University Life in the UK 2021

20 September 2021

Can you believe it’s almost the start of the new academic year? Since Coronavirus restrictions lifted on July 19th, summer has passed in the blink of an eye. Now the early signs of autumn are showing. The first yellow leaves, the shorter days, and the falling temperature. Alongside this season of change, university students are heading for a big change as well. Whether you’re a new or returning student, your studies will be very different from what they were the past year. Unsure of what to expect? We’ve had a look through some London Universities 2021-22 website pages. 
Back to the ‘old normal’?
It seems that, in general, London universities are not planning a full return to pre-pandemic times. A small number of places aim to make wearing a face covering mandatory when in a closed space – similar to TFL. Although it appears that most universities are advising that face-coverings be worn as opposed to enforcing. In terms of studying, a hybrid approach seems to be the answer. Smaller teaching groups (workshops, laboratory practices, and studio practicals) will take be in-person. However large group lectures will be mainly online. As universities like Goldsmiths write “Our students have told us very clearly how much they value in-person interaction with fellow students and the experience of an environment that is alive with research and academic scholarship.” But still recognise the importance to limit large gatherings to curb the potential spread amongst staff and students. 
Again this varies across universities. It is advised that both students and staff should be testing with a lateral flow kit twice every week (ie. every 3-4 days). Whereas the debate on whether this should be made mandatory remains to be decided. Many universities will continue hosting self-testing centres on campus (University College). Some will offer home-test collection services (University of London , QMUL). At the very least, if you check on your university’s ‘Coronavirus’ website page, then you will most likely be able to find information about your nearest NHS test centre! 
International students 
We know that a sizeable portion of our student tenants are international. Therefore you’re probably wondering about international study. The UK welcomes international students, and they are even eligible for their COVID jabs here if they wish. The UK’s ‘traffic light’ system will also change. The government announced that from 4th October 2021 there will be no more red/amber/green categories. Instead, there will only be a red list of countries with high case numbers, requiring quarantining on arrival. Universities such as Regent’s University London are offering financial support for those who must quarantine. All those planning to come to the UK must show proof of a negative test taken no more than 3 days before flying. As well as a passenger locator form which will have to be submitted within 48 hours before arrival to the country. So plan accordingly! 
Myrooms understand that starting (or even returning to) university can be a nerve-wracking time. We were once students after all! However we cannot truly understand how unusual and hectic the past year and a half of higher education has been like. So we hope that this small summary of what to expect in the next academic year will be helpful to some. As mentioned before, make sure to also check your own university’s ‘Coronavirus’ page for information specific to your university. We wish you all a successful and fun-filled academic year 2021-22.