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End of term update

Students may be aware from reports in the media that the Government announced plans last week to ensure higher education students who live away from home during term time can return home safely for the Christmas break. In order for this to happen, they are stating that face-to-face teaching must finish by Tuesday 8 December to allow time for students to receive Covid-19 tests, with any students testing positive being able to serve the required self-isolation period before they travel home.

Unfortunately we have not yet received information on how the testing process will work, or where tests will be available for any UCEN Manchester students who live away from home. As such, at this stage, we are unable to provide with you as much detail as we would ideally like to – for the simple reason that it has not yet been provided to us.

However, we understand that this uncertainty might be causing you concern and worry, so we wanted to write to you to provide an update on our current plans and intentions.

Students living away from home

For those of you living away from home during term time in student accommodation or elsewhere, we wanted to reassure you that we are currently working on plans to move your learning online from Tuesday 8 December. This will allow sufficient time for you to receive a Covid-19 test, and then return home (with time built in for any self-isolation required). At the time of writing we do not know any details about plans for providing you with a test but we are working hard to get information as quickly as possible.

Your course tutor will be in touch with you to provide more details about your course delivery, so please rest assured that you will not be disadvantaged by this early end to face to face learning. Hopefully you will appreciate that we have taken this decision in line with the current Government advice to enable students to return home as safely as possible.

If you had assessments planned on site for during the final weeks of term, we will ensure that alternative plans are put in place. Again, these plans will be shared with you by your tutors. We are committed to ensuring that these changes are not detrimental to your progress on the course.

Students living at home

For those of you who live at your primary residence during term time, we are exploring a variety of options including continuing with face to face delivery as planned or moving learning online from Tuesday 8 December. We are assessing a number of factors currently that will inform our decision, however your health, safety and wellbeing will remain our number one priority.

We know that there are some UCEN Manchester courses where the majority of students are what the Government are calling commuter students (i.e. travel in from their primary residence to study with us), and some courses conversely that comprise entirely of students who live away from home.

Our decision on which courses continue to be delivered face-to-face and those that move to remote learning will take this into account. If you live away from home and did not provide a term-time address, please let us know so we can update your details and support you to move to remote learning from 8 December.

Any change to the delivery method for your course will be communicated to you by the department in which you study.

Available support

We fully appreciate that many of you may be finding things difficult in the current circumstances. There remains a lot of uncertainty and we are trying to get the information you need to provide clarity. As such I wanted to remind you of the support that is available to you.

  • There is wide range of free welfare support available via our Future U student support service. Future U can support you with any queries, concerns or issues you have with accommodation, finance and general welfare. You can contact them via email - careers&welfare@ucenmcr.tmc.ac.uk - or phone 03333 222 444 and request to speak to them.
  • For general information, advice and motivation you can also visit our #InThisTogether Hub where you’ll find a range of resources to help you look after yourself and stay motivated as well as further information on managing stress and links to external resources you may find useful.
  • Access to our PAM Assist service. PAM Assist is a free and confidential life management and personal support service that is available to you on an entirely self-referral basis. There is no need to sign up or register or seek approval first, just call 0808 196 3533 or contact www.pamassist.co.uk. This is a 24/7 helpline. Username: Student. Password: Student1.

Should you have any concerns, challenges, or suggestions on how we can improve our offer and delivery please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Future U team or your course tutor and we will endeavor to take every possible step to help.

Maintaining a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment

We understand - and share – your frustrations that these plans have been announced at such short notice and apologise for any inconvenience they may cause. Please understand though that we have to adopt government guidance as and when it is issued to us.

However, fundamentally this is about ensuring that those students who live away from home can return safely to enjoy the festive period with their families.

We fully appreciate that these are challenging and worrying times but please rest assured that we are taking every step possible to maintain a welcoming and safe learning environment on site whilst also ensuring that your studies can continue remotely where required.

Next steps

We will be in contact with those of you who live away from home with details of how/when Covid-19 tests are to be available to you as soon as we hear from the Government on this point. We will also let you know how the Government plans to manage the transition back to your studies in January 2021 when we receive this information, and how we can support you in the return.

In the meantime, your tutors/departments will be in touch with you with information on any changes to the delivery on your course from 8 December 2020.

As ever, thank you for your continued dedication to your education in these extremely challenging, and unprecedented, circumstances.

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