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January 2021 return

Update 31 December 2020

On 30 December we received new direction from the Government about the return to university campuses in January. Those in Government are concerned about the mass movement of students around the country and they have release new guidance that limits this movement further. This guidance states that:

  • We must restrict the return to university from 4 January to very few courses. For now, only Teacher training courses and Speech and Language Therapy will continue as planned with face to face lectures.
  • All other courses will need to deliver online, connected learning, rather than face to face, located learning as we await further decisions from government. For most courses the government will make decisions around 18 January, but some may happen earlier.
  • The Government recognises that there are a number of courses with Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body approval which may need to be reviewed in terms of when they can start, and they commit to doing this in wc 4 January.
  • Students should not travel back to campus unless they are on a course starting face-to-face, located teaching. 
  • Campus facilities such as the Library and Chaplaincy will be made available for certain students, including those who have not left or are already onsite, those without access to appropriate study spaces and those who need additional support, including with mental health concerns. 
  • Commuter students should not access campus unless they fall into the above categories. 
  • Researchers should only access campus if they strictly need to for this stage of their research. 
  • Staff who need to attend campus in order to support students on site will be counted as key workers. Other staff should work from home. 
  • Anyone accessing the campus or already on site needs to get tested in order to contain the spread of the virus. Please book your tests here.


Plymouth is now in Tier 3, meaning that:

  • You cannot mix with other households indoors, and you can only meet with groups of up to six in certain outdoor spaces including parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, outdoor sports courts, but not in private gardens. Read more about Tier 3 here
  • Bars, pubs and restaurants, including Barjon, will be takeaway only.
  • Indoor leisure can remain open but with no indoor classes.


We were very much looking forward to seeing you all back on campus early in the New Year and we are sorry that this news will be disappointing to many of you. 


We know that many of you may be feeling anxious about this change, and please know that we are here to help you. This is a very difficult time and it’s OK to ask for help. Please use the information on this page to consider how best to access help for you. 


If you have questions:

  • please check the FAQs below
  • use Chatback
  • From January 4 please do ask your lecturers for any clarifications you need on your personal learning.
  • Finally there is a Q&A session on Teams for students on Monday 4 January at 12 noon. This was initially put in place for the testing centre but will now include the January return. You can find the link to the event here.



I am still at my “home address”; should I return to campus?

You should only return if your teaching is due to take place located on-campus, which from January 4 will only be students on teacher training courses and Speech and Language Therapy.

All other students should stay where they are for now, until we get more guidance and classes will be delivered online.

How will teaching and learning be delivered?

Teacher training and Speech and Language Therapy will continue as planned. All other courses will deliver online learning until at least 25 January. This decision will be reviewed by the government in week commencing 18 January.

For those on courses which will be initially online, you should assume that any planned sessions will take place at the planned time but will be online. However please note there are likely to be some changes, particularly to very practical sessions, as your lecturers work to replan the next few weeks. We have had no notice of this change and it will take a while to replan activities.


Can I travel back if I need to for mental health reasons or because I don’t have appropriate study space at home?

Yes, these are the exceptions we are asked to support where it doesn't matter which course you are on:


“You are encouraged to ensure that those students who have remained at university or who have compelling reasons to return are given appropriate support and access to study space. This could include:

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

- Students without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their vacation accommodation

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

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

- Students on placements where the placement provider has COVID-secure measures in place, is permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions and is content for placements to continue.


If you fit these criteria, you can travel back to use the campus.


What catering facilities will be open in January?

  • Barjon will be open as a takeaway.
  • The Hub Restaurant will remain open.
  • The shop will remain open as normal.
  • The Grandstand will be closed.

What will happen in the Sports & Health Centre and to student sport?

Practical sport sessions cannot run until we are able to restart located teaching for these courses.

Formal sport activities can happen outside, but we will need to assess how student sport can best work with few students on campus.

Can we use the outside spaces on campus?

The guidance states that households can leave their homes to exercise together and so if you wish to use the pitches with your household you may use them, just as you may use any other outdoor space for exercise with your household. Note you also have access to other green spaces around campus, such as allotments and woodlands.

What will happen to placements?

Placements can continue as long as your placement provider can continue to offer a Covid-secure environment, is permitted to open based on the local restrictions and is content for you to continue.

What will happen to other services on campus?

All student-facing services remain open and available online, and wherever appropriate there will also be a rota of staff (in line with Government advice) present on campus too.

The library will remain open. However in line with government guidance you will not be able to gather in groups in the library spaces.

To do group work, you will need to use virtual meetings such as on Teams.

The Chaplaincy remains open as a designated informal learning space which you are welcome to use. As with the library, you should not gather in groups, but use this for individual study and reflection.

The games room (GamePad) will remain open but should only be used at the same time by those in the same household and you should clean it down before and after use, as with other shared equipment.

What will happen for postgraduate research (PGR) students?

The PGR hub will remain open for those who need to use it for their mental health, have no alternative study space, or are resident on campus. Government advice is that you should only attend campus for the above reasons or if your research is at the stage where lab-based research is essential; otherwise you should not come to campus. We encourage you to consult with your supervisors about how you will develop your research during this period.

Will there be any social events?

The SU will be providing online social activities as no large scale face-to-face events can take place under new Tier 3 guidance.

You can exercise, or visit public places such as parks, beaches, public gardens or the countryside with up to six people, including outside on campus. You cannot meet in a private garden.

The new guidance means that you should not meet anyone outside your household indoors. It is very important that you do not allow anyone else from outside your household into your accommodation.

What if I am worried for my mental health?

Please see our advice on this page and be proactive in looking after your mental health and wellbeing. Follow online advice and ideas, and seek support from Student Support & Wellbeing by booking an online appointment. The desk will also remain open. 

Please note if you feel you need to be on campus to support your mental health, this is a valid exception as a reason for returning to campus. See the note above for more information. 



Quick links

Checklist for coming to campus

  1. Do not come to campus if you have symptoms. 
  2. Don't forget your face covering.
  3. Organise your vaccinations if you are not already fully vaccinated.