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Coronavirus information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) status at Birkbeck

We look forward to welcoming you to the Birkbeck community in October. We recognise that many students, and their families, may have questions about the impact of the coronavirus.  

Birkbeck has been delivering accessible and flexible, world-leading education for almost 200 years and we are looking forward to bringing you an outstanding learning experience in 2020-21. We will begin this academic year differently because of COVID-19, but we have not compromised our academic standards, nor the quality of our learning opportunities. You will enjoy an excellent Birkbeck learning experience and graduate with a prestigious University of London degree that is valued around the world.

High-quality online learning

The health and wellbeing of our students and staff members remains our top priority. COVID-19 has brought uncertainty into all of our lives with government guidance changing on a weekly basis. Birkbeck aims to mitigate the adverse effects of this uncertainty by ensuring that high-quality online learning and teaching will be available throughout the academic year. You can read about how we have approached this in the Vice Chancellor's welcome and in the Academic Registrar’s blog post. In addition, on-campus learning and teaching will be scheduled as and when possible, and our facilities will be opening within the constraints of government guidance.

Orientation and start of year

The new Welcome to Birkbeck 2020-21 Moodle course is now available to all enrolled students. The orientation module provides key information such as how to approach learning online and effective study skills, along with introductions to the Birkbeck student community, the personal tutor system, student services, careers support and the Birkbeck Library.

Alongside the Moodle resources, the Get Ahead Stay Ahead 2020 (GASA) study skills sessions run throughout September. The workshops are primarily intended for students new to Birkbeck but are also open to returning students. Book via your My Birkbeck page or via the Birkbeck events web page. Recordings of the sessions are available from the Birkbeck Study Skills Moodle module.

The Birkbeck Students’ Union have launched their Welcome Week programme for new and returning students.

The Virtual Annual Careers Fair will run on Saturday 7 November and is now open for bookings.

Option to complete the academic year fully online

We are guaranteeing that if you start the academic year with us then you will be able to complete it via high-quality online learning. We hope that you will also be able to access as many of our campus facilities as COVID-19 constraints allow. This balanced approach safeguards your educational experience and ensures that you could engage with the Birkbeck community if you were placed in local lockdown, required to self-isolate, needing to shield from the coronavirus or unable to travel to the Birkbeck estate. This will also ensure continuity of your studies if your personal or professional circumstances are affected or change.

Campus events and teaching

The College will be continuing to monitor government guidance on social distancing for campus events and teaching. This means that at the start of the academic year most of your learning will be conducted online with additional campus activities where possible. The latter will normally be on a voluntary basis. However, a few of our courses incorporate an obligatory practice-based component such as laboratory sessions or field trips, which means students would need to attend some teaching events physically in order to complete the year. Departments will write to students separately to explain the arrangements for these courses.

The library and study spaces

Birkbeck is committed to providing a safe environment while you study and use facilities in the Library. From Monday 14 September, the College Library in Malet Street will have almost 200 study spaces available for student use. The Library will be open from Monday to Friday from 12pm-7pm. To visit the Library, you will need to book a study space in advance and to come in to borrow items. There will be no access to the Library without a booking. Make sure you read the student protocol for attending the Library before you travel.  

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

Online learning resources, student support services and social networking events 

We will be providing a blend of virtual and interactive classes and an excellent range of online learning resources in the Autumn Term. Our globally recognised academic staff members and digital education experts have been collaborating over the summer to transform our virtual learning environment to ensure you receive the highest quality intellectual experience. Delivered by our inspirational teaching staff, our classes will provide a wealth of opportunities to discuss your ideas face-to-face online with your tutors and fellow students. 
 
Our virtual classrooms will be 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 will also have access to a full range of student support services, and a calendar of social networking events available on our Bloomsbury campus in the heart of London.

Virtual learning technology requirements 

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. 

Prospective students, applicants and offer holders

  • Following guidance from UCASUniversities UK and the Department for Education, we are working hard to ensure that no one misses out on the chance to study with us in October.
  • Applications, open events and term dates
  • UK/EU applicants and offer holders
    • Cancelled exams: We are working hard to ensure that no one misses the chance to study with us. If you have selected Birkbeck as your firm choice and are awaiting exam results, please be assured that you will receive fair and equal consideration, and places will not be confirmed on a first-come-first-served basis. We will let you know when we have more information, and how we might adjust our processes to allow for the situation.
    • Grade calculation: The UK Government and examination bodies have confirmed the processes that will be used to calculate grades this year. Grades will be just as valid as in previous years, and will be based on teacher assessments and other evidence.
    • Conditional offers: If you hold a conditional offer and you don't meet your conditions, we have a process in place to consider more than just your exam results and will do all we can to support you. You will not automatically be unsuccessful.
    • Student finance: You can apply for student finance during the lockdown. If you have any queries on how to apply, contact our Student Advice Service team.
  • International applicants and offer holders
    • Visa delays: If your visa application centre is closed and processing may not be completed in time, we can make adjustments if you need to arrive late.
    • Passport and visa condition: If you are required to present your passport and visa in person and have not yet done so, please  instead, while our Student Advice Service is closed.
    • Tuition fee deposit and CAS: There is no set deadline for paying your tuition fee deposit. We will issue your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) once we know whether the academic year will begin in person or online - they are normally issued from mid-June.
    • Further information: We will soon be sending out a list of frequently asked questions for international students by email. If these do not answer your queries, please .
  • More information is available on our offer holder pages. In the meantime, stay safe and please  if you have any questions.

My studies

  • The Autumn Term will begin on 5 October 2020. We will continue to support your studies in the following ways:
    • We are guaranteeing that if you start the academic year with us then you will be able to complete it via high quality online learning. We hope though that you will also be able to access as much of our campus facilities as COVID-19 constraints allow. This balanced approach safeguards your educational experience and ensures that you could engage with the Birkbeck community if you were placed in local lockdown, required to self-isolate, needing to shield from the coronavirus or unable to travel to the Birkbeck estate. This will also ensure continuity of your studies if your personal or professional circumstances are affected or change.
    • If you have a study-related question for a lecturer, please email them. If your question is for an administrator, please use the ASK system to get in touch.
    • Departmental administrative teams are offering support online, and are not available for face-to-face or phone enquiries at this time.
    • Please continue to use the wellbeing self-help resources available on our student services website.
    • We recommend that you use our Studiosity service, located in My Birkbeck, to support your assignment submission preparations. Please note that you are not allowed to use Studiosity for take-home exams.
    • Learning Development staff are available to help you with your assignments and with preparation for your take-home exam, although they are not allowed to help you during the actual exam itself. Live online workshops are available to support you to study at home.
    • Your feedback is particularly important to help us understand what has worked well and how to make further improvements. Please complete the surveys sent to you, and provide feedback through your lecturers, student representatives and through the Students' Union.
  • If you are concerned about the impact of absence on your studies, 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.

My exams and assessments

  • The College has developed alternative assessments to replace traditional exams, and these are explained in your Moodle modules. 
  • The College has tried to make alternative assessments as accessible and inclusive as possible. If you have a study support plan or personal exam provision and need to discuss your adjustments, please email the  or the .
  • Please continue to work on any coursework that has been set. You should submit this in accordance with the instructions and deadlines provided by your department.
  • Many courses will require you to submit your assignment, exam or alternative assessment electronically via Moodle. A typed essay will be easy to submit from a laptop or PC, but if you don't have a laptop or PC at home, you can scan handwritten documents using your phone's camera and an app such as Office Lens. This is also a useful way to capture mathematical workings, drawings and graphs for inclusion in 'electronic' exam papers. A user guide for using mobile devices for assessment is provided in the Learning Online area of Moodle.
  • Dissertations and research projects: If your research involves participant interaction, it is essential that either the participant interaction is made remote or that the research is paused or changed. The College expects that most undergraduate and postgraduate taught students will continue to use approaches that do not need remote participant involvement as the lockdown is eased. Please discuss with your supervisor if your research changes as the restrictions are eased. You will not be penalised for changing your methodological approach. See full details of the change to research project regulations.
  • We encourage you to complete your dissertation if you can. You are almost at the end of your programme of study and if you are able to complete your dissertation you will have achieved your University of London award this year. This then keeps you on track for the next stage in your career or personal development plans. In terms of fees, we will ensure you are not penalised as a result of disruption by COVID-19.

No detriment policy and mitigating circumstances

  • Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, we have implemented 'no detriment policies' for assessment submissions and developed new student guidance. We have amended our mitigated circumstances processes and created a new online mitigating circumstances form. These are key adaptations made to support students during these difficult times.
  • No detriment policies: All exams scheduled for next term will take place as alternative assessments online. We would encourage you to complete these if at all possible. The details of your alternative assessments will be communicated to you by your department. The College has approved no detriment policies to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged for attempting an assessment during this period.
  • The widespread stress and disruption will be taken into account throughout the whole of our assessment and examining process in 2020. The details of how this will work are outlined in the no detriment policy for coursework and the no detriment policy for PGT dissertations and major projects.
  • Mitigating circumstances: As the COVID-19 outbreak is having an impact on everyone, the no detriment policy will be applied automatically to all students who attempt an assessment and submit on time this year. 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 using our new online form.
  • Please visit the links below and read the information carefully:

Parents and carers

  • Many students are parents of school-aged children and have had to take on home schooling while also juggling work and study.
  • The Mental Health Foundation have advice on parenting during lockdown.

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.
  • Student loans
  • Birkbeck financial support
    • You may be eligible for financial support through the Birkbeck Needs-Based Assessment (BNBA) fund, which can help with study costs incurred by the COVID-19 situation.
    • Standard and non-standard (hardship) awards will be available during 2020-21.
    • If you need help with your application, or have a query, please contact our Student Advice Service.
  • Benefits
    • Full-time students are not normally entitled to benefits, but under certain circumstances you can claim. Find out if you qualify.
    • Part-time students are entitled to benefits, but your income (including maintenance loan) is considered. If you are on a low income, have had your work reduced, or have lost your job due to COVID-19, you may be able to claim benefits such as Universal Credit.
    • Check your benefit entitlement.
    • Support schemes if you are in employment
      • You should work from home unless it is impossible for you to do so. Certain jobs require people to travel to their workplace - such as machine-based, construction or manufacturing work, or delivering frontline services.
      • Job Retention Scheme: If you and your employer both agree, they might be able to keep you on the payroll by putting you on furlough. This is possible if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do.
      • The government has confirmed that Statutory Sick Pay is available for reasons relating to COVID-19.
      • Support schemes if you are self-employed or a business owner
        • Council tax
          • Many councils are offering to help residents struggling to pay their council tax as a result of COVID-19. This is being done on a council-by-council basis, so for full details you’ll need to contact your local authority.
          • If you are a full-time student, you are eligible for a full council tax exemption or partial reduction, depending on your living situation. You may also be eligible for exemption if you are a part-time student, but this will depend on the course you are studying.
          • Speak to our Student Advice Service to discuss your eligibility and obtain an exemption letter.
        • Emergency budgeting
        • Jobs and career

        Wellbeing

        Student services and library

        • Student services remain available. We work closely with the Birkbeck Students' Union, who current students can also contact for support.
        • Many of our students balance their studies with other commitments, such as work or looking after children or other relatives. We are determined to ensure that they, like all our students, are supported to continue their studies. 
        • Library:
          • We are pleased to announce that from Monday 14 September, the Library will reopen its space for use by Birkbeck students, staff and alumni. Opening hours will be Monday to Friday, 12pm-7pm.
          • To visit the Library, you will need to book a study space in advance. You can also use this link to make a booking if you simply want to come in and borrow items. There will be no access without a booking.
          • You can book a study space up to two days in advance of your visit. This means that bookings for Monday cannot be made until Saturday 12 September. 
          • A range of safety measures are in place inside the Library:
            • The number of study spaces has been reduced by over 50% to ensure social distancing is possible at all times. 
            • Computer users will collect a keyboard and mouse at the Library entrance, to use during their visit. 
            • All users will be expected to wear masks throughout their visit (unless they have a medical exemption). 
            • There will be a cleaner on site at all times.
          • Our main enquiry service will continue to be delivered online via chat and email.  Library staff who are present in the building will only offer limited assistance. Printing will not be available. 
          • Since the Library will be open, we are no longer offering a click-and-collect service. However, we will continue to offer a click-and-post service to library users who do not wish to travel to central London. Birkbeck students, staff and alumni can therefore continue to order up to five books at a time.  
          • It is no longer necessary to contact us in advance if you only wish to return items. These can be left on a marked trolley immediately outside the Library. Items will not be taken off your account immediately, as it is recommended to quarantine books for 72 hours. Alternatively, you can continue to post items back to us at the following address: BOOK RETURNS, The Library, Birkbeck, University of London Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX. 
        • Accommodation:
        • Careers Service:
          • We continue to provide a fully online service to support you with every step of your career.
          • Log in to your online careers portal in My Birkbeck, where you can:
            • upload your CV and receive instant feedback with CV360 (via the 'Tools' tab)
            • book a virtual one-to-one appointment with a career consultant (phone or video)
            • complete a tailored programme based on your career stage (early stage, career changer, established career).
          • We are also supporting students to start or scale a business.  to book a one-to-one phone/online appointment to discuss your business idea and available support.
          • You can view our live careers and enterprise workshops on the careers and enterprise events page.
        • Talent (recruitment service):
          • We are operating fully online - you can access your online Talent portal to upload your CV and apply for roles via My Birkbeck.
          • If you have suitable skills for one of our roles, we will refer you for remote CV sessions with Alumni or the Careers Team.
          • If you are selected for an interview for a role, your mock interview will happen remotely - over the phone or online. We will contact you with details.
          • For more information, visit our Talent web pages or .
        • Study skills:
          • You can access writing feedback and online tutoring via Studiosity in My Birkbeck, and we strongly encourage you to use this.
          • You can access live online study skills workshops, activities, links and one-to-one online appointments in the Study Skills Moodle module.
        • Student Advice Service:
          • Our face-to-face services are closed, but we are still available to answer your queries online or on the phone.
          • Please use our ASK system, or check Instagram or Twitter for updates.
          • If you need to submit funding application documents, please .
        • Mental Health Advisory Service:
          • We are offering a limited service via email. Please email your adviser direct, or mentalhealth@bbk.ac.uk.
          • In emergency, please speak to your GP, your local A&E or the NHS mental health services.
        • Disability and Dyslexia Service:
          • Contact your specialist adviser for email, phone or video advice.
          • Please complete the online assessment set by your department. If your adjustments are not in place, please contact your department to make alternative arrangements.
          • To submit a Disabled Students' Allowance application form and/or medical evidence, email disability@bbk.ac.uk.
        • Counselling Service:
          • We are offering a video appointment service for study stress during working hours. We also recommend our self-help resources.
          • In emergency, please speak to your GP, your local A&E, the Samaritans (116 123), or the NHS mental health services.
        • Fees payment:
          • Although you are not currently able to pay your fees in person or over the phone, you can still pay online via My Birkbeck. Monthly direct debits will be collected as normal. If you are having problems paying your fees, contact the Income team.

        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 through these difficult times.
        • 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.
        • We have arranged a number of adjustments to support our research students:
          • PhD students in years 3-4 full time (5-7 part time) can request a six-month extension to their thesis submission deadline. Students at earlier stages can request COVID-19 extensions when they reach that point in their studies.
          • Birkbeck will provide up to six months' funded extensions for College-funded students, in line with UKRI-funded studentships.
          • Students submitting for upgrade from MPhil to PhD are entitled to a minimum three-month extension if required. Departments are being asked to arrange these for all relevant students.
          • Schools and Departments have been asked to consider how any unspent (student) conference or training budget could be used to support PhD students affected by COVID-19.

        TRAVEL

        International students

        • Birkbeck attracts students from over 100 different countries, all of whom contribute to the vibrant community at the College. We understand that during this current situation, these students have specific concerns that are different to students from the UK. Much of the information below applies only to those who hold a Tier 4 visa who have certain regulatory requirements, but it will also be helpful to non-Tier 4 students.
        • Tier 4 students can continue to receive Tier 4 sponsorship while studying online, provided they regularly engage in their studies. 
        • UK Visas and Immigration have issued guidance for international students who are unable to extend their visa. If you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, please .
        • Please visit our visa information page for the most up-to-date information.
        • We understand that this is a difficult and stressful time for those who have remained in the UK, away from home, but also for those who are back home and feeling isolated from their previous community. A series of online and offline extracurricular events are published on the International web page
        • You may also find the guidance from UKCISA useful.
        • Birkbeck is an inclusive learning community and we treat any reports of harassment or intimidation in the name of the coronavirus very seriously. If you feel that you have experienced harassment within the College please get in touch and we will investigate using College policy and procedure.
        • If you have returned to your home country and have not informed us, please get in touch to let us know by submitting an ASK query.

        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.

        Staying up to date