Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 23 March 2020

Covid-19 Update Message to students - 23 March 2020

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

Dear students,

Over the past few days we have received a lot of emails from you asking questions about accommodation, computing clusters and careers support. Today’s email aims to answer those questions.

1.      Students in University-owned accommodation 

For students still living in University-owned accommodation

As you know, we have advised those students who are able to return home, to do so. We know that some students, particularly our international students, are not able to go home for a variety of reasons. You may be interested in reading guidance produced by the Department for Education specifically for students still living in University accommodation.

Starting today, if you are still living in University accommodation you will be called by a member of staff in Student Services to check you are OK and make sure you have the support you need.  As I’m sure you will appreciate, our staff, just like the whole UK population, have been instructed to minimise face to face contact and avoid coming into work if possible. This will leave us with a skeleton team in Accommodation Services to provide you with limited services, but please be assured, we will do everything we can physically and remotely, to help you through this difficult time.

Your accommodation contract will continue and you will remain liable for the accommodation fees until the end of your contract.  We will contact you to advise you on the options for making payment of fees.  We know that many of you will be worried about not being able to pay fees or not having enough money for food and other bills. We can work this out with you and agree appropriate payment plans for you. If you have not already completed our “Students staying in residence” form, please do, so we can continue to support you through these challenging times.

For students who have left University-owned accommodation by 29 March 2020

If you have left, or are planning to leave University-owned accommodation by Sunday 29 March, we will suspend future direct debit collections. For those paying monthly, collection was due on 1 April. For those of you paying termly, collection was due on 7 May.  We will not be asking for this payment.

For students in University-owned accommodation who have left and cleared their rooms

If you have been able to follow our advice to return home, have emptied your room and returned your keys, you will be released from your contract at the end of this academic term, 29 March. No further fees will be due.

For students in University-owned accommodation who have left, but have not been able to clear their room

If you have left University-owned accommodation but not been able to empty your room you will not be charged for the final term.  If you have not already completed our “Students returning home” form, please do so and confirm that you have left your belongings.  We will contact you at a later date when we have a better idea of when you may be able to return to Newcastle.

For students who have paid accommodation fees in advance

If you paid your accommodation fees in advance at the beginning of the academic year, you will receive a refund of the rent paid for Term 3. At this stage as we are dealing with the implications of Coronavirus and are managing new ways of working in line with Government guidelines, we are not in a position to refund students immediately.  Please be assured that we will have the team working to ensure all refunds are processed as quickly as possible, once staff are able to return to work.  

 

2.      Students Living in Partnership accommodation

For students living in Partnership accommodation such as Abodus, Downing, Liberty and Unite, we are liaising with partners to ascertain what process they will follow in light of the University’s approach. When we know more, you will be contacted with further information.  Again, it is important that we know if you are returning home or staying in residence and we would ask that if you haven’t already advised us of your intentions, please complete the relevant forms.

 

3.      Students living in private accommodation

As advised in the message I sent on 20 March, if you are living in private accommodation in Newcastle, we advise you to monitor Government guidance about the support that is available to protect you. You may also want to speak to your landlord and, if you are at risk of eviction or in hardship, contact our financial support team via their webpage.  

 

4.      Computer cluster availability on campus

The following computer clusters remain open for students still in Newcastle: 

  • Hadrian Cluster (Hadrian Building)
  • Fell Cluster (Med School) 

You will need your smartcard to gain access to these clusters which are available 24/7. We will review the position relating to our clusters daily, depending on usage and Government guidance.  

 

5.      Careers Support

Students can access information, advice and guidance through MyCareer about careers, CVs, applications, Start-Up and any other queries relating to your next steps. The team are on hand (virtually) to help with any of your questions and we can arrange for an advisor to have an online meeting with you if you would like to chat to someone.

We have lots of great online resources, available through our website including practice psychometric testing, online interview simulator and top tips on CVs, applications, career planning and job searching.

 

6.      And finally

Regrettably, I am writing with a note of warning for those of you living in Jesmond. We have received a report of a spate of burglaries in the area. The neighbourhood Inspector has been notified and police are monitoring the situation, but please be vigilant and if you’re leaving Newcastle, take valuables with you and lock up well. 

Look after yourselves during these difficult times. Please listen and adhere to Government and NHS guidance to keep us all safe.  

As ever, the information in this email together with more information for students on issues such as tuition fees, IT support and keeping well, will be included in our FAQs

 

Take good care,

Lucy Backhurst

Academic Registrar