Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 26 March taught and research

Covid-19 Update Message to taught and research programme students - 26 March 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar shares the latest updates with taught and research programme students.

Dear taught and research programme students,

Please find below today’s update.

The first item is detailed and important, but only for international students holding visas. The update also contains an important reminder to all students to be alert to phishing attacks at this time, a follow-up on volunteering opportunities, more information for students living in partnership accommodation and a reminder for those affected by strike action about completing the Industrial Action Impact Form.  

Home Office (UKVI) Guidance

In response to the current Coronavirus pandemic, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) yesterday released new guidance on alternative arrangements for those who require immigration permission to remain in the UK.

The guidance, which you should read in full, is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

The key points are:

1.     Visas expiring between 24th January and 31st May 2020

 

If your visa expires between these dates and you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to COVID-19, your visa will be extended to 31st May 2020.

Please note that this is not automatic. You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) with the following details:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your nationality
  • Your previous visa reference number
  • The reason why you cannot go back to your home country (e.g. the border is closed).

UKVI will let you know when your request is received, and when your visa has been extended.

If you are still a registered student at Newcastle University, please let us know that your visa has been extended by sending your confirmation to compliance@ncl.ac.uk

2.     Switching immigration categories in the UK

Under normal circumstances, you would need to return to your home country to switch between some immigration categories (for example, from Short Term Study or Visitor Visa to Tier 4).

UKVI recognise that this may not currently be possible. You can now make an application for a 'long term' visa in the UK, providing that you have made that application on or before 31st May 2020.  You must still meet the requirements of the visa you are applying for. Fees will still be applicable.

If you would like advice on how to make a Tier 4 application in the UK, please contact:

3. Applying for a visa outside of the UK 

Many Visa Application Centres (VACs) remain closed.

If you have an appointment with a VAC, you will be contacted to advise you that the appointment will not take place.

If you have any further enquiries relating to the above guidance you should contact the Visa Support Teams in the first instance. If they are unable to assist, you will be required to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team for assistance.

Private Accommodation
We appreciate that different landlords are taking different approaches to accommodation contracts and we wanted to update you on the current position each private accommodation provider is taking.

For those students in University-owned accommodation, we will release you from your contract from 29 March if you have returned home. 

We’re pleased to say that Unite have agreed to do the same for students who do not plan to stay in their Unite or Liberty Living home for their third university term (after Easter). You too will not have to pay outstanding rental payments.

At the moment, Downing students are closely following government guidelines around accommodation.  At this point, they have no plans to cancel any contracts or process refunds for students who have chosen to depart early.  They are continuing to provide all students with access to safe, secure managed accommodation and currently have a very high level of occupation. 

Portland Green Student Village remains open and functioning as normal.  As they remain open and, at this current time, are able to provide all services to residents, tenancy agreements remain valid and active, and as such they will be collecting rent as normal. Should there be cases with exceptional circumstances, they will consider them under normal cancellation policy and booking terms and conditions.

We recognise that this situation will be difficult for some students, and the University is working closely with our partners to ask them to follow our stance on releasing students from their contractual liability. We will update you again on this when we have more information to share.

Volunteering Follow-up

Following yesterday’s message, where we highlighted the ways in which our students and staff are supporting the local community, a number of you have kindly responded to ask how you can volunteer.  Since the Government has now made a call for volunteers, you may want to sign up to the national scheme.  More information can be found on the following website: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

Local opportunities include Newcastle City Council ‘City Lifeline’ scheme which was launched this week for people wanting to volunteer their time to support the wide range of established community organisations across Newcastle City. In addition is Newcastle Upon Tyne Covid 19 Mutual Aid where community groups across Newcastle are working together to support the community. 

Remember there’s the NUSU Community Facebook page which you can join to find out more about volunteering opportunities organised through the Students’ Union. This includes NUSU's Go Volunteer programme that is running programmes such as knitting and writing digital letters for sick children.

Phishing Attacks

Our IT service have been alerted to the potential of an increase phishing attempts during this situation.  Please be vigilant and, if you’re in any doubt about the source of an email, delete it or contact our IT Service Desk. We are all working in new and different ways which can make us more susceptible. 

Industrial Action Impact

And finally, a reminder to those students affected by strike action earlier this term that tomorrow is the last day for you to submit your Industrial Action Impact Form

If you have any further questions that are not covered by my emails or the FAQs, please get in touch at: Covid19enquiries@ncl.ac.uk

 

Best wishes

Lucy Backhurst 

Academic Registrar