Student Advice


Last updated:  4 February 2021

If you are a student at USW, you can find additional advice and guidance on UniLife 

Covid-19 regulations and on-campus teaching

From Sunday 20 December, Wales entered alert level four. Everyone is advised to: 

  • Not mix with others outside of their household 
  • Not travel without reasonable excuse (travel to access education is permitted) 
  • Work from home if you can  
  • Hospitality sector is closed, except for takeaway and delivery  
  • Leisure and fitness facilities are closed  
  • Non-essential retail is also closed  

Level four allows higher education to continue with blended learning (mix of in-person and remote learning). Safety measures will continue to be in place on our campuses and everyone is encouraged to remain vigilant - follow social contact measures, socially distance, wear a face covering, and frequently wash / sanitise your hands. 

You can find more information about the different alert levels on the Welsh Government website

The Welsh Government has advised that higher education can continue during alert level four. We have been in ongoing discussions with the Welsh Government and with other universities in Wales about plans for returning to on-campus learning this term. All Welsh universities, including USW, have collectively made the difficult decision to continue to deliver the majority of teaching online until Easter.

Our plans to bring some more course provision back onto campus from 22 February will still continue, but this will now only be for a limited number of practical programmes which need access to specialist facilities to complete their learning outcomes this academic year. 

There will be some changes to access of our facilities and services:

  • Some catering facilities have reopened this term, although for takeaways only. 
  • Treforest Sports Centre is closed, and will remain so until the Covid-19 alert level is reduced from Alert Level 4
  • Our libraries have reopened with request and collect of books continuing, bookable study space available and access to free laptop loans. 

 

We have been in ongoing discussions with the Welsh Government and with other universities in Wales about plans for returning to on-campus learning this term. All Welsh universities, including USW, have collectively made the difficult decision to continue to deliver the majority of teaching online until Easter.

Our plans to bring some more course provision back onto campus from 22 February will still continue, but this will now only be for a limited number of practical programmes which need access to specialist facilities to complete their learning outcomes this academic year.

They will join a small number of courses that have continued to have on-campus learning throughout January, mainly for our health-related courses.

Your course teams will have updated you with the plans for your course, and if you will have any on-campus provision staggered from 22 February, or if your teaching will remain online only until Easter.

If you are currently residing away from USW, we would ask that you only return to your term-time address in line with when any on-campus provision starts for your course. Please ensure you return with enough time to take part in the on-campus asymptomatic Covid-19 testing, and have two tests three days apart, before you return to your on-campus provision. This will help to keep everyone as safe as possible. Please refer to your emails and UniLife for details of how to book your appointment. 

Yes, asymptomatic Covid-19 testing is available for students to book from Monday 4 January until Friday 26 February at our Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd campuses. You should book your first test as close as possible to the date you are returning to your term-time address. If you commute to university from home to one of our three campuses, you are also able to access testing, and you are particularly encouraged to do so if you are returning to campus for face-to-face learning during the first few weeks of term.  

You are advised to have two tests, three days apart. In between the two tests, you are encouraged to lay low. This means not mixing with other people as much as possible. 

If you choose not to take part in the testing, you are encouraged to self-isolate for 10 days on your return to your term-time accommodation. 

You can book your test appointments now - please refer to your emails and Unilife for details. 

Although additional measures have been introduced in other parts of the UK, if you are residing in any of the home nations, Welsh Government have confirmed that you are still able to move to your term-time accommodation in Wales or commute if you live in England, so that you can attend any on-campus provision in your timetable. 

We of course understand that some of you may wish to study remotely for the time-being and this is something that you will need to discuss with your course teams to see if that is possible for your progression on your particular course and year of study. 

Accommodation rebates

In light of the disruption to on-campus teaching, and the Welsh Government guidance for people to continue to work and study from home if they can, we have now reviewed the impact this will have on students in our University-owned accommodation in Treforest. We have decided to introduce a payment holiday on accommodation fees from Monday 4 January until Friday 12 February. A refund for those weeks will be provided to students who have already paid this year’s fees in full. An equivalent discount will be applied to the remaining instalment for all other students. We expect to process these transactions no later than 12 February. This payment holiday applies to all students in University-owned accommodation in Treforest, whether you are currently in residence or not.

If you have already paid this year’s accommodation fees in full, you will receive a refund via your original payment method for the accommodation fees from Monday 4 January to Friday 12 February. You will be contacted if any further details are required. If you pay your accommodation fees in instalments, an equivalent discount will be applied to the next instalment for this academic year. 

Yes, the payment holiday on accommodation fees from Monday 4 January to Friday 12 February applies to all students in University-owned accommodation in Treforest, whether you are currently in residence or not. A refund for those weeks will be provided to students who have already paid this year’s fees in full. An equivalent discount will be applied to the next instalment for all other students.

The rent rebate applies from Monday 4 January until Friday 12 February. You would be entitled to a rent rebate from the date your contract starts (and no earlier than Monday 4 January) until Friday 12 February. A refund for those weeks will be provided to students who have already paid this year’s fees in full. An equivalent discount will be applied to the next instalment for all other students.

The accommodation rebate applies for the period from Monday 4 January until Friday 12 February for all students who have contracts in place for our University-owned accommodation in Treforest during that time. If you had cancelled your contract before the start of the payment holiday period (before Monday 4 January), then unfortunately you won’t be eligible for the rebate.

Your health and wellbeing

Please follow the latest public health advice on the gov.uk website

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of: 

  • new continuous cough and/or 
  • high temperature 
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell 
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of taste 

You should:  

If you receive a positive test, please complete this online form and the Covid Welfare Team will contact you. You will also be contacted by the Track Trace and Protect Team

 – please give them the information they ask for, the team will also check your wellbeing. 

If you live in student halls of residence, please inform the Accommodation Office as soon as possible. Full guidance can be found here for protecting yourself and others self-isolating

If you live in an area that is experiencing a local Covid-19 outbreak and where local restrictions have been imposed, different guidance and legislation may apply. 

If your symptoms worsen and you need to seek  urgent medical help, please DO NOT visit your GP surgery or the hospital unless advised to do so. 

Telephone appointments to speak to a USW Nurse adviser are available and can be booked  via Advice Zone Online.  Please include your mobile number in the notes section of the online booking form. You should always keep your contact details up to date in case the University needs to contact you. 

If you need help with registering with a new GP surgery please go to https://health.southwales.ac.uk/register/ 

You can find out more about what you need to do on UniLife


Asymptomatic Covid-19 testing is available for students to book from Monday 4 January until Friday 26 February at our Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd campuses.

If you start to experience any symptoms of Covid-19, you should self-isolate and book a test through NHS Wales. There are a range of testing options for you to choose from, depending on where you live. The following are the nearest locations to our campuses.   

Cardiff 

  • There is a walk-through testing centre on Museum Avenue (this is near to the Cardiff University buildings in the city centre)  

  • There is a drive-through testing centre at Cardiff City Football Club in Leckwith  

Newport 

  • There is a testing facility at Rodney Parade - you can either drive-through or walk up  

Pontypridd (Treforest and Glyntaff)  

  • A walk-in testing centre is available in the student car park at our Treforest Campus.  

  • A drive-through testing facility is located at Abercynon Railway Station  

There are also mobile testing units which local health boards may choose to deploy in different locations.  

You can find more information about the location of testing facilities on the Welsh Government website

If you receive a positive test result, please let the University know as soon as possible by completing this online form.

 


Your health and wellbeing is our main priority. All students (new and returning) must read through the Individual Risk Assessment information and must inform the University if they identify as Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable or have a risk assessment score of four or above. You must inform the University by completing this form

If you need to self-isolate as you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or have been in contact with someone who has, then please inform your course leader if you are unable to attend any planned on-campus activity. 

If you need to, you can also apply for extenuating circumstances – the Advice Zone can help you with this. 

Your health and wellbeing is our main priority. All students (new and returning) must read through the Individual Risk Assessment information and must inform the University if they identify as Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable or have a risk assessment score of four or above. You must inform the University by completing this form

This will help the University to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to manage the risk before you attend campus. If you need to start your studies for the new term virtually, then the University will put provisions in place to enable this.  For courses where there are mandatory elements of practice or practical sessions, we will work with you to do all we can to make alternative arrangements where possible. 


In line with Welsh Government guidance, it is mandatory for face coverings to be worn indoors at all of our sites. 

They can be removed in teaching spaces if desired, where 2m social distancing is securely in place, and where PPE hasn’t been deemed mandatory for a specific task. Please be mindful of the interests of other people and if in doubt please wear a face covering. There will of course be some exemptions for people wearing face coverings, and this may be because of a physical or mental illness, or because of a disability or impairment. 

Whether somebody has a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering will not always be obvious. Students will of course not need to wear face coverings when they are in their own accommodation within University-owned halls of residence on our Treforest campus. Students will still need to wear them outside of their accommodation in shared facilities such as the laundry facilities. Where PPE is required, because of a specific task or because sufficient social distancing cannot be achieved, then clinical standard personal protective equipment will be issued after a relevant risk assessment of tasks has been carried out. 


Your Studies

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering our courses, research opportunities and other services as safely as possible. The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that we are having to make changes to the way in which we deliver our courses and services for the academic year 2020/2021.  

Your student experience is important to us and we have been working and continue to work to ensure your overall experience. We intend to deliver our courses in a blended format; with a proportion of the teaching and learning being delivered digitally, and where it is safe to do so, some teaching and learning being delivered in person and using social distancing and/or mitigating measures as deemed appropriate in line with government guidance. 

The nature and balance of learning and teaching methods and activities are sufficiently flexible to adapt and enable you to succeed in your studies. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. Please note that if you are hoping to join us to study from a country outside of the UK, your options/studies may also be impacted by Government guidelines or decisions of that country. 

Any changes to your course have been considered and approved through the University Quality Assurance processes, which include student and external scrutiny. If any further changes are necessary we will inform you at the earliest possible opportunity. 



All students (new and returning) must read through the Individual Risk Assessment information and must inform the University if they identify as Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable or have a risk assessment score of four or above. You must inform the University by completing this form. If you are unable to attend campus for any other reason, then you must also complete the same form.

If you need to start your studies for the new term virtually, then the University will put provisions in place to enable this.  For courses where there are mandatory elements of practice or practical sessions, we will work with you to do all we can to make alternative arrangements where possible.

We will be delivering a full and interactive blended teaching and learning experience and we will be supporting you with your studies. The blended learning approach that we will be providing, which includes a blend of virtual and on-campus delivery, will ensure you continue to receive good experiences and a high-quality education.  As a result, we will not be reducing our fees.



With a phased return to on-campus delivery for September, is it unlikely that the normal pattern of field trips will be possible during the academic year. No international field trips will take place until at least January 2021. However some UK field work may be possible if the safety of students and staff can be maintained, and if it complies with current Government guidance. Each field trip will be considered individually by the course teams to evaluate whether they will be possible later during the academic year, taking into consideration the wider situation with the Covid-19 pandemic at that time, as well Government guidelines, travel restrictions and social distancing protocols. 



International students

There may be reasons you are unable to return to the UK for the first term, for example because of government restrictions on travel or because of your health circumstances.

All students (new and returning) must read through the Individual Risk Assessment information and must inform the University if they identify as Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable or have a risk assessment score of four or above. You must inform the University by completing this form. If you are unable to attend campus for any other reason, then you must also complete the same form.

If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, then you must also inform the Tier 4 Administration Team in Academic Registry, whether you intend to return to the UK or not, by completing this form

If you need to start your studies for the new term virtually, then the University will put provisions in place to enable this.  For courses where there are mandatory elements of practice or practical sessions, we will work with you to do all we can to make alternative arrangements where possible. However, please note that whilst we will endeavour to make alternative arrangements, by not attending the sessions you may miss specific learning experiences. This may mean that you are not able to complete your course within the length of your visa and may need to extend it in the future. If you have any queries in relation to your visa please contact our Immigration and International Student Advice team

If you are currently based in the UK, or will be by the start of term, the expectation is that you will engage with any on-campus delivery of your course. 

There may be reasons you are unable to return to campus for the first term, for example because of government restrictions on travel or because of your health circumstances.

All students (new and returning) must read through the Individual Risk Assessment information and must inform the University if they identify as Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable or have a risk assessment score of four or above. You must inform the University by completing this form. If you are unable to attend campus for any other reason, then you must also complete the same form.

If you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, then you must also inform the Tier 4 Administration Team in Academic Registry whether you intend to return to campus or not, by completing this form

If you need to start your studies for the new term virtually, then the University will put provisions in place to enable this. For courses where there are mandatory elements of practice or practical sessions, we will work with you to do all we can to make alternative arrangements where possible, if you are unable to come to campus to attend these. However, please note that whilst we will endeavour to make alternative arrangements, by not attending the session you may miss specific learning experiences. This may mean that you are not able to complete your course within the length of your visa and may need to extend it in the future. If you have any queries in relation to your visa please contact our Immigration and International Student Advice team.  

The UK Government has introduced a 10-day self-isolation period for individuals arriving in the UK from certain countries. Details of countries exempt from self-isolation are detailed here.

These measures will be reviewed every three weeks and we do not know how long they will be in place. We are therefore advising all new and returning international students who believe they may need to self-isolate to plan to fly back to the UK two weeks prior to the start of term.

It is important to say that the UK Government’s approach to self-isolation is different from that of some other countries. Currently, on arrival, Government advice indicates that you will be asked to complete a form providing your contact details and travel information before being asked to self-isolate in your planned accommodation for 10 days. This means you will be able to travel to your accommodation and self-isolate either in University halls or in your own private accommodation, depending on which you have booked for the coming year. The Government have confirmed that they will carry out some spot checks to ensure self-isolation is being carried out and penalties will be in place for those who do not comply.

Throughout the self-isolation period, we will be here to support you. For those of you booked to live in University halls, we will support you with accessing supplies. You will also have check-in chats and the Halls Life Student Experience team and Immigration and International Student Advice (IISA) and Student Support will be on hand for further support.

If you are required to self-isolate upon arrival, we will advise you to travel to the UK two weeks before the start of term. We will contact you over the summer with information about self-isolation and how to book a self-isolation assistance package with Accommodation.

IISA are constantly reviewing the self-isolation requirements. If you have any questions about self-isolation, please contact IISA at international.advice@southwales.ac.uk

Further information is also available here

If you are a current student who is unable to return to the UK in September due to Government restriction on travel and/or personal reasons, you will need to contact the IISA team, for advice on your individual situation.

If you are a new student at USW, please be assured we are continuing to prepare to welcome our new students in September 2020. If you decide to study on campus, we will issue CAS for your Tier 4 visa as soon as Visa Application Centres open and travel restrictions are lifted.

If you choose to study at a distance for your course, our admissions and faculty teams will provide information on study and enrolment to you directly.

If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 4, or another type of visa, and wish to start a course at the University please contact our IISA team, either by email, on the Ask an Adviser service, or call +44 (0)1443 482083, for advice and support on your individual situation and circumstances.

Please be assured you will not be required to scan your finger to confirm your attendance and engagement. 

Your engagement will be monitored through your online engagement with your course and assessment submission.    




EU citizens, non-EU EEA, Swiss citizens and their eligible family members who are in the UK after the 31 December 2020 will need to have immigration permission. This will either need to be under the EU Settlement Scheme or under the immigration rules which will be in place from 1st January 2021.

Whether you are a new or returning student from the EU, as long as you have proof you entered the UK before 31st December 2020 (this could be flight tickets, landing cards, tenancy agreements or student status letter) then you can still apply for the EU Settlement Scheme inside or outside the UK as long as you do so before 30th June 2021.

Even if you have a documented right of permanent residence under EU law, you will still need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, or via another immigration route, before the end of the transition period, as the right of permanent residence will no longer be recognised after the transitional period.

Remember the IISA team can assist and advise on all applications, in the UK or Overseas.  Please contact the team, either by email, on the Ask an Adviser service, or by phone on +44 (0)1443 482083, for advice and support on your individual circumstances and application.



Postgraduate Research Students

You can find a comprehensive list of FAQs for Postgraduate Research Students on the Graduate School website.

 

New students

Please refer to the FAQs for applicants and new students here.


Accommodation

We have no more than six students in each of our flats, which are classed as one household. When local restrictions are in place, students are unable to meet with anyone outside of this household. If someone within that flat becomes unwell and tests positive, everyone within that household needs to self-isolate.

If students need to self-isolate, then our accommodation team is on-hand to support them, including to access food supplies, should they need support accessing any. Outside of their flats, students must wear face coverings in all indoor public places, including in some of the shared areas such as the laundry facilities, and students must maintain two-metre social distancing at all times with anyone who doesn’t live with them.

If you are living in Treforest halls of residence and are self-isolating, please contact the accommodation team on 01443 482845, who are available 24 hours a day, so they can offer any support that you may need.  

There are a number of meal plans available, should you wish to use them. This includes the provision of daily hot meals through a short-term catered meal plan. There are also a number of supermarkets offering home delivery and essential food boxes, which contain a selection of essential items. 

Essential maintenance will still be provided for students who are self-isolating, please just email hallsmaintenance@southwales.ac.uk and let us know that you are self-isolating and whether you or any of your flat mates have symptoms.  Our maintenance staff will call you ahead of their visit and ask you to wait in the kitchen, while they carry out the work. 

The accommodation team are providing a rubbish removal service for self-isolating flats. Please email hallsmaintenance@southwales.ac.uk to request this and to ask for new bin liners/recycling bags etc. If you need to do your laundry whilst you are self-isolating, please call 01443 482845 and the accommodation team will arrange a date/time slot for you to use the laundry facilities.  

If you are staying with a private halls of residence, please let your accommodation helpdesk team know of your situation and they will advise you of the support they can offer whilst you self-isolate. Please phone them on the number you will have been provided at check in.

You can find additional information and support about self-isolating on UniLife.

Student Finance

The Student Money Advice Team is continuing to offer guidance and support  to students through Advice Zone Online, by email, and telephone appointments.

Telephone appointments are available Monday - Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Please include your mobile number in the notes section of the online booking form.



The Government has issued advice and support for individuals affected by Covid-19. There is guidance is available on:

The StudentMoney Advice Team may be able to offer further information and assistance.



You can contact the Revenue department if you would like to discuss making changes to your current payment plan.


The Student Loan Company has published information for students here

Undergraduate students can apply/reapply for funding for the 2020/21 academic year.

You can find all of the latest information about the Student Loan Company on the gov.uk website and on the Welsh Government website



Support Services


All of our Support Services can be contacted via Advice Zone Online and queries will be responded to between the usual opening hours of 8.30am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. 


Many of our facilities and support services are available on campus during the first term.  


The University Chaplains are available to offer support to all students and staff. To speak to the chaplaincy during office hours, please ring 01443 654060. To contact them outside of this time, please ring 03455 760101. Your contact details will be taken, and a chaplain will phone you back. You can also speak to a Chaplain via Skype – to request an individual Skype call or join the Chaplaincy Skype group email, please contact vaughan.rees@southwales.ac.uk



Work-based placements

The health and safety of our students and staff is the University’s main concern and we are closely following the advice of the government and the professional body regulators for our courses, where applicable.  Course and faculty teams are monitoring the individual placements on a daily basis, and are working closely with students and employers. We know that employers will also be carefully considering this advice and will wherever possible, be looking for their staff to work remotely. 

Employers may therefore choose to end or postpone short, curriculum-based placements. These work placements are being managed by individual course leaders, with alternative arrangements being developed to recognise work-based learning credits, should these placements not be possible in the current climate. 



These are exceptional circumstances and the University does not want you to be disadvantaged by things which are beyond your control. Your course leaders and course teams are developing alternative arrangements to recognise work-based learning credits, where necessary in discussions with professional bodies, and these will be communicated to students individually based on their individual circumstance. 


These are exceptional circumstances and the University does not want you to be disadvantaged by things which are beyond your control.  Your course leaders and course teams have developed alternative arrangements to recognise work-based learning credits, where necessary in discussions with professional bodies, and these will be communicated to students individually based on their individual circumstance. Please contact your course leader to find out how this will affect you. 


We would encourage you to follow the latest public health advice, around social distancing, and self-isolation. If you are unable to attend your placement, please let your host-organisation/company and your course leader know.  

The health and safety of our students and staff is our main concern and we are closely following the advice of government.  Employers will also be carefully considering this advice and will wherever possible, be looking for their staff to work remotely. Employers may therefore choose to end or postpone short, curriculum-based placements. These work placements are being managed by individual course leaders, with alternative arrangements being developed to recognise work-based learning credits, should these placements not be possible in the current climate. 



During your sandwich placement, you are an employee of your host organisation and you should follow their advice and guidance.  

All employers will be paying careful attention of the advice of the relevant government and either requiring their staff to work remotely or ensuring that their workplace is safe. 

Following Government advice by nation 
As of May 2020, there is now some difference in advice between the UK Government for England and that of the devolved governments in WalesScotland and Northern Ireland  

 So depending on where your placement is based you will need to consider the appropriate advice. Especially around travel to and from your place of work, should this be across borders, or outside of the area where you live. 

What to do if you are unwell or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms 
We would encourage you to follow the latest public health advice, around social distancing, and self-isolation should you have an underlying health condition or a high temperature and/or persistent cough.  

If you are unable to attend your placement, please contact your line manager at your place of employment, and follow your employer’s sickness absence procedures.  

Help and support 
If you have any queries or concerns which you are unable to resolve by speaking to your employer, please speak to your course leader or USW Careers Work Placement Partner, who will try their best to help you. 

To contact the USW Careers Team, please visit: https://careers.southwales.ac.uk 



Students’ Union

For a full list of FAQs about the Students’ Union, please visit their website.