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Latest news about the Birmingham 'Areas of Intervention

The Government has annouced that Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull have become 'areas of intervention' in response to the increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the region and in order to help control the spread of the virus.

Whilst additional local restrictions have been put in place, with effect from Tuesday 15 September, educational establishments are exempt from these and term will start as planned on 21 September, for new students and 28 September for returning students.

You can find more information in our FAQs below where you see this icon au-coronavirus-icon

If you have coronavirus symptoms:

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

Get a test now

Do not leave home/accommodation or flat for at least 10 days after your test

We're working hard to get everything ready for the start of term and look forward to welcoming you back to your studies whether online or face-to-face. We know that many of you may also be affected in your personal lives as well as your studies. If you need advice on health and emotional support, please our health advice page.

You can also get general support from The Hub or by contacting us.

Aston Together

We’re proud of our Aston University community and how we look after each other. We have never needed each other more than we do today. Help us to help each other by being considerate to others and behaving appropriately at all times. By working together we can all help to make Aston a safer place.

Together we ask that you:

Be respectful

Show consideration towards other students, staff and visitors. Respect those whose personal circumstances differ from yours, and who may need to adopt different safety measures.

World Health Organisation

Be observant

Follow guidance on social distancing and health and safety measures, and adhere to signage and instructions around campus to maximise the safety of yourself and others who are sharing space with you.

Be kind

Be kind

Show empathy towards others and be supportive to those in need. Offer friendship, be inclusive, and speak out to a member of the Aston team if you think someone needs assistance.

If you show Covid-19 symptoms, follow Government guidance to self-isolate, get tested and inform us via Covid19Reporting@aston.ac.uk

Key points

  • There will be no teaching of large scale lectures on campus until January 2021 at the earliest

  • All assessments will continue to be conducted online until January 2021 at the earliest. See our detriment policy.
  • If your course has a compulsory attendance element you may need to be on campus in accordance with professional regulatory body requirements. Find out more information.
  • The library building is now open for students to undertake private study and collect books.
  • Access to research labs is available by prior authorisation. Conference Aston Hotel and the University nursery are open for business.
  • The advice from Public Health England is that the overall risk to the population is at "Level 3 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation)". 
  • Aston has a team who is closely monitoring and managing the situation and is acting on advice of Public Health England, Universities UK and the NHS. 
  • We will be updating this advice as new Government and Public Health England guidance emerges.
  • For any general student queries or queries about teaching, assessments and exams please contact us.
  • For absences and visa queries please contact engagement.

Exemption cards

If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, please download our exemption card. Please ensure this is visible either on a wearing lanyard or available to show via your phone, plastic wallets will be available to collect from main reception so that you can attach to your lanyard.

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Quick menu

Staying safe au-coronavirus-icon

I have heard about the new Birmingham restrictions. Will I still be able to come to University?
Whilst additional local restrictions have been put in place, with effect from Tuesday 15 September, educational establishments are exempt from these and term will start as planned on 21 September, for new students; and 28 September for returning students 
Do I need to wear a face covering?
Face coverings are expected to be worn inside all university buildings, including circulation spaces, shared spaces, corridors, stairs, lifts and toilets. Student ID cards have had a token added to them for you to collect a complimentary pack from Café Tierra. 
I am exempt from wearing a face covering, what should I do?
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering we encourage you to download our exemption badge and ensure that this is clearly visible on your person, or available to show via your phone. Plastic wallets will be available to collect from main reception so that you can attach to your lanyard. 
Do I have to wear my face covering all the time?

Face coverings can be removed if you are in an area where you are keeping 2-metres away from others, maintaining safe social distancing and doing one of the following: 

  • participating in an on-campus lecture or small group learning session 

  • eating, drinking or taking medication 

  • speaking to a person who lip-reads. 

We recognise that in certain laboratory situations, it may not be appropriate to wear a mask and separate advice will be given by your Academic School where this is applicable.  

What are the rules on social distancing and keeping apart from others?
We expect all staff and students to maintain 2-metre social distancing from others wherever possible, in line with government advice. We also advise everyone to wash their hands frequently and to use the hand sanitiser stations provided around entrances to university buildings. 
What do I need to do if I show symptoms of Covid-19

If you feel unwell stay home or in your accommodation, and if in doubt get tested. If you have any of these coronavirus symptoms: 

  • a high temperature 

  • a new, continuous cough 

  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste 

  1. Order a test for free using this link:  Get a test now 

  1. Do not leave home/your flat or room for at least 10 days after your test. 

  1. If your test is positive inform the University by emailing covid-19reporting@aston.ac.uk . 

  1.  Call NHS 111 or your doctor for advice. 

If you are in shared accommodation follow the instructions as outlined by your accommodation provider. See Unite accommodation for further details. For further information on what to do when self-isolating see NHS self-isolation advice

Someone in my house/accommodation, flat has symptoms, what should I do?

If you live with someone who shows symptoms, you will need to isolate for 14 days from the moment they start showing symptoms. If you begin to display symptoms, you will need to follow the advice above and you can also get advice from our Safezone app

If you find yourself self-isolating on arrival in Birmingham our Nourish Team offers an isolation food parcel which includes five days’ worth of food from fresh fruit to cupboard staples such as pasta. For further information see our food parcel online order form

General study

How do I access my online learning materials and lectures?

Key information and resources are made available through our virtual learning environment, Blackboard Learn. You can login to Blackboard at vle.aston.ac.uk using your Aston username and password.

You can also find dedicated information for students in TLC: http://students.tlc.aston.ac.uk/​

Why am I still paying my tuition fees?

It has been necessary for us to cancel onsite teaching for the health and safety of all our staff and students, however, we continue to offer you the opportunity to study wherever you are, albeit in a different way.

We are also offering and increasing our online and virtual support, including one to one advice for students.

What is the University doing for me?

We are committed to providing you with everything you need to continue your studies. We will ensure that we offer you continued learning hours, individual study and pastoral support, and access to resources such as software and library information.  We are providing all of these services from a distance to our maximum capacity and for this reason, although we may not be supporting you face-to-face, the University is not closed and your teaching continues. Your tutors will be available to you by way of telephone, Skype or your preferred medium. Our Student Charter outlines our responsibilities as well as those of students.

We have redirected all academic and support staff resources to provide you with an online experience so you can complete the semester, year or your studies.

Can I study remotely?

All students have been given an ‘Authorised Absence’ record until the end of September, which is your official permission to study at a distance. You should be able to access all of your materials online as normal as outlined by your School.

If you hold a Tier 4 visa, then please use the MAP engagement task to ‘Check In’ once a week so we can see you are still engaging with your studies. This will allow us to protect your visa for the UK, even if you are currently overseas.

If you are currently unable to continue with your studies for any reason, please email us and we will advise you of your options.

I'm having trouble accessing the University systems. What can I do?

We are aware that in some locations overseas, students may experience technological problems in submitting alternatives to on-campus assessments so we have set up support to help students in this position.

For technical issues or to report a lack of available equipment and/or reliable internet access, please contact Digital Services:

Self-services portal: Solve

Email IT Helpdesk

Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3445

Please include relevant details including programme and/or module code so that this can be communicated to programme teams.

Students studying programmes with compulsory attendance requirements

Where there is a compulsory attendance element to your course you may need to be on campus to participate in accordance with professional regulatory body requirements. If you are unable to return to campus in term one, due to travel restrictions, health concerns etc, then please contact your programme director or programme office as soon as possible to discuss what the options are for you and if any special arrangements can be made. 

In the event of change to the Government social distancing guidelines (e.g. a local or national lockdown) that prevents us being able to provide the on-campus activity that requires your attendance, alternative measures will be put in place.  This may mean scheduling these activities at different times or providing the activity off-campus.  Your School will inform you of any necessary changes should this occur.

I am worried about how my attendance will be affected if I can't attend University. What will happen?

Whilst we record attendance we have stopped using it for monitoring purposes so there is no need to be concerned that not being on campus will have a negative effect on your overall attendance.

If you are an International Student with a Tier 4 visa, please continue to complete the online engagement task in MAP so we can continue to sponsor your visa.

I'm in my final year, will I still be able to complete my studies?

The University will make decisions based on your academic progress to date, and may offer you an alternative assessment to allow you to complete your studies.

We will ensure you are given the opportunity to graduate and be awarded your degree .

What if I need to speak to my tutor for dissertation support?

One to one supervision, dissertation and office hours can be provided by phone, Skype etc.  Alternative modes of assessing progress and achievement will be provided as necessary 

Who can I speak to if I am concerned?

If you have any specific concerns or queries please contact us or report via the SafeZone app.

Exams and Assessments

No detriment policy – maximising flexibility to support student success

  • All students will be awarded or progressed fairly, ensuring that they are not disadvantaged.
  • Students will not be penalised if they submit their coursework up to five working days after the deadline.
  • If you’re unable to make a submission of coursework or exams, because of your personal situation, don’t submit. Under these circumstances, wherever possible, we’ll award a qualification that reflects your academic attainment to date.
  • Students with missed results will be offered deferred assessments at a later stage for the opportunity to improve performance.

How will I do my exams?

We have made changes to the assessment timetables to take account of the COVID-19 situation, and your personal examination timetable is available on MAP. You will find a link on your student homepage called ‘View my Examination Timetable’. This gives you the schedule of your modified examinations.

What about my assessments?

If you go to the Blackboard site for your modules, you will find details of your modified assessments, what you need to do to complete these assessments, and how to upload your submission(s) or engage with the online interactive assessment. Please keep looking on Blackboard and check what actions you need to take.

Many assessments are time-constrained take away papers and should be completed by the date and time specified in the details on Blackboard. We have designed the assessment timings to give you enough time to complete assignments, taking into account different time zones and individual student situations. The times specified relate to UK time, so you will need to calibrate this with your own time zone if you are submitting from outside the UK.

Fixed-time assessments should be completed and submitted within the specified time window. Students should therefore ensure that they allow sufficient time to submit the work by the deadline. Owing to the timed nature of the assessment, submissions after the deadline will only be accepted in very exceptional circumstances, and students will need to make an exceptional circumstances submission.

How do I know that my work has been submitted?

Here is some useful guidance for students about submission receipts.

You can also find information via the below:

Blackboard

Further guidance about video assessment and video submission.

Will this affect my marks?

Our key responsibility, after your health and wellbeing, is to make sure we offer all the support and guidance we can to aid you in meeting your potential and the degree that you deserve. We will ensure that our examination boards assess you in a way which maintains academic quality and standards, but also strives to ensure that no student is disadvantaged. 

I can't submit my work on time, what can I do?

No student will be penalised if they submit their coursework up to five working days after the deadline. If you have further personal circumstances that means you are unable to submit your work, do not submit it.  

Where possible, you will be awarded a qualification that reflects your academic attainment to date.

I have more than one exam a day which is too much, what can I do?

You may have been set two exams in one day, and each exam will be no longer than the maximum time limit of three hours, however, you will be given more than three hours to take these exams and the exam boards have been asked to take this into consideration.

What does it mean if I will be awarded on partial data?

It will be different for each student depending on their programme, however it may include a combination of the following:

  • Performance in modules in the current or previous year;
  • Marks achieved in other modules;
  • Mean and standard deviation for all modules;
  • Overall performance for your entire degree to date;

All of these factors will be considered to agree an overall picture of your studies and to offer you the most favourable result possible.

I do not want to be assessed on partial data, what can I do?

If you would like to take your exams and assessments and you are fit to study, then you should continue to submit your work and attempt your exams as normal.

If you would like to take your exams and assessments but you are not fit to study and have some exceptional personal circumstances, then please do not submit your work or sit your exam. You will be given the opportunity to take the exams and assessments at a later date if you choose to do so, without any penalties.

I have to take my exams as my degree has professional accreditation, what can I do?

If you need to take an exam in order to receive accreditation by a particular regulating body, and you are currently unable to do this, you will be given the opportunity to take the exam or assessment at a later date without any penalties.

I have exceptional circumstances. What do I need to do?

It is not possible for us to list all of the exceptional circumstances as every situation is taken on its own individual merits, however, here are some examples of what may be considered:

  • In quarantine due to the Coronavirus
  • Unwell with symptoms of the Coronavirus
  • Unwell with a medical condition unrelated to the Coronavirus
  • Poor mental health and wellbeing
  • Caring for family or relatives, including increased childcare responsibilities
  • Unable to study in lockdown location
  • Technical issues which prevents normal study activities

This list is not exhaustive and does not guarantee that your exceptional circumstances will be considered.

For details of how to make an exceptional circumstances submission, see the Guide to Exceptional Circumstances.

How do I submit my alternative assessments?

For written assessments, all work is to be uploaded, as explained in the assessment instructions, on Blackboard. For other assessments (for example, interactive assessments conducted over the internet), details will be provided by the relevant module staff in advance of the assessment taking place. In all cases, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the assessment methodology and assessment criteria in advance of any submission or online interactive assessments.

Further information and advice for students about completing assessments online available via the TLC web pages. Additional information will be published here to address any emerging queries.

I'm having trouble accessing the University systems. What can I do?

We are aware that on some occasions, students may experience technological problems in submitting alternatives to on-campus assessments. We have set up support to help students in this position.

For technical issues or to report a lack of available equipment and/or reliable internet access, please contact Digital Services:

Self-services portal: Solve

Email: IT Helpdesk

Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3445

Please include relevant details including programme and/or module code so that this can be communicated to programme teams.

I don't feel I have my best in my assessment as I am not very well. What should I do?

If you choose to submit an assessment for grading (either coursework or examination alternative), you will have deemed yourself fit and equipped to take the assessment. You are also agreeing to accept the outcome of your assessment as valid. We will also consider this a valid attempt.

If, for whatever reason, you believe that you are not fit and able to take an assessment, then please do not submit. We will automatically, and without penalty, defer your attempt to the next assessment opportunity. An exceptional circumstances form is not required. If you are deferred in an assessment due to your inability to take it, the deferred assessment may or may not take the same format. 

My coursework is due, but I am unwell. What can I do?

Students will not be penalised if they submit their coursework up to five working days after the deadline. If you are unable to make a submission of coursework or exams, because of your personal situation, don’t submit. Under these circumstances, wherever possible, we’ll award a qualification that reflects your academic attainment to date. Students with deferred results will be offered deferred assessments at a later stage for the opportunity to improve performance.

Late submissions: Coursework submissions made after the automatic five-day extension period can still be made, but standard lateness penalties may apply. If students have a valid reason for submitting coursework late they should speak to their School about making an exceptional circumstances submission to an ECAP.

I am worried about how my attendance will be affected if I can't attend university. What will happen?

Whilst we record attendance we have stopped using it for monitoring purposes so there is no need to be concerned that not being on campus will have a negative effect on your overall attendance.

If you are an International Student with a Tier 4 visa, please continue to complete the online engagement task in MAP so we can continue to sponsor your visa.

I'm in my final year, will I still be able to complete my studies?

The University will make decisions based on your academic progress to date, and may offer you an alternative assessment to allow you to complete your studies.  

We will ensure you are given the opportunity to graduate and be awarded your degree.

What if I need to speak to my tutor for dissertation support?

One to one supervision, dissertation and office hours can be provided by phone, skype etc.  Alternative modes of assessing student progress and achievement can be found, as necessary. 

Will this have an impact on graduation ceremonies?

The University has identified 25 and 26 November 2020 as provisional dates for the rescheduling of its summer ceremonies and is planning accordingly. These plans will be reviewed in September and confirmation of these dates will be subject to the latest Government advice on social distancing and travel at that time.

Who can I speak to if I am concerned?

If anyone has any specific concerns or queries please contact us or report via the SafeZone app.

I am studying on a course which is accredited or recognised by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies, how will my assessment be affected?

Some of our students are enrolled on programmes which are accredited by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies (PSRBs). We are talking to all these bodies.

  • Students on these programmes need to demonstrate they have met fully all the learning outcomes for their qualification for it to be recognised by the relevant PSRB.
  • For students on these programmes it may, therefore, not be possible to award qualifications or progress students on partial marks.
  • Students who are missing required assessment marks who were unable to engage with any assessments over the forthcoming assessment period will be deferred to the next available opportunity.

 

PSRB requirements differ by programme, so Schools will provide specific details as to how this will affect individual students.

Accommodation

For all Unite accommodation queries see the FAQs on their website.

I live in private halls or a shared house, do I still have to pay?

If you need help and support with your rent contracts for other providers, please contact the Advice and Representation Centre in the Students’ Union.

Careers and Placements

The Careers and Placements Team is working remotely and still on hand to offer support. More information is available on how to access their virtual services.

More information is available to view answers to some of the most frequently asked Careers and Placements related questions.

International

How can I access the University systems remotely when I am from overseas?

Whilst access to some platforms may be limited, we are continually working on providing the best options we can. Should you have any particular issues then please let us know so we can investigate alternative solutions where possible.

For more details, please visit our Solve portal.

Tier 4 Visa Engagement

We have a responsibility to the Home Office to monitor engagement with your studies whilst we are sponsoring your visa.

During these uncertain times we understand that you may have returned home. Please be aware of the quarantine requirements in different countries and any restrictions in place that may prevent you from returning to the UK. If you decide to leave the UK, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can protect your visa.

All students have been given an official 'Authorised Absence' to study at a distance until the end of September 2020, and we will continue to monitor your engagement with your studies to protect your visa.

Wherever you are, please ensure that you use the brand new task in MAP once a week which will act as your virtual 'Check In'.

As long as you have informed us of your location and you are accessing university systems regularly we will continue to sponsor your visa until you return back to our campus. the 60 day absence rule does not currently apply, so please do not worry. We will inform you of when you are required to return to campus based studies.

I am an Exchange student and my University is asking me to return home?

In addition to the standard requirements listed under these pages, please make sure you contact your Home University to let them know about your travel plans.

Will this have an impact on graduation ceremonies?

The University has identified 25 and 26 November 2020 as provisional dates for the rescheduling of its summer ceremonies and is planning accordingly. These plans will be reviewed in September and confirmation of these dates will be subject to the latest Government advice on social distancing and travel at that time.

Degree Apprenticeships

For all questions relating to degree apprenticeships, please see our dedicated key information page.