Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 14 May

Covid-19 Update Message to students - 14 May 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with students.

Dear Students,

I hope you are well. In this week’s message, I acknowledge the government’s recent announcement on plans to ease the country out of lockdown and the implications for us. I include a final reminder for those of you due to start your assessments of the final checks you should do in preparation, the IT support that you can access during this period, and the IT services that are available to support a range of accessibility requirements.

University plans for returning to campus

As you will now be aware, the Government has cautiously started the process of bringing the country out of lockdown.  At the University, we are carefully planning for how life on campus might work in the weeks and months to come, keeping the health and safety of you, our students, and our colleagues as our absolute priority. 

It is very important that we begin to plan for a gradual lifting of lockdown so that we can be as ready as possible to follow the government’s advice and also be prepared for the new academic year.  We will be using the period between now and the start of term to get this right.

We know that, for many of you, your focus will be on your assessments which begin next week.  We want to reiterate that despite the government’s lifting of some restrictions this week, in terms of access to and activities on the University campus, nothing has changed.  We continue to follow the most up-to-date government guidelines which means that we are unable to reopen the physical campus for learning and teaching activities, and therefore you should continue to work and study online. If you have moved out of your term-time accommodation and away from Newcastle, we advise you to remain where you are until further guidance is issued. 

Once the assessment period has ended, we will send those of you who will be continuing your studies more information about the University’s plans for transitioning back to campus and the arrangements that will be in place for the start of the new academic year.

Those of you engaged in clinical education will receive separate communication from your respective Schools about arrangements going forwards.

Final preparations for assessment

You should be aware from previous communications that for the Safety Net to be applied to your stage/degree outcome you must pass of all your assessments in Semester 2.  Those of you on professionally regulated degrees for example, dentistry, dental therapy, medicine etc will already have information from your Schools on the assessment process for your particular degree.

If you need to tell us about additional issues that you have or are experiencing personally or with your module/s that you believe will impact upon your assessment performance, there are a range of options available.  Full details of these options, which include the existing PEC system, requests to defer your assessments and changes of circumstances procedures, together with the Covid-19 Impact Form, can be found on the Covid-19 webpages.

Can I strongly encourage you, if you’ve not had the chance to do so, to check your access to Blackboard and any other software you will need before the assessment period begins. If you require IT help or advice, contact the IT Service Desk.

University IT support is available 24/7. If you have any issues accessing your assessment or University IT systems you can contact IT support on +44 (0)191 208 5999 at any time, or by email at

More detailed information on the IT support available for you before and during the assessment period is available online.  There is also advice on preparing for and taking 24 hour take home examinations on our Academic Skills Kit site.

IT services to support accessibility

The IT Service provides advice and guidance to support a range of accessibility requirements.

The student Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has most of the software that is available on a standard University cluster PC, including specialist applications to support students with health difficulties, dyslexia and disabilities. You can log in to it from a PC, laptop or tablet that is connected to the internet via

For general queries about IT services to support accessibility please contact the IT Service Desk.

The Student Health and Wellbeing Service also provides advice and support to enable all students to study effectively.

And finally, please get in touch at if there is any further advice or support that you need or, alternatively, consult the FAQs which continue to be updated regularly.

With thanks and best wishes,


Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar