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Coronavirus information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) status at Birkbeck

We have started the 2020-21 academic year differently because of COVID-19, but we have not compromised our academic standards, nor the quality of our learning opportunities. We will continue to adapt to the situation as it develops, and whether the teaching is online only, on campus, or a mixture, students will enjoy an excellent Birkbeck learning experience.

The health and wellbeing of our students and staff members remains our top priority.

You can read about how we have approached this in the Vice Chancellor's welcome and in the Academic Registrar’s blog post.

Self-isolating or positive COVID test

If you develop coronavirus symptoms, please complete the notification process for COVID-19 via My Birkbeck.

If you are contacted independently by the NHS Test and Trace scheme, please provide them with the following email address for Birkbeck: covid@bbk.ac.uk.

Access to Birkbeck buildings

Make sure you read the student protocol for visiting Birkbeck buildings before you travel, and watch the video overview.

Birkbeck is committed to providing a safe environment while you study and use Library facilities. There are 140 study spaces available for current student use. To visit the Library, you will need to book in advance to use a study space and to borrow items. View Library opening hours. There will be no access to the Library without a booking.

We will keep the situation under close review and provide more in-person learning and support opportunities once it becomes safe to do so.

CAMPUS EVENTS AND TEACHING

The College will be continuing to monitor government guidance on social distancing for campus events and teaching. Due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, we will again be delivering our programmes online in the Spring Term (January-March) and we will take a decision on teaching in the Summer Term (April-July) during Spring Term 2021. 

Option to complete the academic year fully online

We guaranteed that you would be able to complete the academic year through our high-quality online learning platform. We hope that you will also be able to access as many of our campus facilities as COVID-19 constraints allow.

This balanced approach is designed to safeguard your educational experience and ensure that you can engage with the Birkbeck community if you are placed in local lockdown, required to self-isolate, need to shield from the coronavirus or unable to travel to the Birkbeck estate. This also ensures continuity of your studies if your personal or professional circumstances are affected or change.

Our virtual classrooms are supported by a rich range of learning materials including videos, reading materials and learning activities, which you can engage with at times convenient to you. You also have virtual access to a full range of student support services.

Travelling home over Christmas

  • The government has issued holiday travel advice for students whose term-time accommodation is different to their year-round accommodation. 
  • They have asked that students remain in their term-time accommodation until 2 December and travel to their home accommodation between 2 and 9 December. They have also told universities that all teaching must be online after 9 December over the Christmas period.
  • Most of our students live in their term-time accommodation year-round and most of our teaching is already online. However, if you are travelling home over the Christmas period, we recommend you follow guidance on self-isolating before you travel.
  • As part of government plans to support UK students to travel home within the UK safely for the end of term/Christmas break, Birkbeck is partnering with the University of London and NHS Test and Trace to run asymptomatic testing at Student Central on Malet Street. Assess whether the testing is appropriate for you, and then book your test.

My Studies

  • Designed with accessibility in mind, our excellent online resources and support will work across various devices and platforms. As most of our teaching will be virtual in the autumn, you will need a personal computer or laptop and reliable internet connection. If these are not available to you, at home, work or on campus, please check our financial support pages for news of relevant schemes of support that may be able to assist you.
  • If you are concerned about your progress on your course, please contact your personal tutor or lecturer. You can find the details of your personal tutor by logging in to My Birkbeck and selecting 'Academic Support'.
  • If you decide that the logistical challenges of continuing your studies are too great, you can take a break in studies due to compelling personal reasons. Before you do, please talk to your personal tutor or lecturer.
  • Keep checking your email, My Birkbeck and online calendars for information about your classes.
  • If you feel unsatisfied with your experience, please raise your concerns with the department in the first instance to see if they can help resolve your concerns. If you are still dissatisfied, you can lodge a formal complaint by following our student complaints policy and form on our policies page.
  • We are using national guidance from the Office for Students and the Quality Assurance Agency to ensure that teaching quality and standards are maintained, and to mitigate the impact of the situation on your studies and assessments.
  • If you are self-isolating, you are required to your update your status on My Birkbeck.

Research students and supervisors

  • The impact of COVID-19 is a particular threat to the long-term nature of the work of researchers, and the BGRS is working to find the best ways to support our PhD students.
  • Information and guidance specifically for PhD students and supervisors is available on the BGRS Moodle site, which includes an open letter from PhD students to Professor Julian Swann, and his response.
  • Research students should keep in touch with their supervisors and check the BGRS website for information.

Mitigating circumstances

  • Mitigating circumstances claims must be made through My Birkbeck.
  • If you are unable to submit an assessment or you consider that your performance suffered as a direct result of significant personal or family illness, bereavement or serious personal, emotional or financial challenges either related or unrelated to the outbreak of COVID-19, then you should submit a mitigating circumstances claim in My Birkbeck.
  • Please visit the links below and read the information carefully:
  • You can track your mitigating circumstances claim through the Ask system.

Financial support

  • Birkbeck offers a range of financial support options to students. We can take IT-related costs into account when assessing your financial support application.

Wellbeing

Student services

TRAVEL

International students

  • Birkbeck attracts students from over 100 different countries, all of whom contribute to the vibrant community at the College. View our social activities.
  • Over 1500 international students have completed enrolment for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Our teaching in the Spring Term (January-March) will be delivered online for all students, including those on a Student visa (previously Tier 4).
  • If it is safe for us to return to in-person teaching in the Summer Term (April-July), students who require a Student visa will be expected to return to class. If you do not wish to return to in-person classes, you will not be entitled to continuing visa sponsorship and will need to complete your studies online in your home country.
  • We will notify all students of any changes in advance.
  • Please visit our visa information page and  if you have specific queries.

Coronavirus symptoms and preventative measures

  • If you suspect that you have coronavirus symptoms, visit the NHS's online coronavirus service, which will tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do next.
  • To find out more about what you can do to help stop viruses like the coronavirus spreading, visit the NHS website.
  • Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus. 

Being respectful of others

  • The coronavirus is an international health issue and transcends ethnicity and nationality.
  • Where a member of the student community is harassed or intimidated in the name of the coronavirus, or indeed in any other issue, the College will treat any reports of harassment seriously and will investigate using College policy and procedure.
  • We are an inclusive learning community and in times of external challenge it is a time to support one another.

Contact information

  • If you are concerned about a student or member of staff, you can contact the College by logging a query on ASK.
  • If you are a student living in a University of London halls of residence, contact Residential.Life@london.ac.uk.
  • If you have a clear medical concern about yourself or someone else, use the NHS 111 online service.