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Coronavirus information

Taking care with COVID - what to expect on campus

Birkbeck’s 2021-22 learning environment

For the 2021-22 academic year, we’re planning on providing a combination of in-person teaching by world-class academics and high-quality online learning opportunities, creating an exceptional educational experience, while ensuring the safety of students.

For the 2021-22 academic year, you will benefit from:

  • A blend of in-person and online teaching with a focus on interactive learning, supported by high-quality digital learning materials.
  • A clear, consistent and easy to navigate virtual learning environment, designed with accessibility in mind, to improve the student experience.
  • With each programme of study providing a unique experience, discover indicative details about attendance requirements for your course.
  • Access to on-campus study spaces, the Birkbeck Library and its extensive collection of ebooks. Our buildings will have mitigations including good ventilation, a requirement to wear masks and strong encouragement to students and staff to be fully vaccinated.
  • A range of in-person and online student services to support you during your academic journey. These include study skills, student advice, careers services and disability, mental health and counselling support.    
  • Access to a range of financial support packages, including a digital learning fund.

Our main priority is the health and safety of our students and staff members. If government restrictions are reintroduced at any point in the year making in-person teaching no longer possible, then the College is well prepared to switch to teaching online with any in-person activity prioritised for practical subjects.

During 2020-21, we redesigned our programmes for the online environment to maintain student safety during the pandemic and they were rated highly by our students. Whatever happens with the pandemic over the course of the next year, we will continue to provide a high-quality educational experience and teaching by world-class academics that enable you to continue your studies with, and be a part of, the University of London.

The experienced academics who have designed your programme will be putting together the most appropriate mix of teaching modes for your subject and level. Your programme team will give you more detailed information during induction sessions about exactly what format the teaching and learning on your modules will take. Different departments will take different approaches, depending on the discipline and the content of the module; but in all departments there will be a mix of asynchronous material (including video recordings and interactive learning) and, crucially, live interaction with teaching staff. Asynchronous delivery is learning that you can engage with flexibly at a time that suits you. 

What to expect when you visit campus

The following actions are offered as part of our roadmap out of the pandemic and to allow us to return to more in-person teaching in the coming academic year. These apply to students, staff and visitors in College buildings.

  • We strongly encourage all members of the Birkbeck community, as a matter of priority, to take up the opportunity to get fully vaccinated if there is no medical reason for you not to. This is in your interest, the interest of the College and of the wider community. We aim for as many staff and students as possible to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the autumn term. You can book a vaccination appointment, or find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site.
  • All students, staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings while in campus buildings, unless you are exempt. Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn.
  • Birkbeck participates in the Sunflower lanyard scheme. Wearing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower discreetly indicates to people around the wearer including staff, colleagues and health professionals that they need additional support, help or a little more time. Sunflower lanyards are available to collect from all Birkbeck reception desks. 
  • We strongly encourage all students and staff on campus to self-test for COVID-19 twice per week, even if you are fully vaccinated and don’t have symptoms.
  • If displaying symptoms, you must self isolate and report self isolation in line with College requirements. Please visit My Birkbeck for details.
  • Vulnerable persons should continue to follow government guidance.
  • All teaching rooms have been assessed and are confirmed as appropriate areas of ventilation. A full audit of all ventilation has been completed and all central teaching spaces are either mechanically or naturally ventilated. Signage in all rooms will state the type of ventilation available.
  • There is an enhanced cleaning regime across the College in all communal areas.
  • There are hand-washing facilities across the College with sanitiser in every room. You may be asked to wipe keyboards down with hand wipes provided after use.
  • All student support services are available online and please consider if you need to commute to campus to talk to someone.
  • The Coronavirus Support App goes beyond coronavirus symptoms to help you manage many of the other challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, including money issues and mental health problems.
  • The Student Space includes guidance on how to stay well if you have to self isolate, and you may be eligible for the government's Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
  • The ground floor cafe and fifth floor eatery will be open. We'll also have a coffee cart outside the main building on Torrington Square at the start of term.

When visiting campus

  • Remember to bring a face covering.
  • Ensure you have your student card with you whenever you are on campus.
  • You should check your timetable and the campus map when coming onto campus so you know exactly where you plan to go. This will avoid congestion in communal areas of our buildings.
  • In the first week of term, we will have ambassadors outside the building to help direct you to your class. Please also follow the signage in the buildings and exit only through designated doors.
  • Whenever you attend a teaching event, please tap in to the e-register on the wall using your student card. We will continue to operate our own track and trace system, underpinned by our classroom attendance monitoring systems. 
  • Wear layers of clothing so you can stay comfortable: some rooms are naturally ventilated and windows will be open to allow air circulation. 
  • Use the hand sanitising units at the entrance to buildings and teaching spaces and wash your hands regularly.
  • Take the stairs if you can. Lifts have very limited capacity and we need to make sure that those who cannot take the stairs don’t have to wait too long. 
  • Do not stop in corridors or other communal areas within buildings. Leave teaching rooms and buildings as soon as your scheduled class has finished. If you have questions after a class, please raise them in office hours or via email and not in person following a lesson.
  • Do not move desks and tables in teaching rooms.
Together, we can reduce the spread of the virus in our buildings.

Birkbeck Library

The Library is open, with regular updates provided on the Library website.

The Library's full range of online services remains available and accessible, and this includes 180,000 ebooks and other online learning resources. All of these are available through the Library website. You can seek guidance from your Subject Librarian. The Library Chat facility is the easiest and quickest way to contact Library staff, although you can also email your question or raise an ASK query.  

You will need to wear a face mask while in the building (unless you are exempt). If you are exempt from wearing face coverings, you are invited to collect a free Sunflower Lanyard from any Birkbeck reception desk. 

Self isolating or positive Covid test

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

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

My exams and assessments

  • The College has developed remote and online assessments to replace most traditional exams during the autumn term. Online assessment details are provided in your Moodle modules.
  • The College has tried to make remote assessments as accessible and inclusive as possible, with provision for students studying in different time zones. If you have a study support plan or personal exam provision and need to discuss your adjustments, please contact the Disability and Dyslexia Service or the Mental Health Advisory Service.
  • Please continue to work on any coursework that has been set. You should submit your coursework in accordance with the instructions and deadlines provided by your department.

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.
  • Since May 2020, we have increased the frequency of meetings with PhD reps across the College in order to identify and address issues, with meetings taking place every four to six weeks.
  • Access to PhD supervision online has provided ongoing support with continuing research as well as support and advice about how to adapt to work where this is possible in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. All PhD students have been asked to maintain a record of how the pandemic has impacted on their research, and continue to discuss this at supervisory meetings.
  • A College-wide process has been established to enable PhD students to request up to six months extension to their thesis submission deadlines where needed, as a result of the pandemic. Where a thesis submission extension has required a self-funded student to enrol beyond four years full-time or seven years part-time study, a fee supported COVID extension has been provided, funded by a donor to the College. 
  • The College invited internally funded studentship holders to request fully costed extensions matched at the same level of support as for UKRI funded studentships. 
  • We have created new guidance for students, supervisors and examiners about the criteria for a PhD, research degree examination and outcomes. At the point of exam entry, students are invited to submit a brief form which allows them to summarize how their thesis has been impacted by COVID-19 so that examiners are made aware of the impact of the pandemic on the work. 
  • PhD students have been able to switch from full-time to part-time in order to continue their research at a lower intensity and where it has not been possible to continue with research standard College processes allow for students to take breaks in studies.

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

  • Our student services, including Careers, Study Skills, Wellbeing and Student Advice, are available to you virtually. We work closely with the Birkbeck Students' Union, who current students can also contact for support.
  • Students who are estranged from their families, or who are care leavers, are encouraged to get in touch with student services to explore the resource we have available and the financial support that you may be eligible for. 
  • Our Student Transition and Success schemes support students from under-represented backgrounds, including care leavers, and include meeting existing Birkbeck students who can provide advice and valuable insight linked to timely issues such as assessments and wellbeing.
  • Explore the resources available through BBK Futures to support immediate and longer-term career plans. 

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.
  • You can also view upcoming events in My Birkbeck.
  • Over 1500 international students completed enrolment for the 2020/21 academic year.
  • International students in the UK are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free. If you are asked for payment, please report this to us using the Ask system.  
  • We encourage international students to register with a GP and get an NHS number. 
  • If you have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine overseas, and are waiting for your second dose, you will receive the same vaccine for your second dose. If the vaccine you received for your first dose is not available in the UK, the NHS will offer you the most similar alternative. You should contact a GP to ensure you receive an appropriate vaccine for your second dose. 
  • Please visit our visa information page and  if you have specific queries.

Coronavirus symptoms and preventative measures

  • All adults aged 18 or over can now get vaccinated against COVID-19, and we encourage everyone in the Birkbeck community to ensure that they fully vaccinated.
  • 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.
  • If you come onto the Birkbeck campus, please take a coronavirus rapid lateral flow test twice a week and report your results online.

Being a member of the Birkbeck community

  • When you enrol as a student at Birkbeck, you become a member of Birkbeck's uniquely diverse community. Being a member of the Birkbeck Community reflects Birkbeck's ethos - we are all stewards of creating and maintaining this ethos and promoting understanding, inclusivity and equity through our commitment to learning. 
  • We are an inclusive learning community and in times of external challenge it is a time to support one another.
  • All students, staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings while in campus buildings, unless you are exempt. If you are exempt from wearing face coverings, you are invited to collect a free Sunflower Lanyard from any Birkbeck reception desk. 
  • 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.

Contact information