Covid-19 student FAQs

This page answers questions in relation to the asymptomatic test site, returning to the University and your studies in 2021.  


When you arrive on campus it is recommended that you complete regular asymptomatic COVID tests (twice a week).  You can also collect a free home testing kit from various locations around campus and the Vale Village, the full list of locations can be found below.  Students who are asymptomatic (without symptoms), who may be infectious but unaware, can pick up a home testing kit, with rapid results, and help protect others on campus.  As always these tests are voluntary, but by completing them you are helping to protect the health of your fellow students and staff at UoB by reducing the potential for transmission of the virus.

In December the UK Government confirmed the details of the new Test to Release scheme for international travellers arriving or returning into England.  Under the scheme people returning to England who need to self-isolate will be able to take a COVID test with a private test provider to see if they can end their self-isolation early. Students will need to make the test arrangements themselves with one of the approved providers and the University will reimburse the cost of the test up to a maximum of £120.00. Further information is available in our update on Test to Release from 18 December and in the FAQs below.

Read the FAQs for:


All the latest guidance will be posted on the news section of the student intranet (which is also shared via the MyUoB app), or check our social media channels (@unibirmingham). We will also email important updates so please keep checking your inboxes.

Returning to campus

What do I do if I am an international student arriving in the UK?

If you are planning to travel to the UK you should consider delaying your arrival if your travel plans can be rearranged without additional costs. If you are arriving/returning to the UK please follow the most up-to-date advice available for international travellers which is available here.

The University is supporting all international students (including EU citizens) with the additional costs of the Test to Release scheme – further information available here. We have also asked that all international students update their study location plans for semester 2 – which you can do here.

When does teaching and learning activity begin on campus in 2021?

Teaching has now finished for the academic year, the new academic year begins in September 2021, information about starting the new academic year will be sent to students. 

What support is available for my mental health and wellbeing?

Support for your wellbeing is always available and we are continuing to provide a range of resources and expert contacts that are accessible wherever you are. Our Wellbeing Services are open from this week in your Schools and Colleges and from our Mental Health and Wellbeing Team

What financial support is available?

We understand the continuing impact of these restrictions on all of our daily lives, and, in particular the added financial difficulties that many of you will be facing. We have therefore established an Enhanced Student Support Fund – which will be available to all students so that targeted financial support can be provided for those in need. In addition to a substantial increase in the hardship funds available we have also made changes to the criteria so that all students who need additional support will be able to access this. Information can be found on the Student Support Fund intranet pages

I am a commuter student - what does this mean for me?

In accordance with government guidance, you should continue to study from home and not access campus facilities – unless you fall into one of the exempt categories. In planning your return to on-campus activities we are recommending that all students should take two rapid LFD tests, three days apart, before using on campus facilities and in advance of any in-person teaching and learning.


Edgbaston campus

What will be open on campus?

As lockdown restrictions have now ended all facilities on campus have now re-opened.

Museums and Galleries

Information on the Barber and Lapworth reopenings can be found on their websites. 

Winterbourne Garden opens to visitors for the 2021 season on Friday 8 January. Open seven days a week from 10.30am to 5.00pm (with last entry at 4.30pm), entry is free for UoB staff and students upon presentation of a valid ID card. The house, shop and tearoom have now reopened, more information can be found on the Winterbourne website

Sport & Fitness

 More information on as membership and booking details can be found on the UB Sport and Fitness website

Cafes and catering

You can see the latest opening hours for catering outlets here

I'm concerned about the infection rate on campus

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff remains our priority and will be at the heart of any decisions we make. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our community, COVID test-positive figures remain low on campus, with no evidence of transmission in teaching settings. For the latest figures visit the Test, Trace and Protect page.

Information about the testing process

Why should I get tested?

Lateral flow testing is designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms (they are asymptomatic), but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others. By taking a test you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people and save lives.

Please do not book to attend if you have symptoms of Covid-19 (a cough, loss of taste or smell, or a high temperature). 

Where can I collect a home testing kit?

 You  can  collect a free home test kit from various locations across campus and the Vale Village.

Can anyone collect a test?

All students are to come onto campus and collect a free home testing kit (please ensure you are not displaying any Covid-19 symptoms) 

How many tests should I have?

In accordance with new Government guidance,we strongly recommend that all students who are on campus take regular asymptomatic tests.

Do I have to have the test?

No. This is entirely voluntary.  We are offering these tests to all students, specifically those without symptoms, because we know some people have COVID-19 without any symptoms at all.  By taking a test you will be helping minimise the potential for virus transmission when returning to campus.

What happens if I don’t take a test?

Students who do not get tested because they choose not to are advised to ensure they do not have any symptoms before coming onto campus. 

What if I have symptoms?

If you have any Coronavirus symptoms you should not visit the Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) If you have any symptoms of coronavirus then you should self-isolate immediately and apply for a test at your nearest testing centre. 

What does the test involve?

The test involves a swab from your nose and throat that you take yourself.  Your swab will then be tested by one of our on-site testing personnel to determine the result.  Staff will be available at the testing site to help and guide you and we are providing an accessible testing booth for anyone who needs additional support. 

Does it hurt?

The test might be a little uncomfortable, but is not painful and is very quick to do.

What is lateral flow testing and how accurate is it?

A lateral flow device (LFD) is a clinically validated swab antigen test that does not require a laboratory for processing and can turnaround rapid results within an hour at the location of the test.

Lateral flow tests (LFT) are validated technology, they are safe and the results are trusted. These tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at Public Health England’s research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use.

Lateral flow tests are highly specific, which means that only a very small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result (false positive). Although they give a result much more quickly, LFT tests are not as sensitive as tests offered through other channels (e.g. PCR tests available in other channels like Local Testing Sites). Sensitivity measures how likely a test will return a positive result when that person is infected. This also means that if you test positive on a LFT test, it is likely that you are infectious at that moment, whereas people testing positive on more sensitive tests could be in the less infectious early or late stages of disease.

However, in mass testing, because so many people without symptoms are being tested there is still the possibility of getting a false positive result. Therefore, everyone who tests positive will need to have a confirmatory test to make sure the result is correct.

What happens if I test positive?

Anyone whose test returns a positive outcome must:

  • Self-isolate immediately, in accordance with Government guidance and do not travel.
  • Follow the advice to arrange a second, confirmatory, PCR test.

You will receive further information on what to do along with your test positive result.

Who will see my results?

A copy of your result will be sent to you and your GP. If you have tested positive, a notification will be sent to Public Health England (in England), Public Health Wales (in Wales), Health Protection Scotland (in Scotland), or the Public Health Agency (in Northern Ireland).

Anyone testing positive for the virus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission. Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus.

The University does not hold any of the test results and we have no access to your personal health data. 

If a close contact tests positive, do I have to self-isolate?

Yes, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days. 

Can I return to campus if I don’t get tested?

Yes, if you are on the list of exemptions further up this page, however you will not know if you have COVID-19 without a test.  

If I test positive what support will the University provide while I am isolating?

You will need to notify us that you have tested positive using our test and trace process

If you are in University or partner accommodation, you can access support if you are self-isolating, including an essentials food parcel. Students in private accommodation can access support from their College through student wellbeing teams.

All of our wellbeing support services will also continue to be available

International students: Test to Release


What is the Test to Release scheme?

Test to Release is for all travellers who would be required to self-isolate (also known as “quarantine”) on arrival for a period of 10 days in their accommodation.

Under the scheme people returning to England who need to self-isolate will be able to take a COVID test with a private test provider to see if they can end their self-isolation early.

Full details from the UK Government 

Who needs to self-isolate?

Anyone returning to the UK from abroad will need to follow the advice from the UK Government about travelling to England, which is available here. If you take part in Test to Release you may be able to reduce the time you self-isolate. 

How much does the test cost?

You will need to book the test with an approved provider however the University will reimburse the cost of the test up to a maximum of £120.00.  

We will be back in touch in January with details of the simple process for students to upload a copy of their test certificate and proof of payment to receive a refund of the costs up to the value of £120.  

When is Test to Release available and who can make use of it?

Reimbursement for tests taken under Test to Release will apply to all registered University of Birmingham International Students (including EU Citizens) who travel to England between the period 15 December 2020 to 15 March 2021. 

You must opt-in to the Test to Release process before you travel. 

Apply for a Reimbursement.

I want to take part in Test to Release

To take part in the scheme you need to follow the advice on the UK Government website.

Where can I find more advice on travelling for international students?

The latest information and advice can be found on the travel advice for international students webpage. 

About my studies

Will I be eligible for a refund of my tuition fees?

In line with the UK Government guidance, the University does not expect to offer any refunds of tuition fees for this period.  We are continuing to provide teaching, learning, assessment and support throughout this period as well as access to the campus facilities for those that have an exemption to attend.

How can I found out more information about my assessments?

The latest information can be found on the asessment 2020/21 pages. 

Information about travel 

I am an international student and my airline requires a negative test before I travel. Can I use a negative lateral flow test result for this purpose?

No. Students should get advice from their travel provider and destination airport. If students do travel overseas, they should consider the restrictions on entry to the country in question, such as whether they would need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country, and whether they would need to self-isolate when they return.

Returning students travelling from countries not on the exemption (travel corridor) list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days.

What is the risk of catching coronavirus on public transport?

Risks of travelling on public transport are reduced significantly by wearing a mask, observing good hand hygiene and social distancing. Full guidance on safely travelling on public transport.

Are there any restrictions when being collected from or returning to halls of residence?

If  driving,  only travel  with members  of  your current  household  or the household  you are  going  to join. If a family member is collecting you from/returning you to University accommodation then only one person will be able to enter the building with you if you need help with your bag, and they must wear a face covering.





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