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Coronavirus information for applicants and offer holders

The University first set up a dedicated Coronavirus task force on Monday 20 January 2020 to assess the Coronavirus risk, the implications for the University community and to formulate ongoing plans in dealing with the virus.

This group is led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Clare Mackie and includes key staff from all relevant areas of the University. The group has been working to safeguard staff and students as far as possible from the spread of the virus.

These FAQs were formulated in response to the early effects of the pandemic, to provide information for applicants and offer holders for September 2020.

Pease note these FAQs are no longer being updated, and for the most recent information, please refer to the Semester 1 FAQs here.

Information for applicants and offer holders

Will I be able to study on campus in September?

Yes. We will be teaching our programmes on campus from September but introducing some key changes to make sure students can study in a safe and secure environment.

Courses across the University will be taught in smaller groups and we will be managing all of our buildings differently to allow social distancing guidelines to be followed.

Students will be able to access on site facilities and face-to-face learning but we will be taking all the necessary steps to ensure this is done as safely as possible.

Will I still be able to access specialist facilities and equipment?

As every course is different, the safe working guidance will be led by the specialist staff in each area to make sure students needing to access specialist equipment, spaces or laboratories can do safely.

Will I be taught face-to-face?

Yes. From September the vast majority of our teaching will be carried out face-to-face and on campus. We will be introducing a range of safety measures including carrying out teaching in small groups, issuing all students personal protective equipment most relevant to their course and introducing social distancing measures across our campuses. We will also be providing a comprehensive programme of student support, and all on-campus activity will be delivered using all necessary safety measures to keep you and your academic tutors and advisors safe. On Tuesday 2 June we wrote to all students and applicants outlining our seven-point pledge to return to face-to-face teaching. Read more about our pledge to students here.

Will I be able to take part in the social side of University life?

All students will be able to take advantage of the academic and social opportunities, which University life offers – with on-campus spaces made available to clubs and societies run by the Student Union.

 I have a conditional offer from BCU – what does that mean now?

If you have a conditional offer from BCU, this offer still stands and is unchanged by recent developments.

The University had taken the decision (on 23rd March 2020) to move some conditional offer holders to unconditional status if they had five or more GCSEs at grade 4 or above.

However, a Government announcement on 24th March instructed universities to stop converting any further conditional offers into unconditional offers until 4th May. There is now a consultation underway from the Office for Students which will look at whether universities should stop converting conditional offers to unconditional offers for entry to university in 2020 (until A-level results day in August). Therefore, BCU is unable to convert any more offers whilst this consultation is underway, until mid-June at the earliest.

We are sorry that we are unable to offer more clarity on this but would like to reassure you that all conditional offers made to date still stand. We hope you now have all the information you need to make your firm and insurance choices but if you have further queries, please contact our admissions team at Admissions@bcu.ac.uk

 I do not have an offer yet from BCU – what does that mean for me?

We are still accepting applications and are busy getting offers out as quickly as we can, so we will be in touch if we are able to make you an offer.  

 What will the news about exams means for me as an offer holder / applicant?

We understand that the Government’s decision to cancel exams will leave many Year 13 students concerned about their university place. We want to reassure you that we will do all we can to ensure that no one is disadvantaged as a result and are today announcing some changes to the offers we have already made.
The University had taken the decision (on 23rd March 2020) to move conditional offer holders to unconditional status if they had five or more GCSEs at grade 4 or above OR had been predicted to meet that offer to an unconditional offer, as long as they had achieved grade 4 or above in their English Language and Maths GCSEs at first sitting.

However, since a subsequent announcement (on 24th March) we have been forced to hold off converting any further conditional offers into unconditional offers, as the government said there was a moratorium on any university changing its offer making approach for two weeks. This has now been extended until 4th May, so BCU is unable to make any further progress on this until the government finalises its position. We are sorry that we are unable to offer more clarity on this but would like to reassure you that we will inform you of any developments as soon as possible once government ministers make any further decisions.

 How will grades be awarded in the absence of GCSE, AS and A level examinations this summer and given changes to assessment and learning for vocational qualifications? 

Ofqual published guidance on 3rd April outlining how it is aiming to award GCSEs, AS and A levels in the summer 2020, in the absence of the previously planned examinations. The guidance sets out how schools and colleges are being asked to produce grades for each student based on a range of information. Full details are available from the government website.

The Department for Education has also confirmed that students will receive these results on the same day as previously planned – August 13.

This does not apply for students taking other general and vocational or technical qualifications – whether instead of or alongside GCSEs, AS and A levels. For students studying Access to HE qualifications, work is underway to clarify how grades will be awarded – this update includes reference to those expected to complete their studies before and after 31 July 2020. More information for BTEC learners is expected to be published shortly.

What are the alternative arrangements for students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Please check the following links for the latest updates:

Education Scotland

Qualifications Wales

Department of Education Northern Ireland

 Will I get the Meet or Beat scholarship?

Eligibility for our Meet or Beat scholarship is based on your results meeting or exceeding our published entry requirements. For all offer-holders who meet the terms of the scholarship, we will honour the scholarship and you will still receive the £850. All new entrants also receive £150 credit for our online shop. 

 I already have my A-level or BTEC results.

If this is the case, your original unconditional offer, and any eligibility for scholarships is unchanged. If you have your results, you can still apply to study at BCU, and if applicable, and you meet our requirements, you can still receive an unconditional offer. 

 Should I still book my accommodation?

Our accommodation team are accepting bookings for September so please do go ahead and book your accommodation if you have an offer from us. Accommodation offers will be sent out from 18th May 2020. 

When will I find out about accommodation?

Due to the disruption, we have changed the date when we will make you your room offer for university accommodation. Students who have accepted Birmingham City University as their firm choice and hold an Unconditional Course Offer will receive a room offer after 18th May 2020. Students who have accepted Birmingham City University as firm choice and hold a Conditional Course Offer will receive a room offer from 13th August 2020. 

General enquiries

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?

Do:

wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
always wash your hands when you get home or into work
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don't:

touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you believe you might be at risk, you can call NHS 111 or use the dedicated online tool. Government advice asks anyone with a new persistent cough or high temperature to self-isolate for seven days, as the UK government moves to the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has detailed updates on its website about the current worldwide situation.

What can I do while the country is in lockdown?

The Government has outlined that you should only leave your house for the limited purposes only:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Read more about what you can and can’t do on the Government website.

What is the University doing about coronavirus?

The University set up its first dedicated task force on Monday 20 January 2020 due to our strong links with the city of Wuhan, Hubei province including two University partnerships. This group is led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Clare Mackie and includes key staff from all relevant areas of the University. It has been meeting regularly and updating staff and students with information and evidence supported by advice from Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Education. We have since established a number of other groups to ensure we are considering all implications for our University community.

These groups have been working to safeguard staff and students as far as possible from the spread of the virus.

What steps have been taken so far?

Initially, we remained in close contact with students and staff who study/deliver our degrees in China and those students and staff who may have recently returned to the UK from Wuhan or Hubei Province, as well as our partners in Wuhan. The initial group worked with staff based in Wuhan at the time of the initial shutdown, and kept in close communication with both them and students returning from China, to ensure both their safety and well-being, and that of the wider university population.

We have ensured all affected staff and students – whether they are from areas most affected or have friends and family in those areas – are supported by our well-being teams and relevant counselling services. The group has also worked extremely closely with halls of residence partners to ensure students based there receive appropriate advice, care and support, and has also put in place measures to review all business travel before staff leave the country. Additional hand sanitiser was ordered and received at the beginning of February then distributed across all university buildings.

More recently, we have suspended all face-to-face teaching on our campuses with immediate effect. Academic staff have been moving as much teaching material online as possible with support from the teams across their faculties. From Monday 30 March, we will be teaching online for the rest of this semester.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23 March, we closed our campuses with immediate effect to all staff and students. This included the closure of libraries and all other facilities, however student accommodation remains open at present.

We are constantly reviewing Government advice in light of the changing situation. Any relevant updates will be posted here or in the intranet page for staff.

How do I keep updated about the latest University information about coronavirus (COVID-19 outbreak)?

This page will be kept up-to-date as and when the situation for Birmingham City University staff, students and visitors changes. Staff can also see regular updates on the intranet page. For all up-to-date details about coronavirus, the Government web pages are being frequently updated.

Students should also check their BCU email regularly for updates, while staff will continue to receive messages in the Tiger Today newsletter.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases amongst our staff or student body. Should this change, we will immediately offer advice to staff and students about next steps.

International students

I am an international student holding an offer from BCU – will I be able to start my studies at the University in September?

It is currently our expectation that International students will be able to study at BCU in the normal way but we are closely monitoring events in the UK and globally and will contact you with more information as the situation becomes more clear.

What will the start of term look like?

We will offer a flexible arrival across the first four weeks of term for those who need it, with international students allowed to start at any point until the 8th week of term to allow for any quarantine period imposed by the British Government. Should you need to take advantage of this flexible arrival, we will make sure you do not fall behind in your learning by providing you with online teaching which you will need to access at home.

Will the University still process my applications for September?

Yes we are continuing to provide our admissions service and process our applications, issuing offers and taking deposits. 

If I pay my deposit and my course is not running, will I get a refund?

Applicants are presently able to pay their deposit in the usual way. If borders are closed to international travel, or prohibitive restrictions apply in the student’s home country or in the UK, the University will refund the money paid by an applicant.

I am an international student who has applied to BCU but my examinations have been cancelled so I am uncertain about how I will achieve my qualifications.

Birmingham City University is determined not to disadvantage students from any country whose education has been disrupted by the pandemic. We are aware that lots of countries are having the same difficulties in completing examinations and awarding grades as we are currently experiencing in the UK.

BCU is supportive of formal arrangements to replace exams with a different model of awarding qualifications. If you are an international student living in the UK and studying qualifications validated by UK examination boards, please see information in our FAQs titled.