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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 what you can expect for the start of term and coming to Reading in September 2020.

Teaching and learning

Travelling and quarantine

Halls of residence

Campus facilities

Student support

Student loans

I have an offer to study at Reading in September 2020 and I am intending to study on-campus. How will classes be taught and what can I expect teaching to look like?

We are working hard to adapt our campus facilities to provide a safe, supportive and vibrant experience to support your learning from the start of the autumn term. Our fantastic campus community is something we are very proud of, and one of the reasons so many of our students and colleagues choose to study and work at Reading. As such, being on campus to engage in face-to-face teaching and other activities will offer you the best opportunity to develop, academically and personally, and make the most of your university experience.

Our priority is to provide you with a flexible, supportive and high-quality teaching and learning experience alongside protecting the health and wellbeing of the whole university community. To achieve this, we have put some measures in place.

  1. Make all lecture and core course content available online.
    Content that would typically be delivered through lectures will now be provided digitally. This reduces the health risks of large group gatherings and enables us to use larger teaching rooms for interactive sessions with smaller groups. It also means that you can view the materials in your own time, wherever you are in the world and around any other commitments you may have.
  2. Provide regular interactive sessions on campus and online.
    Alongside your core course content online, you will have timetabled interactive sessions, like seminars and workshops, appropriate to your course. In many cases these sessions will be face-to-face on campus, complemented by online interactive activities for those who initially need to study remotely. As normal, engaging in these interactive activities will help you to develop and apply your understanding of the topic with your lecturer and classmates. In most cases, these sessions will be face-to-face and take place on campus. There will be suitable social distancing and other safety measures in place, to align with government restrictions and guidance and our commitment to protect the health and safety of our community. If you cannot get to campus, there will be online activities which you can engage with remotely.
  3. Provide academic support.
    We will provide you with academic support through contact hours with your lecturers and via our Academic Tutor system. Whether you study remotely or on campus you will still have access to our specialist welfare and support services, which you can find out more about below.
  4. Amend assessments to encourage more interactivity.
    To increase the number of opportunities for face-to-face and online interaction, we will review and adjust assessment, where possible and where appropriate to your subject. Our assessments will also encourage interactivity where possible to allow you to work collaboratively with your classmates and tutors while you are studying remotely.

Our specialist welfare support services (including Careers, Financial Support, Disability Advisory Service, International Visa and Immigration Advice, Study Advice, and many more) will continue to offer face-to-face help and advice with appropriate social distancing measures, and we will continue to make these services available virtually for those who need them. We are also developing plans to ensure all students can continue to safely access our library and study resources.

There are a small number of programmes for which it will be very difficult for students to meet their learning outcomes without being on campus at, or close to, the start of the autumn term. A list of these programmes can be found on our Teaching and Learning in 2020/21 page. Students affected directly by these programme changes have been emailed with further information.

You can find out more about how teaching and learning will be delivered, as well as the support services in place, on our pages for current students.

I have an offer to study at Reading in September 2020 but I am unable to study on campus. How will classes be taught and what can I expect teaching to look like?

Our Reading campuses will be open and we are expecting to welcome you to campus in September, wherever possible. If you are unable to come to Reading in time for the start of term (for example, due to travel restrictions or continued guidance to isolate for health reasons), our flexible blended approach will enable you to start term remotely and continue to work towards your programme learning outcomes until you are in a position to come to campus.

In making your decision to undertake your studies with us, our expectation is that you would join us on campus outside of health or travel restrictions, wherever possible. If you are unable to be on campus at the start of the autumn term, you should plan to return as soon as possible, by January at the latest.

We are not transitioning to distance-learning degrees or online only degrees, and so your decision needs to consider whether you are in a position to undertake on campus study outside of particular exceptional circumstances. Attending sessions in person on campus will best enable you to develop and apply your knowledge and understanding, to continue to work towards your academic goals as planned, and to continue to build relationships with members of academic staff, your classmates and other peers. You will also be able to benefit from our unique campus environment, including our wide range of services and facilities.

However, for those who are unable to join us on campus straight away due to health or travel restrictions, we will support you to maintain a strong connection to the University and to your course community. In the past few months, we have seen some excellent examples of students and staff using digital technology to stay connected with one another, and we will be actively building on this for the autumn term. Please rest assured that our high-quality digital course content and complementary activities will be available for you to access in your own time. We will also ensure you have opportunities to take part in interactive, group-focused sessions with your tutors and classmates and have the flexibility to plan your time accordingly. Our assessments will encourage interactivity where possible to allow you to work collaboratively with your classmates and tutors while you are studying remotely.

We are committed to putting in place measures to protect your health and wellbeing, alongside providing an excellent learning experience. We will keep our plans under constant review and let you know as soon as possible if the situation changes.

Can I study online all year?

We are not transitioning to distance-learning degrees or online only degrees.

We are working hard to adapt our campus facilities to provide a safe, supportive and vibrant experience to support your learning from the start of the autumn term. Our fantastic campus community is something we are very proud of, and one of the reasons so many of our students and colleagues choose to study and work at Reading. As such, being on campus to engage in face-to-face teaching and other activities will offer you the best opportunity to develop, academically and personally, and make the most of your university experience.

While we are making arrangements to support students who need to study remotely initially at the start of the autumn term, we expect all students to return to campus as soon as they are able to.

Subject to government advice at the time, we are currently planning to expand the number of teaching sessions that take place on campus from January 2021. Therefore, it is our hope that we will not need to continue interactive sessions online in the spring term, although content that would usually be delivered through larger classes may still need to be provided digitally. That is why, if you are unable to be on campus at the start of the autumn term, you should plan to return as soon as possible, by January at the latest.

We also anticipate that exams will take place in-person on campus in summer 2021.

What is planned for students who can't travel to Reading in September due to restrictions?

If you are unable to travel to Reading in September (for example, due to travel restrictions or continued guidance to isolate for health reasons), we understand that the possibility of studying at a distance may be disappointing. Whether on campus or remotely, we will support you to build and maintain strong connections across the University and particularly with your course community.Our flexible blended approach will, in most cases, enable you to start the new academic year remotely until you can come back to campus.

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

If you are travelling to the UK from overseas, you should read the latest UK government advice about one of the countries with an exemptions.This list may be changed by the government at short notice so please regularly check these links for the latest advice.

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. You must self-isolate for 14 days when you arrive in the UK, unless you have travelled from one of the countries with exemptions. This list may be changed by the government at short notice so please regularly check these links for the latest advice.

Other members of your household who do not need to self-isolate will be asked to take particular care to socially distance from anyone who is not living in your house/flat, which includes not going into other flats and not allowing visitors into yours, for the same 14 day period.

When you have completed 14 days of self-isolation, this will mean you have formed your 'household' with the others you live with.

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.

You do not need to arrive any earlier than usual to complete your self-isolation period. 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 are also developing a short online induction course, which can be completed alongside your academic studies while you are self-isolating.

What are the plans for students in halls of residence in September?

It is our intention for halls of residence to open in September, subject to any government restrictions, and we look forward to welcoming halls residents as planned at the start date of their contracts in September. We are working closely with our halls providers, UPP and Unite Students, to put the necessary social distancing and cleaning arrangements in place. We will monitor the government's developing advice and will be prepared to make additional arrangements as required, including facilitating quarantine if needed.

Should I still apply 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. It is our intention for accommodation application process to help you apply.

We are working closely with our halls providers, UPP and Unite Students, to put the necessary social distancing and cleaning arrangements in place. We will monitor the government's developing advice and will be prepared to make additional arrangements as required, including facilitating quarantine if needed.

If you are unsure about whether on-campus or off-campus accommodation is right for you the 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 security deposit. However, given the current situation and financial uncertainty facing many of our students, this year from June 2020, we will defer the security deposit payment of £250 that would usually be required when you accept your halls accommodation contract. Instead, for those students who have not already paid their deposit, it will be charged with your first rent instalment.

Please remember that when you accept and sign an accommodation contract, the terms are legal obligations. This means, in most cases, you are liable to pay the security deposit and rent instalments even if you change your mind later.

What specific social distancing arrangements will you be putting in place in halls?

To help you settle in safely and quickly, we will be creating 'households' within our halls of residence.

For the first 14 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. You are welcome to meet others outside, so long as you follow the appropriate government guidelines.

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.

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 will you be putting in place in halls?

Your room will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before your arrival. 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 hand rails 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 between cleaning by our staff, you will be provided with cleaning products that you can use proactively to keep your living environment hygienic and safe.

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. This means, in most cases, you are liable to pay the security deposit with your first rent instalment and all subsequent rent instalments until another student moves into the room.

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 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.

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 autumn term due to circumstances beyond your control arising from the Covid, 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 September 2020, 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 on RISIS portal 1 September and must be submitted by 15 September 2020. To complete the form you should log on with your application number (included on your offer letter and your password, which is your date of birth in DDMMYYYY format. 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. Complete information on the notification process, the Accommodation Fee Waiver Form and the eligibility criteria can be found on our Student Essentials Accommodation page under the question "What happens if I can't arrive at halls before my contract begins?"

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 temporary accommodation fee waiver could be considered due to delayed arrival to your halls room:

  • Government advice in your home country or the UK that you are advised not to travel (evidence: upload screenshot including date from government website)
  • Delay in meeting offer conditions, e.g. delayed exam/IELTS results due to the impacts of COVID-19  (evidence required: upload screenshot including date from institution communication or website)
  • Delay in visa processing due to the impacts of COVID-19 (evidence: upload screenshot including date from consulate which states appointment date)
  • COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed diagnosis of the virus (evidence: upload screenshot including date with your doctor's confirmation)
  • 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

What will be open on campus in the autumn term?

We are currently making arrangements to adapt our campus facilities to do everything possible to create a safe environment for you to study, live and socialise in. Subject to any changes in government guidance, we anticipate that:

  • All our Reading campuses (Whiteknights and London Road) will be open, for you to meet and socialise with friends in open spaces.
  • Our Support Centres and wider network of support services will be available to provide advice face-to-face.
  • Halls of residence will be open.
  • The Library will be open.
  • Many of our catering outlets will be open offering a great range of meals, snacks and drinks as well as our Clever Cuisine Eating Plans.
  • Our SportsPark will be open, offering a range of activities and exercise opportunities.

Appropriate social distancing measures will be applied to all of the facilities and services highlighted to protect your health and safety. We will constantly review our services and facilities as the year progresses, informed by government advice, to ensure you receive the best education and university experience possible.

Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) are also working to offer as full a range of events and activities as possible from September, in line with social distancing requirements, and they will share more details closer to the start of term. They will continue to provide as many support services as possible on campus and online, deliver a range of virtual events, and work with student activity groups to enhance your student experience.

Will the Library be open in September and what online resources will be available?

We are currently developing plans to ensure all students can continue to safely access our Library and study resources.

Will I still be able to try out for sports teams and will communal sport be possible?

At this moment in time, we are currently developing different scenarios for how student activities might take place. Student safety and following government guidelines are our priorities, and currently BUCS (who are the National Governing Body of university sport) are not allowing any fixtures to be organised. If we had no choice but to delay the start of match play and training to spring term, we would certainly look into finding a way this could be achieved so students could still participate in sport. In the meantime, you can check out what sports we offer. Equally, most sports teams have social media pages which you can join. During this period, some clubs have been completing virtual challenges such as the Reading University Boat Club's 'Around the world in 80 days' challenge.

Will Welcome Week and Freshers' Week go ahead?

We're working together with the Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) to develop a varied programme of welcome activities over intake period from Tuesday 15 September and during Welcome Week itself from Monday 21 September. This will include events on campus, taking into consideration ongoing government social distancing restrictions, alongside interactive online sessions, to help you transition smoothly to life at university and quickly get to know your fellow students and members of staff. You can find out more by visiting our Welcome website.

We are aware of a number of unofficial events being advertised online, but these are not affiliated or endorsed by us. We recommend that you should only buy tickets for official events advertised on RUSU's website and not through third-party sites. Please do bear in mind that given the ongoing government social distancing restrictions, many of these unofficial advertised events may not be able to go ahead.

How will I be supported?

Our specialist welfare support services (including Careers, Financial Support, Disability Advisory Service, International Visa and Immigration Advice, Study Advice, and many more) will continue to offer face-to-face help and advice with appropriate social distancing measures, and we will continue to make these services available virtually for those who need them. We are also developing plans to ensure all students can continue to safely access our library and study resources.

If I need to study remotely initially, will there be any impact on my maintenance loan payments from the Student Loans Company?

At present, the Student Loans Company have indicated that if you are living with parents or at home at the start of term, your eligibility for a maintenance loan would be reduced.

Students studying outside of London and living away from home (in halls or private accommodation) are entitled to up to £9,203 annual maintenance loan for 2020/21. For those living with parents or at home, the maximum maintenance loan available is £7,747.

You must be honest with the Student Loans Company about your living arrangements and keep them updated with any changes.

If you have any queries, or you're not sure about your living arrangements this autumn, please contact our Student Financial Support Team or RUSU for advice about your specific circumstances.

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