by Campus Card. Given the reduced numbers on campus, Study@URS is currently closed, although we will monitor study space demand and keep this under review.

Our PC Labs in the Palmer and Agriculture buildings are also open 24/7. They are accessible with your Campus Card and do not need to be booked.

Our special collections will be available for scan on demand. The MERL Reading Room and museums will be closed.

Student Services

The Student Services Reception in the Carrington Building remains open if needed for drop-in queries.

Our full range of specialist advice and support services are available remotely, including your Support Centres and the Henley Helpdesk, the ISLI Administration team and the Graduate School. You will also continue to have access to all our online Library resources and remote support from our Study Advice team.

Catering

The following catering services are currently open on campus for takeaway service:

  • The Library cafe (09:00-16:00, Monday to Friday)
  • Park Eat (08:00-22:00, seven days a week)
  • The Dairy (08:00-16:00, Monday to Friday)
  • Wantage and St Patrick's Hall - for residents only (08:00-22:00, seven days a week)
  • The Marketplace at Park Eat - for buying food and other household essentials (08:00-22:00, seven days a week).

SportsPark

The SportsPark will remain closed. Under the current lockdown, all outdoor group exercise, including the sports fields and grass pitches, is prohibited. You can exercise outside on your own, with members of your household, or one other person from outside your household, including on our campus.

Halls of residence

Our Halls are open for students who need to be here and students will have access to their rooms and our Halls Welfare Team.

What support services are available for students during the pandemic?

All students are allocated an Academic Tutor to support their academic, personal and professional development. Students are encouraged to get in touch with their tutor regularly and can speak to them if they have any queries or concerns throughout your studies.

Our specialist welfare support services (including Careers, Financial Support, Disability Advisory Service, International Visa and Immigration Advice, Study Advice, and many more) continue to offer support and advice. These services are available online and, in many cases, by appointment face-to-face on campus.

How do I find out more about applying for University accommodation?

Making sure you have somewhere to live is an essential element of preparing to study at Reading and it is important that you make the necessary arrangements. Applications for accommodation are open to offer holders who have selected Reading as their firm choice. More information about accommodation can be found on accommodationonline@reading.ac.uk.

Will you support students to quarantine in halls if arriving from overseas?

If you are travelling to the UK from overseas, you should read the latest UK government advice about what to expect when you arrive.

From 18 January, all travellers must also provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. For further information, please see the FCDO website.

The UK government requires everyone who is entering the country to self-isolate (also known as being 'in quarantine') for 10 days. Even though you have provided a negative test for entering the country, you must follow the rules for self-isolating when you arrive in England.

On request we will assist students in facilitating their quarantine with practical measures to enable them to safely move into their halls accommodation at Reading. These items would allow a student to arrive at their residence and to be able to enter quarantine immediately without the need to visit shops (which is prohibited) or receive deliveries.

Our flexible, blended approach to teaching will, in most cases, enable you to start or continue your studies remotely until you can attend face-to-face sessions on campus after your period of self-isolation. Completing your self-isolation in this way will enable you to form your 'household' with your flatmates in the shortest time possible.

If you are living in private accommodation, you should consider bringing essential items such as soap or hand sanitiser with you and arranging an online supermarket delivery of food and cleaning materials for shortly after you arrive. If you have never used an online supermarket delivery, you may wish to download an app for one or two of the local shops (for example, Asda or Tesco) and set up an account so you can easily place an order.

We have also developed a short online induction course, which can be completed alongside your academic studies while you are self-isolating.

If you are unsure about whether on-campus or off-campus accommodation is right for you our accommodation pages should give you the right information to help you decide.

Do I have to pay a security deposit?

Yes, you are required to pay a £250 security deposit to accept your halls accommodation contract.

What specific social distancing arrangements have you put in place in halls?

To help you settle in safely and quickly, we have created 'households' within our halls of residence.

For the first 10 days following your arrival you are asked to focus on forming your 'household'. This means taking particular care to socially distance from anyone who is not part of your household, which includes not going into other flats and not allowing visitors into yours.

If you are living in a flat or house, this will be your household. For corridor style halls your household will usually be those other residents with whom you are sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities. We will ensure clear signs are in place to show which household you belong to.

You should monitor your health closely and check for the symptoms of COVID-19 each day. If you think you have symptoms you must request a test immediately from the NHS website and let us know using the home at halls app or by contacting the Halls Hotline 0800 029 1984.

These arrangements will be reviewed on a regular basis, to follow government guidance and to protect the health and safety of our whole community.

What cleaning arrangements are in place in halls?

We will provide all routine cleaning services to your flat or area so long as it is safe for our staff to do this. Anti-viral cleaning products are used routinely, and our cleaners are trained to minimise infection spread.

There is an enhanced regime of cleaning all 'touch points' such as door handles, stair handrails and lift controls in communal areas.

All routine cleaning of accommodation also includes the enhanced cleaning of  'touch points' such as light switches, toilet handles and controls on cooking equipment.

In the event of a household need to self-isolate, we will not be able to enter your accommodation to clean, but we will provide you with additional cleaning products to help keep your area hygienic. Waste will be removed on request.

What if I move into halls but decide to move out later in the year?

If you change your mind during the year and wish to move out of your accommodation, you will need to complete our Contract Cancellation Form. Please remember that when you accept and sign an accommodation contract, the terms are legal obligations and you will be liable to pay rent instalments in accordance with your agreement with us.

There will be some exceptions to this, and we recognise that some students may be affected by circumstances beyond their control this year. If you would like to move out of your halls room, please do contact us as soon as possible so we can discuss your options based on your individual situation.

Will I still have to pay rent for halls if services on campus are reduced due to government restrictions?

We will suspend your rent payments if you move out of your halls accommodation if the following situations occur and continue for a period of longer than four consecutive weeks:

  • all face-to-face teaching at the University is suspended and all teaching is moved online;
    or
  • all the facilities on the campus on which your course is taught are closed;
    or
  • you are prevented from accessing or using your halls accommodation because of a measure implemented for the prevention or delay of the spread of coronavirus.

If you are unable to remove your belongings and fully vacate your accommodation in these circumstances (for example, because of a government ban on movement) then we will consider suspending rent payments on a case-by-case basis.

If you leave halls while face-to-face teaching is still taking place and campus facilities remain open, you would be liable to continue paying rent under the terms of your contract. Please see our website for further information.

Please note: We are pleased to confirm that we are offering a temporary Halls fee waiver for students with accommodation contracts for Halls of Residence operated by our partner, UPP. This is for students who are not currently living in their halls room during the national lockdown, from 6 January to the new extended date of 16 April 2021. Further information and details about this can be found on the Essentials webpages. If you have any concerns or queries, please contact the Accommodation Office at accommodationonline@reading.ac.uk.

Please note that Kendrick Hall (operated by our partner Unite Students) has a separate accommodation policy and therefore unfortunately this arrangement will not apply.

What happens if I can't arrive to halls when my contract begins?

If you have signed up for a halls accommodation contract with our partner UPP for the academic year 2020/21 and are delayed in arriving at the University in the spring term due to circumstances beyond your control arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we've set up a process so you can let us know.

If you will be delayed by more than two weeks after the start date of your Accommodation Contract in January 2021, you must let us know by completing our Accommodation Fee Waiver Form. We will then be able to determine if you may be entitled to a temporary halls fee waiver. Please note we will not consider waiving fees for delays within the first 14 days of the start of your contract.

The Accommodation Fee Waiver Form will be available from 1 December. To complete the form you will have to log onto RISIS using your University of Reading username and password. The form is available from the Action page.

If you do not fill in the form, or do not provide evidence, you will not be eligible for an accommodation fee waiver and you will be charged from the start of your contract.

Please note that Kendrick Hall (operated by our partner Unite Students) has a separate accommodation policy and therefore unfortunately this arrangement will not apply.

Accepted criteria and forms of required evidence for late arrival.

The following criteria, along with required evidence, are provided as a guide for circumstances when a rent fee waiver could be considered due to delayed arrival to your halls room.

(a) Government advice in your home country or the UK that you are advised not to travel

  • (evidence: upload screenshot including date from government website including date)

(b) Delay in meeting offer conditions e.g. exam/IELTS results due to the impacts of COVID-19

  • (evidence: upload screenshot including date from institution communication or website)

(c) Delay in visa processing due to the impacts of COVID-19

  • (evidence: upload screenshot including date from consulate which states appointment date)

(d) COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed diagnosis of the virus

  • (evidence: upload screenshot including date with your doctor's confirmation)

(e) Acting as carer

  • (evidence: upload screenshot including date with a letter confirming this status)

If you have any concerns or queries, please contact the Accommodation Office at accommodationonline@reading.ac.uk.

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