Following the news that all students will be offered Covid tests on their return to university next year, @EducationGovUK have provided an update for all students regarding testing and guidelines around travelling home for the Christmas holidays.

So can all students go home whenever they want now?

No, the guidance for students remains the same. There will be a ‘student travel window’ from 3 December to 9 December. The window will mean students can travel having just completed the four-week period of national restrictions, reducing the risk of transmission to family and friends at home.

Students should not travel home if they have developed symptoms of COVID-19 or are identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, they should remain in their current accommodation and arrange to get a test. If a student tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), they are required by law to self-isolate in their current accommodation for 10 days.

Do students need to have been tested before they go home?

It is not a legal requirement for students to be tested but will be an important tool to help students adhere to safety measures to protect themselves, their friends, family and the wider community. However, students who experience COVID-19 symptoms should follow the standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through GOV.UK.

How are you testing so many students?

We have worked with 126 universities in England to offer the majority of students COVID-19 tests before they return home for the Christmas break, this covers 75% of the student population in England. Almost all universities who expressed an interest in mass testing successfully joined the programme and set up asymptomatic testing sites.

Students at participating universities are asked to take two tests, three days apart, with results turned around within an hour to help control the spread of the virus.

What if my university isn’t part of the 126?

If students are not showing any symptoms and wish to get a test, but their university is not running some form of mass testing, they should enquire with their local testing centre. If they are showing symptoms, they should order a home test, in line with national guidance.

What if a student is staying on campus over the Christmas period?

Universities have been asked to provide additional help and practical support to students, particularly for those who remain on campus over Christmas, which can include care leavers, international students and students estranged from their families. Universities should ensure these people are properly cared for and can access affordable food, medical and cleaning supplies if needed.

The same applies for students who are isolating. Universities should continue to provide additional support to these students to ensure they can access food and medical supplies if needed, along with mental health support.

What about international students, will they be offered testing to allow them to travel home over the Christmas period?

Many universities are offering tests for both domestic and international students before they leave campus or their student accommodation. In addition to support from their universities, NHS services are available to all students.

Where students are required by their home country to arrange a specific Covid-19 test for travel, these should be arranged and paid for privately by the student themselves, with assistance from their home embassy as required.

What about coming back to university, will there be another ‘travel window?’

Not exactly. Students’ return to university should be staggered from the start of term, with medical students and those on placements or practical courses returning first. All other students are expected to return over a two-week period commencing from 25th January, with teaching held online from the start of term.

This will help universities manage a safe return of all students, ensuring they can be tested and minimising the risk of new outbreaks at the start of term.

What about international students – how will they be expected to return?

Our borders are open for both returning and new international students wishing to study in the UK and our universities are looking forward to welcoming them to campuses in the new year.

Returning or new students planning to travel to the UK from overseas in January are advised to check with their provider in advance to confirm when their face-to-face teaching begins and they should arrive on campus.

They are advised to make their provider aware in advance of their intended arrival date so that they can be appropriately supported upon arrival. If they have already pre-booked travel dates outside of their specified cohort date, and are unable to change their departure date via their travel operator, they should contact their provider to make them aware. Providers have been asked to build in appropriate flexibility for international students travelling to the UK from overseas, where there may be limited travel options, especially where they have booked travel prior to the publication of the January return guidance.

Will students need to be tested once they have returned to university?

No, this will not be a legal requirement, however, all students in England will be offered to be tested on arrival back to campus in 2021 to ensure universities remain as safe as possible. Students will be asked to take two lateral flow tests, three days apart, with results turned around within an hour to help control the spread of the virus.

Students who have spent the winter break in Tier 3 areas where mass community testing is on offer should take a test before travelling back to university.

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

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Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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