New and current students: arrangements for 2020-21

Studying at university may be a little different this year, but we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. Whether you're on campus or studying online, our tutors and student services are here to support you.

If you're on campus you'll notice some adaptations to buildings and classrooms. We'll continue to review these measures as the COVID-19 situation changes.

This page contains information about:

Student on a university campus - second student in background

Returning to university

Letter from Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Universities, to students

Following the announcement made by Minister Michelle Donelan (above) on 10 May 2021, we’re able to confirm arrangements for Trimester 3 (May–July 2021).

From Monday 17 May all students are welcome to return to campus to use our facilities, and those who have teaching in Trimester 3 will have already received an email last week outlining their teaching arrangements.

You will be very welcome to use facilities including our libraries, study spaces and open access areas. You will also be able to take part in activities being organised both online and in-person (where Government restrictions allow) by us and the Students’ Union. Campus Sport – our social sport programme where you can meet new people, get involved and have fun – will be offering a variety of activities and is due to restart later in May following Government guidelines.

Your health and wellbeing
We appreciate that this is a difficult time, and we would encourage you to make the most of the resources in your Health and Wellbeing hub. Our Counselling and Wellbeing team offer daily drop-in sessions Monday to Friday from 11am to 12 noon with a counsellor or mental health adviser and 2pm to 3pm (term time only) with a wellbeing adviser. We are also running weekly workshops to build your confidence and skills to succeed in your studies.

Events and activities
The Students’ Union continue to organise various events and activities for you to get involved in; visit Digital Events to see what’s planned. And if you’re interested to know more about the volunteering opportunities available please visit

Travelling home
The Government has stated that students who have returned to their term time address should not move back to their permanent home during term time, unless they meet one of the exemptions.

To minimise the risk of transmission, all university students are being asked to remain in their term time accommodation where possible.

EU and international students

We encourage you not to travel to the UK until face to face teaching on your course begins, in line with Government advice. Please continue to engage with your studies online.

When you do travel to the UK for face to face teaching it is important that you familiarise yourself with the UK Government travel requirements before you make any travel plans. As UK Government rules can change at short notice, visit the Gov.UK website for the latest pre-departure and arrival information.

If you are required to self-isolate on arrival you can join a range of social and wellbeing events online. Further support is available if you are self-isolating in university accommodation.

Universities UK also has an information page for students who are coming to the UK to study.

Students on clinical placements

Your clinical placement is continuing as usual. If you have any queries please contact your Course Leader.

Asymptomatic testing

One in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. If you're on campus we expect you to be tested regularly to help keep your friends, family and our ARU community safe.

  • Staff and students joining face to face teaching, or working or teaching one day a week on campus, to take a weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 lateral flow test.
  • Staff and students joining face to face teaching, or working or teaching more than once a week on campus, to take two tests a week.

This also applies to students living on, or within walking distance of, our campuses. Public Health England advises tests should be taken 3-5 days apart.

Students who have clinical skills sessions where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as students on medical and health courses, are asked to take a test twice a week.

Staff and students do not need to receive a negative test result before they go into class, but they must continue to wear a face covering and remain socially distanced.

Our Testing Centres are open daily. Appointments can be booked easily online and take just 15 minutes.

Students and staff in Peterborough are welcome to take a test in either Cambridge or Chelmsford, or at a local testing centre. Peterborough City Council's website has details of testing centres in Peterborough and you can book a test online.

We encourage all staff and students to use the closest lateral flow testing centre to where they live.

Asymptomatic tests will be available via a 'University Collect’ service from June and details will be published shortly.

We ask you to maintain safe behaviours across our campuses, including wearing a face covering indoors, maintain social distancing and regular hand washing.

If you receive a positive test result

If you receive a positive lateral flow test result, you must leave campus immediately and go straight to your current place of residence as quickly and as safely as possible.

If you use public transport, follow passenger guidance on how to travel safely: wear a face covering, stay two metres away from other passengers, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and follow local COVID-19 arrangements.

You can also follow additional precautions on public transport.

We continue to offer very close support to any students who are self-isolating. Visit Supporting you through self-isolation to read more.

Important update: follow-up actions for positive lateral flow tests

From 30 March, anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test (LFT) must take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within two days of receiving the positive result.

If you receive a positive LFT, you and everyone in your household must self-isolate for ten days. You must only leave home for your follow-up PCR test.

Creating a COVID-19 secure environment

We've worked hard to create Covid-secure campuses and manage the risk of coronavirus transmission.

We have:

  • carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment
  • put new cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in place
  • taken all reasonable steps to maintain two-metre social distancing
  • where people can't be two metres apart, we've done everything practical to manage the risk of transmission
  • taken all reasonable steps to provide adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces.

Supporting you academically

We're committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for you to study in. You'll be able to access campus as required and be taught in smaller groups, ensuring excellent support.

We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different due to the pandemic. Most students (except those on clinical placements or with practical course elements) can choose how you prefer to study. There's a choice of on campus supported by online technologies or online only.

You can change your preference at set times in the year.

If you're returning to timetabled teaching on 17 May, you'll notice a few changes so we can be sure we're following social distancing guidelines:

  • teaching blocks of four hours, on campus one day a week (for example 8am–12, 12–4pm or 4–8pm). You won't have to attend more than one teaching block on that day but you will be able to access other facilities outside your timetabled teaching block
  • campus teaching may include seminars, workshops, practicals and labs (where relevant)
  • campus teaching is supplemented by a rich range of online group teaching and learning activities delivered through Microsoft Teams, such as virtual practicals, online assessments, discussion boards and group work exercises
  • courses that use specialist learning spaces, such as skill labs, may have additional time allocated in those spaces
  • we've installed some of the specialist applications software that is normally only available in our IT teaching labs on computers in the Open Access areas to increase availability outside teaching hours
  • we've also arranged for specialist facilities to be available for booking for self-directed learning, when they're not in use for timetabled teaching
  • we've published guidelines on technical requirements for online learning.

Supporting your studies

We know how important it is that you receive excellent study support. You are able to access:

  • library resources and digital support online
  • campus libraries (with reduced seating to allow for social distancing)
  • all student services – including counselling and wellbeing, disability and dyslexia support, employability and placement services, ARU Temps, and Study Skills – face to face and online
  • the iCentre (open on campus 9am-1pm and 1.30-5pm, Monday-Friday, or email
  • open access PC areas, with some computers available on a drop-in basis
  • access to support from key contacts if your studies involve a placement.

Offering a wider student experience

It's never been more important to have some fun, relax and enjoy a bit of 'normality' in our lives. And so:

  • your Students’ Union continues to organise activities to help you have some fun and relax
  • student-run societies continue to have fantastic events and activities
  • your confidential advice service is open, by appointment, to provide support and guidance
  • our campus gyms are open and Team ARU encourages you to enjoy social and competitive sports in a safe and socially distanced way
  • we’ve also provided space on campus for group and personal study, and relaxation.


Our accommodation team has put a number of social distancing measures in place.

In the event of a national or national lockdown we will continue to follow the National Institute for Health Protection guidance and ask all students to remain in their current accommodation.

If you live in ARU accommodation and want to be released from a tenancy agreement please contact our Residential Service Team.

If you live in a nomination hall (CB1, The Railyard, Sedley Court, the YMCA), please contact the staff in your accommodation.

Visit Student News for full details of all these changes.