New and current students: arrangements from September 2020

Studying at university may be a little different this year, but we'll do everything we can to give you the best experience possible. You'll notice some adaptations to campuses and classrooms, but our tutors and student services are still here to support you.

Travelling home for Christmas? Get a free COVID-19 test before you go

As the health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our absolute priority, we wanted to outline just some of the measures we've introduced on campus. We'll continually review the situation as the situation changes.

This page contains information about:

Student on a university campus - second student in background

Current restrictions

On Wednesday 2 December, three different tiers of restrictions were introduced in England. Tier 1 is the lowest level of restrictions and Tier 3 is the highest.

Essex and Cambridgeshire (including Peterborough) are in Tier 2.

Universities remain open in all tiers and you can attend classes as normal, unless you are self-isolating.

If you're displaying COVID-19 symptoms, please stay in your term-time accommodation, self-isolate and let us know by completing the online form at If you're living in University accommodation we're here to support you all the way.

The main restrictions apply to social gatherings and household mixing.

In Tier 2, the following restrictions apply:

  • social mixing is not allowed indoors, except within your own household or a support bubble
  • the rule of six will apply outdoors, including in gardens and public spaces
  • hospitality venues that serve meals can operate, and stay open until 11pm. You can eat out with your household or support bubble but cannot mix with other households.

Our campuses will remain open (except for the normal Christmas closure) and we’ll continue to teach and carry out research in a COVID-secure way. And of course if Government advice changes, we’ll let you know.

Across all tiers everyone must:

  • wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless you have an exemption
  • follow the rules on meeting others safely, both indoors and outside
  • attend school, college or university as normal, unless you’re self-isolating
  • walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and try to avoid busy times and routes when travelling.

The Government advises that you avoid travel to Tier 3 areas where possible, though you can travel through Tier 3 areas as part of a longer journey – for example if you’re travelling home at Christmas.

There are some exceptions to this. If you live in a Tier 3 area you can travel outside that area for work and education. You can also travel between tiers if you are on a placement as part of your course.

If you travel from Tier 2 into a Tier 1 area, you should continue to follow Tier 2 rules.

Read all the instructions for each tier on the Gov.UK website.

Returning home for Christmas

The Government has issued guidance for university students about travelling home safely for Christmas.

If you wish to travel home, you're asked to do so between 3-9 December – that is, the days immediately following the end of the current national restrictions.

Before you travel, you have the opportunity to be tested.

+ What are the arrangements for getting a test before I travel home?

If you can't travel at this time because you've tested positive for COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you'll be able to travel after 9 December. We'll be here to support you while you self-isolate.

To make this possible, universities have been asked to move all learning online from 9 December. At ARU, we'll be moving all learning online from the end of Friday 4 December, until the end of term.

If you're a healthcare student on placement, you're considered an essential worker and should remain in your placement until the end of the planned placement. You can then travel home for the holidays, if you're not self-isolating and you follow the public health guidance. Our campuses will remain open from 7-18 December to provide support for students remaining on or near campus.

Our campuses will close for the holiday period at the end of Friday 18 December, but we'll continue to provide support for students remaining in ARU accommodation throughout the holiday period.

Our campuses will reopen on Monday 4 January, and we will continue to offer you the choice of On-campus or Online only learning for Trimester 2 (January-May 2021), subject to any additional Government restrictions that may be in place at that time.

Creating a COVID-19 secure environment

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

Currently we have introduced the following measure on all campuses:

  • introduced one-way systems in campus buildings wherever possible
  • increased cleaning regimes
  • provided hand sanitiser stations around campus for your use
  • restructured the teaching timetable to stagger break times, and prevent crowds from forming outside teaching spaces
  • changed the layout of classrooms and other specialist learning spaces, such as workshops and science labs, to comply with social distancing requirements
  • switched to offering grab-and-go options at our catering outlets, and using cashless payment
  • made changes to the details we all use to access systems at ARU, so you can use the most up-to-date technology.

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 you’ll be taught in smaller groups, ensuring excellent support.

We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different due to the pandemic. And so you can choose how you prefer to study for Trimesters 1 and 2 (September-December 2020; January-May 2021). There's a choice of online only, or campus teaching supported by online technologies.

You'll have the chance to change your preference at set times in the year.

You'll notice a few changes from September 2020 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 teaching block
  • campus teaching may include seminars, workshops, practicals and labs (where relevant)
  • campus teaching will be 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, will 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're also arranging 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'll be able to access:

  • library resources and digital support online
  • campus libraries (with reduced opening hours and seating to allow for social distancing)
  • all student services, including counselling and wellbeing, disability and dyslexia support, employability and placement services, and Study Skills both face-to-face (by appointment) and online
  • the iCentre and ARU Temps recruitment agency without appointments
  • open access PC areas, with some computers available on a drop-in basis, and some bookable in advance
  • 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 will be putting on activities to help you have some fun and relax
  • student-run societies will continue to have fantastic events and activities
  • your confidential advice service will be open, by appointment, to provide support and guidance
  • campus gyms will be open, and Team ARU encourages you to get involved and enjoy social and competitive sports in a safe and socially distanced way
  • we’ll also be providing space on campus for socially distanced social activities, group and personal study, and relaxation.


For new students and others living in University accommodation, 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 choose to study online for Trimesters 1 or 2 (September-December 2020; January-May 2021) and have a tenancy agreement, your agreement will continue.

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.