Coronavirus FAQs

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  • Wellbeing Support

    This is where we are...

    We know how big of an issue this is, with the lockdown and changes to studying having an affect on the mental health and wellbeing of students. This is a priority for us, particularly Ruby (VP Welfare). Your Students’ Guild is working on different projects to make progress on student wellbeing, including:

    Wellbeing Week – from 1-5 February we’re holding Wellbeing Week, all about destigmatising mental health on campus, raising awareness for issues faced amongst the student community and signposting to support services on campus, within the University and in the community. We’re going to be releasing more information very soon about this including how to get involved, so keep an eye out.

    Wellbeing Discussion Forum – we’re working on setting up a forum where students can provide feedback, raise concerns or suggest ideas about wellbeing services available to students and about issues having an impact on student wellbeing.

    There are other projects that we’ll be telling you a little more about soon – please remember to continue telling us how you’re being affected with our coronavirus feedback form.

    Update from Ruby (VP Welfare and Diversity) 19 January: Following conversations with the University today, my suggestion of a recurring virtual Town Hall event allowing students the opportunity to feed back their concerns regarding welfare and wellbeing has been approved.

    These will be split into different themes (e.g. Accommodation, Education/Course, Wellbeing Services/Postgraduate Students) so that we can ensure we have the right people in the right “virtual” room.

    We will have more info soon but hoping to launch the first one during Wellbeing Week which is the first week of February - I will update you as soon as a date is confirmed. Thank you so much for all your student feedback that has made this possible!

  • No Detriment Policy

    This is where we are...

    We have had several meetings with Professor Tim Quine, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), and Professor Rob Freathy, Academic Dean for Students / Dean of the Faculty of Taught Programmes, to discuss the potential for a No Detriment Policy in late 2020. We also met with the University on Friday 8 January 2021, along with officers from Exeter & Falmouth Students’ Union, and members of Students For Academic Mitigation campaign group to ask the University to put in concrete protections for your student outcomes.

    We know that this is something a large number of students are asking for, and we are absolutely committed to protecting your academic outcomes. This is unfortunately not something that we will be able to sort overnight however, but we will continue to fight for you and update you.

    The University provided an update on Friday 8 January to clarify that they are committed to protecting student academic outcomes, and that there are resources available should additional support be needed. The update also explained that the mechanisms Exeter has in place are in line with other Russell Group universities.

    Sunday has teamed up with other Russell Group Presidents to respond to Russell Group Universities, asking them to reconsider the support they are currently offering students and to ask for safety net policies. Find out more here.

    Penny and Sunday have also created a joint statement with UCU, The SU in Cornwall and Students for Academic Mitigation about protecting your student outcomes. Read it in full here.

  • Rent Rebates

    This is where we are...

    We have raised the issue with Mike Shore-Nye, Registrar, Linda Peka, Deputy Registrar, and other Senior Managers within Campus Infrastructure and Operational Support Services (which is the department that managers the halls of residence). They are working with UUK and other institutions to lobby the government to support the HE sector to be able to rectify the funding issues many Universities are facing.

    As of Thursday 7 January 2021, the University has decided to waive the accommodation fee for students who are in University owned accommodation or those in nominated spaces in private providers while we are in this national lockdown. Not all universities have chosen to do this and Exeter is one of the few universities who have taken this step at this time. This has been in collaboration with the feedback you have provided the Full-Time Officers and your Students’ Guild. You can read the University’s statement on the University here. Find our statement here.

    26 January Update: Both Unite Students (now Host) and Collegiate Private Accommodation Providers have announced that they are (for a select period) reducing rents by 50% but you need to apply. For Collegiate more information here and for Unite Students here.

    What does this mean for you?

    If you have accommodation with the University that you are not currently in and you have not yet paid, you will be not charged at this stage. When more information comes to light about the lifting of lockdown the University will update you as to what to be expected regarding future fees.

    What to do if you have already paid?

    If you have already paid and are not in your accommodation your fee for accommodation will be adjusted to reflect this. We would expect this to be an adjustment to further rent for term three rather than a refund. We do not know how long this lockdown will last so are unable to tell what the payment for this term could end up being.

    Will this happen automatically, or do I need to do anything?

    You do not need to do anything at this stage. The University will be processing this as quickly as they can and will communicate with you what steps you need to take as soon as the process has been formalised. We would advise that you do not contact the accommodation team directly unless it was a necessity, They will inform you when and how they will require you to contact them.

    How long will this last?

    At the moment we do not know, as this will be dependent upon when and how the national lockdown is lifted.

    What to do if you are on campus?

    If you are already in your University or nominated accommodation, that is fine and you can continue to stay in this and will be charged accordingly. You should not leave your accommodation to travel to any other accommodation now that you are in Exeter.

    How do I know if I am in nominated accommodation?

    If your contract is with the University but you are in purpose-built student accommodation, it is likely that you are in nominated accommodation. This would be more relevant for first year students who applied for accommodation with the accommodation guarantee, although there are some other students that this would apply to.

    What about private rented?

    We know, however, that there are a large portion of students who rent or are in private accommodation, please know that we have not forgotten you. We are still working hard to see what can be done to support you. Sunday, Guild President, has met with other Presidents from SU’s all around the country to put plans in place to collaboratively lobby the Government to create a financial package for landlords to allow students a relief from rent charges. This is an issue that goes beyond Exeter, but one that we intend to be at the forefront of tackling.  

    Most student contracts are fixed term, tenancies and most landlords will be reluctant to release students from this contractual obligation especially if they have mortgages to pay, or student accommodation is the business model. However, it is worth having that conversation.  

    The Government has so far not indicated that students will be exempted from paying rent if they are not using their property due to lockdown. They have offered some initiatives to help landlords such as mortgage payment holidays and guidance for being reasonable in working with tenants struggling with rent.

    Some students may have break clauses or some purpose-built student accommodation providers may have payment waivers if all learning is online, so it is worth checking what your housing provider is offering. If you’re are in purpose-build student accommodation and your provider is a member of the Unipol National Code assured accommodation scheme you may wish to refer to Unipol guidance

    What can you do if you are struggling with your rent?

    In the first instance we strongly recommend that you can contact your landlord to discuss the possibility of coming out of the contract or if you are struggling to pay to see if you can negotiate reduced payments.

    Here is a template for you to use to request a reduction or waivered rent costs.

    You may be eligible from some financial support towards living costs from the University Success for All Fund .

    The information provided is current based on guidance from the Government. This may change in future.  

    Can I stop paying my rent?

    No, unfortunately you still need to pay the rent as this what you have agreed to do by signing the contract.

    My housemates are refusing to pay their rent and I am worried that I will have to.

    You all signed an agreement to pay the rent and they are still liable for this. Most student contracts are supported by guarantor agreements and the landlord will likely seek payment from the guarantor if the student is unable to pay.

    What is the Guild doing to support you?

    As well as campaigning for the University to not charge accommodation fees during lockdown and we've created a letter that you can take to your landlord here is a template; the Guild is working with other unions to lobby the government to consider the impact on students and the financial burden of the rent. It’s important that you continue to update your Students’ Guild on how you’re being affected through the coronavirus feedback form.

    What should I do if I have belongings I need in my room?

    Government guidance is that only essential travel can happen over lockdown and if you can avoid travelling to Exeter this is advised. If you need anything collecting from your halls or have any concerns you can contact the University's Accommodation Team to see if they can arrange for it to be sent to you.

    Will I still get my maintenance loan?

    The Government information indicates that students will still receive their expected maintenance loan payment this term so for many students this will help them pay the rent. We do recognise that for some students who do not get maintenance loan or whose loan amount does not cover their rent, that this is oversimplifying the situation. If this is you may want to look at applying to the Success for All Fund for assistance.  

    It’s not safe for me where I am, what can I do?

    The government's guidance allows you to travel in situations where you are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse). If this is your situation you may need to contact services to support this, such as University Welfare, or if relevant, the police, or relevant domestic abuse support charities. 

    I am planning to move house what can I do?

    According to current government guidance house moves can go ahead in a socially distanced manner, and house viewings are allowed provided they are done safely.

    More information

    If we have not answered your question or you need more information, you are very welcome to contact our advice service for further information or support with housing issues, advice@exeterguild.com

    For more information on your housing rights during the pandemic visit Shelter, the national housing charity 

  • Information on Returning to Campus

    This is where we are...

    Due to the national lockdown, in-person teaching has been suspended until mid-February, except for ‘future critical worker’ courses and certain limited courses that require accreditation from a professional body (PSRB). You can view the full details of exempt courses here.

    Students who have not already returned to campus or Exeter from their winter break are being asked to remain where they are to avoid spreading Covid during their travel. Students who are already back in Exeter or on campus accommodation should now remain where they are.

    Students are able to return to term-time accommodation in the following situations:

    • International students who have remained in the UK, or those who have arrived and do not have alternative accommodation

    • Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation (if you do not believe you have adequate study space where you currently are, you are permitted to return to campus)

    • Students who have remained in their university accommodation over the winter break

    • Those requiring additional support, including those with mental health issues 

    Some buildings on campus are open in order to provide study space and for other reasons during the lockdown – details can be found here.

General FAQs

What’s the current University advice?

The University guidance is informed by the government guidance, and will continue to adjust based on this. The University have released some detailed FAQ's which fully outline their guidance, which we’d encourage you to read fully. As of 4 January, we are in a national lockdown, which means the University are asking students to not return from their winter break unless they meet one of the exemptions specified on their FAQ page. 

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How can I look after my own wellbeing during self-distancing?

Ruby Jones, VP Welfare & Diversity:

By following government advice, we’ll all be spending significantly more time at home, often on our own. During these difficult times, it’s so important that you look after your mental wellbeing, not just your physical wellbeing. I’ve put together some advice for self-distancing, which I hope will be useful in helping you make what is a big adjustment for us all.

In terms of continuing your studies from home, I’m sure many of you are concerned about not going to your regular study spots or the library. Studying at home will be an adjustment, and I’d recommend doing the following to help:

  • Get your study space right – try not to study in bed or somewhere you’ll easily be distracted. This might be difficult for some, but making a clear divide for your work/life balance is really important.

  • Get into a routine – routines aren’t the most glamorous of things, but they genuinely do help working from home.

  • Stay in contact – even though we’re not going to be with people, make use of the technology we have available and stay in regular contact with people! We’re all going through this together, so let’s support each other.

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What should you do if you’re showing symptoms

Sunday Blake, Guild President:

It’s important that you follow government and NHS guidelines if you’re showing any symptoms for coronavirus – this is to look after both yourself and those around you. Take a look at the NHS guidelines to make sure you know what to do. Testing is available for students, and they are being encouraged to book tests if they are in Exeter or when they return. Find out more here

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Is campus open?

You can view which areas of campus are open here

In spaces that are open, there are a number of safety measures and precautions in place in spaces and buildings on campus, from the 2 metres rule and hand sanitiser stations to limited capacities in rooms. Please respect and follow the guidance at all times.

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What safety measures are in place?   

There are a series of safety measures on campus to ensure the safety of students and staff. These include wearing a face mask in certain areas including shops and the library, one way systems, hand sanitiser stations and more. You can find the full details of these here.

It’s absolutely essential that we all do our best to follow the safety measures to help stop the spread of the virus so that we can get back to normality as quickly as possible. Following the measures will help to avoid the spread of cases and get us back to in-person teaching and activity as soon as possible. 

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Do I need to wear a mask on campus?   

In certain situations and areas on campus you will be required to wear a face mask. You can find out more here

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I don’t have a laptop or the money to buy one – how can I access a laptop so I can adjust to blended learning?  

Financial help is available through the University’s Success for All Fund, which exists to support students get the necessary IT equipment for their course, as well as a range of other purposes. You can find out more about the Fund here.  

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What can my society do at the moment? 

Due to the announcement of the national lockdown, launching in-person society activity has unfortunately been put on hold - we have emailed society committee members with full details. Your society can still organise and run online events and encourage your members and friends to get involved in our Get Connected campaign! We’re planning loads of great stuff to keep students engaged during the lockdown. If your society would like to get involved, either attending or hosting a Get Connected event, check out our Hub here

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I have a question about complaints and refunds? 

We have comprehensive FAQ's to answer your questions about complaints and refunds. Read More.

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