Returning to university in January 2021

The UK Government has now published guidance for universities about students returning to university after the Christmas break. Importantly this emphasises a commitment to ensuring that on campus in-person teaching and university life can continue as far as possible during these unprecedented times. The government guidance is that the return of students is staggered over five weeks and all students should be offered asymptomatic Covid testing on return. We are writing with information about what this means for you. 

Like other universities, we will be continuing to provide a blend of face-to-face and online learning after Christmas and from the start of Semester 2. In line with the government guidance we are phasing when on campus activities will start. This is in order to support the needs of different groups of students while helping reduce the mass movement of students across the country which could result in an increased risk of Covid transmission. Similar to the current approach available to students to undertake an asymptomatic Covid test before travelling home for Christmas, the University will also offer tests for all students on return to campus in the New Year and throughout January. More information about this is provided below.

We recognise that there will be students who remain in Birmingham throughout the Christmas break, as well as those who commute or may have a need to return to their accommodation earlier, and we will ensure that you can continue to access study spaces, campus catering and other welfare and wellbeing support. International students returning or arriving in the UK can also be assured that we will be ready to welcome you.  

We have already confirmed that the two-week Assessment Period from 11 January will be online, and access to on campus services will be possible before and during the assessment period for those students that need it. UoBe Festival will also take place online from 25-29 January. Semester 2 starts from 1 February for all students.

Returning to campus and Covid testing

The government guidance advises that all students should be tested as soon as they return to their term time address and before they start using facilities on campus or attending teaching sessions. We will be using the Lateral Flow Device tests, which are for people without any symptoms. They provide a quick result and the guidance is that you should have two tests, at least three days apart. Testing will start from the 5 January and will run until the 5 February. The tests will need to be booked in advance and will take place in the Great Hall, more information about how to book onto a test will be available next week.

In accordance with our planned schedule of teaching and learning, the following is when activities will re-commence on campus. Students are advised to use this schedule in planning their return to campus.

Week commencing Monday 4 January: 

  • All Clinical, Education and Social Work programmes where there are planned placements or face to face teaching    

Week commencing Monday 11 January: Assessment Week 1 


  • All other clinical or placement-based programmes with planned face to face teaching
  • Other programmes with practical, performance or specialist requirements with planned face to face teaching
  • Executive MBA programmes with planned face to face teaching
  • Birmingham International Academy programmes


Week commencing Monday 18 January: Assessment Week 2

  • Other programmes with planned face to face teaching

Week commencing Monday 25 January: UoBe Festival Week 

  • All other first and final year undergraduate students 
  • All other PGT students

Week commencing Monday 1 February:  Semester 2 commences​​​​​​

  • All students
PGR students are not restricted on when they return and can do so in accordance with their research activities.

Students with specific study or personal needs, including students needing access to suitable IT, equipment, or study space not available at home in order to revise and take online assessments, may return at any point.  

We will be in contact with you again next week - with further information to support your return in January.  We will also provide an updated set of FAQs and a link to these. 

If you have any specific queries about your programme please contact your School or Department.


Professional Services