Test & Go: Christmas travel plans FAQs

We know how important it is for you to get home over the Christmas break. For many of you, this will be the first time you have seen your families in person since you came to campus in September.

You may have been aware of the Government’s plans to help students return home safely at Christmas. We are following Government guidance and working with our own world-leading scientists to develop a plan to support you to return home at the end of term in a way that helps to minimise the risk of transmitting Covid to family and friends.

Read a copy our statement to all students.

To support these plans we have developed a set of Q&As to help address some of the queries and concerns you may have. We will continue to add to these as more information is available and we expect to be able to provide a full update next week and confirmation of when booking for the test site will be open.

Read the FAQs for:

About my studies 

Information for international students

Information about the testing process

Information about travel within the UK

About my studies


Is the University closing after 4 December?

The University will not be closed. In order to support the national plan to assist students who need to travel home for the Christmas vacation period we have confirmed that the majority of face-to-face teaching will move online for the last week of scheduled teaching (week commencing 7 December) This will allow those who have returned a positive test to access learning while they are isolating, and to allow those who return a negative test and go home, to be able to learn remotely.

Assessment Support Week (week commencing 14 December) will be conducted online with more information to follow.

Read a copy our statement to all students.

How will I know how to access these new online sessions?

Your department will provide further information on how to access any additional online sessions.

Will the Library and study spaces still be open?

Yes, we know that a number of students are planning to stay on and around campus over Christmas, as they do every year. In addition, some international students will be arriving in Birmingham over the next few weeks.  For all these students and our commuter students the University will remain open for access to the library, study spaces and catering until Friday 18 December.

During the two-week University closure period, which starts on Monday 21 December, you will still be able to access the Library and study spaces as well as emergency wellbeing support - we are only closed on the public holidays and weekends.

I am on a placement that runs beyond 9 December – what does this mean for me?

Further advice will be available from your academic department for students who are undertaking placements during this time.

What if for my course some of my teaching or placement needs to be in person?

We are expecting NHS placements to carry on. Specific advice will be provided direct to students for whom this is an issue.

I am scheduled to have lab sessions/practicals after 9 December – will these still go ahead?

Further advice will be available from your academic department for students who have any scheduled lab sessions or practicals during this period.

I still need access to a lab for my research project work – can this continue?

The University will be open for continuing research activity but you should confirm access arrangements with your academic department / Supervisor. 

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 any students who are not planning to go home for the Christmas vacation. 

What if I need a coursework deadline extension or to make a claim for extenuating circumstances?

Our Framework for Educational Resilience has been developed carefully to try to ensure that every student can still undertake the assessments for their modules as originally prescribed. However, mindful of the difficult situations in which many students find themselves, and the real difficulties some students face in meeting assignment deadlines due to the continuing pandemic, we would like to remind you that you can apply for an extension or for extenuating circumstances.

We would also like to reassure you that, in the Boards of Examiners next summer, we will consider for each student the profile of marks as a whole (including second and first year marks)  when arriving at the final degree classification, taking account of the circumstances you have experienced whilst maintaining the integrity of your degree.

Please note: In light of the continuing COVID-19 situation, it is accepted that you may not be able to provide evidence of circumstances that have impacted upon your studies/assessments, whether related or unrelated to the pandemic (this should be indicated on your extenuating circumstances form).

 Information for international students


Can I travel home for the Christmas Vacation period?

The UK Government advice says: 'international students currently in the UK can return home, subject to any restrictions in place at their destination. Being outside of one’s home for the purposes of outbound travel to one’s country of nationality/residence can be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ under the regulations. However, it is not considered that leaving home for the purposes of outbound travel for a holiday would amount to a reasonable excuse.'

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 if I am an international student who won’t be leaving Birmingham at Christmas?

In any year we always have a number of international students who stay in and around the campus and City – and you are welcome to stay.   For students in UoB accommodation we will provide further details of the support and activities that will be available over the Christmas period.   If you are living elsewhere in the local community we will also be updating our Christmas Vacation webpages with further information about what is open and available for you to access. 

 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.

How do I book a test?

We are planning to open an Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) meaning that you should not visit the test site if you have any symptoms of Covid-19.  If you have any symptoms of coronavirus then you should self-isolate immediately and apply for a test at your nearest testing centre

As soon as our plans for the Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) are confirmed we will communicate with you the details of how to book online.

Can anyone book a test?

All students will be eligible to book a test.  However, the priority group for testing are those students who are intending to travel home during the Christmas vacation period.  Tests are free and open to all current students. 

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 home for Christmas.

What happens if I don’t take a test?

Students who do not get tested because they choose not to, or because their university does not offer asymptomatic testing, are advised to self-isolate for 10 days before returning home.

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 in England 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 I test negative can I go home straight away?

Yes. If you have a negative test result after 2 December (when current travel restrictions are lifted) then you will be able to go home straight away. 

We are recommending that you should make plans to travel home within 24 hours of receiving your negative test result.

Your test result reflects your status at that moment in time only. You should continue to follow all of the guidance to keep everyone safe, observe social distancing, and any local restrictions that may be in force in the area you are travelling to.

If you have a negative test but your housemates or other close contacts test positive then you can either stay here and self-isolate for 14 days or return home and self-isolate for 14 days.  It is important that you make this decision as soon as you receive your test result.

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

First, you should book yourself a test at the Asymptomatic Test Site we’re setting up. If you test negative, you must still self-isolate for 14 days. However, the government has advised that on this occasion this can be done at your home location If you test negative and travel straight away - following relevant travel guidance. You should only use public transport if you have no other option and we ask that you consider the risk of transmission to your family members at home. 

Can I travel home if I don’t get tested?

Yes, you can, although you will not know if you have COVID-19 without symptoms.  At the moment the earliest date that you can travel home is 3 December, once national restrictions on travel are lifted.

If I test positive what support will the Uni 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.

Information about travel within the UK

Is the University providing/facilitating transport?

We recommend that before travelling home you should: make your travel plans in advance, avoid busy times and routes and check your journey to avoid disruptions.

If driving - only travel with members of your household or support bubble, and follow safer travel advice guidelines. On public transport it is important that travellers wear a face covering unless exempt, wash or sanitise hands regularly, use contactless payment and keep a two metre distance where possible.

For advice on safer travel  please follow the Government travel guidance available. 

What is the risk of catching coronavirus on public transport – while travelling home?

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.

I live in Scotland/Wales/NI can I go home?

You should follow the local advice for your home region.

Will I be able to travel outside of 3-9 December?

This is the ‘travel window’ provided by the Government so we strongly recommend you travel within it wherever possible.

Anyone who remains at university after 9 December will run the risk of having to undertake a period of isolation of up to 14 days if they develop Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or were identified as a contact of someone who had, and would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home for the end of year break.






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