COVID-19 vaccine will be given to Exeter international students in the UK

After rigorous clinical trials have been conducted, with thousands of people involved, the UK has officially become the first country in the western world to authorise a COVID-19 vaccine. The experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have taken all the necessary measures to analyse the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness, and thankfully it is good to go.

With authorisation granted, Pfizer will deliver the vaccine to the UK as soon as possible. Fortunately for international students in the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that international students will “be able to access these vaccinations, just as they are able to access healthcare”.

Who is first in line to receive the vaccine?

According to a priority system devised by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, care home residents and their care-givers are top priority. Next in line are the elderly over the age of 80, frontline healthcare workers, people aged over 75, then younger age groups and/or with underlying health conditions. Excluded for now are pregnant women and children under the age of 16, but vaccine trials for these groups are ongoing and planned.

The UK has officially become the first country in the western world to authorise a vaccine. Source: JOEL SAGET / AFP

The UK government has actively expressed its commitment to support international students, ensuring they will not be forgotten as the vaccine is distributed and administered. In an open letter to students, universities minister Michelle Donelan expressed the country’s gratitude to them, thanking everyone for their patience.

“I understand that international students may have additional questions as we approach the end of the 2020/21 autumn academic term. Whether you are currently at your chosen university, are studying remotely from your home country, or plan to study here in the future, I am writing to you directly to provide you with support and guidance at this challenging time,” she wrote.

Donelan’s letter focuses on the movements of international students during the festive season and new term, noting that some students may have to stay on campus at this time. “It is [the] government’s expectation that HE providers should help to ensure you are well looked after,” she said. Donelan also mentions that the government is advising international students to return to university during a period staggered over five weeks.

In light of the UK’s vaccine breakthrough, a new survey by QS has found that over a fifth (21%) of international students have said they want to bring forward their plans to study abroad and there’s no reason why they should not.

“Our borders are open for both returning and new international students wishing to study in the UK and our universities are looking forward to welcoming you to campuses in the new year,” Donelan reassures.

“We are committed to prioritising education and want to enable all students – domestic and international, current and prospective – that they can return to, or start new courses at our universities and will be able to engage in blended learning as soon as possible,” she adds.

Exeter Students What to know about returning to the UK in spring 2021

Students who were allowed to return home during the special travel window in early December will soon be returning to the UK for the new semester. The spring semester begins in January and runs through to Easter, which is typically in April. Anticipating mass travel, the UK government has released an official set of guidelines for higher learning institutions.

If you are one of the students returning to the UK, we’ve condensed what you need to know below. Bear in mind that though these are official guidelines, each university is responsible for setting the rules for its returning students. So, be sure to confirm all details of your return with your university.

When to return

The UK government advises everyone to stagger the return of students over five weeks to minimise person-to-person transmission. Practical and placement students must be prioritised; they should be returning to the UK between Jan. 4 and 24, 2020. This includes students training for allied health professions and teaching, as well as those in lab-intensive STEM programmes. Additionally, students with valid reasons to return should be allowed, for example, “students who do not have access to appropriate alternative accommodation, facilities, studying space, or that need to return for health reasons.”

Universities should have set up a reliable online learning infrastructure by now, which will allow students to begin the term from home. Students who can proceed with the course online should only return to campus between Jan. 25 and Feb. 7. This includes postgraduate taught students, students in second year onwards, new starters, other international students. Basically, the government directive is: “If you’ve returned home for winter break, you need not return to your campus accommodation until face-to-face teaching resumes.”

returning to UK

A Qatar Airways flight preparing to land at Heathrow airport in west London. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

You must test for COVID-19

Yes, every student crossing the border should be offered a rapid turnaround test. If you test positive, you must isolate for 10 days — even if asymptomatic — to prevent unintentionally spreading COVID-19 to your campus community. The guideline further states: “If a student has had a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in the last 90 days through NHS Test and Trace and been recorded as a positive case on the national system, they do not need to be tested again.”

If you are tested via lateral flow devices, you must take the test twice — once upon your return, and again after three days. You must remain isolated until receiving two negative results. Besides that, your university should ensure that your campus is a COVID-secure environment by providing access to resources, study spaces, campus catering, as well as pastoral and study support. University officials should also be open to listening to what international students need and responding in kind.

Prepare for travel before returning to the UK

Before returning to the UK, be sure to confirm when face-to-face teaching begins, and when you are expected back on campus. You should also inform your university if you have already booked travel for dates outside your specified cohort date. Don’t worry — universities are encouraged to be flexible with international students, especially those who bought tickets before this guideline was issued.

Upon arrival in the UK, you must complete a passenger locator form and self-isolate for 10 days (unless you’re coming from a country on the travel corridor list). Universities UK has prepared a checklist for universities to follow in supporting self-isolating students. You may refer to further guidelines for entering the UK here.

UPDATE: University students are advised to stay home as campuses close in England’s third lockdown. More information here.

covid update 26th Jan 2021

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Students mental Health

Room self-isolation with flatmates they barely know halls of residences emptying out over lockdown to struggles to get the wifi to work for Zoom lectures, the start to the 2020 term has been riddled with uncertainty for most university students. Just one thing’s for sure: it’s been a strange year.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that students across campuses have been grappling with loneliness, anxiety, and depression as a result of their experiences.

“Students aren’t just disappointed that their university experience looks different in terms of teaching and learning, they’re also asking: ‘What does it mean for all the other things I wanted out of uni life? The people I could have met? The sports and societies I could have joined?’” said Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, vice-president for higher education at the National Union of Students.

Mental health is a critical part of students’ overall health and well-being.

Students today face a range of demands that can impact their mental health. From meeting high academic expectations to navigating the world of social media to maintaining relationships with their peers, and parents being so far away from home. students often have busy schedules that result in a lack of sleep and self-care. Many students are also dealing with distress, crises, and trauma in addition to typical life stressors. Mental health challenges can negatively impact all areas of functioning in students, contributing to social, emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.

 

 

 

 

Students returning home

The government is committed to ensuring that students that have been living away from home are able to return home at the end of term, if they choose to do so. HE providers should support students to ensure that this is possible, following the period of national restriction, whilst mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus. It is essential that measures are put in place to ensure this can happen as safely as possible for students, staff and the communities that they return to.

 

Your students must follow the rules on movement and self-isolation after a test.

If a student tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) they are required by law to self-isolate for a period of 10 days.

If a student has been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive but can access testing via the mass testing programme, they should seek a test. If they test negative, they must still self-isolate for 10 days from the day after contact with the individual who tested positive, but this can be done at home if they wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to their family. Students should only use public transport if they have no other option. They should strictly follow safer travel guidance for passengers. Where mass testing is not available, students must self-isolate in their current accommodation and not return home.

If a student tests negative and is not a close contact of someone who has tested positive, they can travel home by any mode of transport and do not have to undertake any further periods of self-isolation. If, after travel, they subsequently develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or are alerted by NHS Test and Trace that they are a close contact of a case, they should immediately self-isolate at their new location and get tested.

Students who are unable to self-isolate safely and practically at home, whilst continuing their studies, should be supported to do so at university (see the section on specific support for students).

The LFD tests we are deploying have a high specificity which means there is a very low chance of false positive test results occurring. The test does not detect all positive cases, however, and works best in cases with higher viral loads – those who are most infectious. As the test is easy to administer and does not require a laboratory, repeat tests can be carried out. The benefit will be the ability to detect a significant number of people without symptoms who are infectious who will then be asked to self-isolate thereby reducing the transmission of the virus.

LFD tests will not be available in all locations. If you cannot provide LFD testing, you should inform them of the broader guidance in this document and they should return home, either:

its real 

It is against the law to leave your home to travel unless for work or other legally permitted reasons.

Where you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can. This will reduce pressure on public transport and the road network.

You should stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings).

Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

You must observe social contact rules while walking or cycling in England.

Where possible, keep a suitable distance from other people. For example, when waiting at crossings and traffic lights. Take precautions where this is not possible.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

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Studying safely on Exeter campuses

Studying safely on Exeter campuses

shared from the Exeter university site.

exeter.ac.uk/coronavirus/students

The Prime Minister has announced a period of national lockdown in England, starting from Tuesday 5 January and expected to last until at least mid-February. Find out more on our latest updates page. For information on in-person teaching and when you should be coming to campus visit our dedicated webpage.

Your safety is our highest priority and we are working to ensure our campuses are as safe as possible. We’ve done this by assessing every building on our campuses and giving them a COVID-19 secure certificate.

It is mandatory to wear a face covering when inside buildings on our campuses. To support this, we provide three re-usable face coverings to all students. Hand sanitiser is available at approved entrances / exits to buildings, and clear signage sets out how you’re able to use each building safely. You’ll also notice enhanced cleaning arrangements are in place.

REGISTER FOR SAFEZONE

We’ve recently purchased SafeZone, an online app that helps us to help you whilst on campus – if you request it. The app is available for all colleagues and students to download and sign into if they wish. Once installed if you press Emergency, Help or First aid, your location will be sent to relevant staff on campus and allows us to keep you updated, via text messages, and relevant information relating to your emergency.

To download the app please go to: www.safezoneapp.com and follow the instructions for your device. You will need to register with your University of Exeter email address and review the permissions for the app to enable the app to be aware of your location, by using the transmitting signals on your phone. You should also allow push notifications, to enable the University to communicate with you if you raise an emergency alert. You can read more information about the SafeZone app online.

Compensation must be available for Exeter students unable to live in private accommodation

Compensation must be available for students unable to live in private accommodation they still are paying for, a union says.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said it was “simply unacceptable” that there is no financial support for students and landlords.

Universities, including Bristol, Bath and Bath Spa, plan to give students who cannot use accommodation rent rebates.

The Department for Education said there is funding for those “most in need”.

A students’ representative at Bath Spa University said many students “feel completely cut off” from their academic community.

That is despite them spending thousands of pounds on tuition and accommodation this year.

And an NUS spokesperson said: “All student renters must now be offered rent refunds and the option of leaving their tenancy early.

“If universities and landlords need financial support to make this happen then government must step in.”

‘Such an injustice’

Ciara Martin, an education studies student who is in her third year at Bath Spa, said she has spent about £1,500 in the last three months on a house in Weston-super-Mare.

She has spent all of that time living at home in Surrey.

Ciara MartinIMAGE COPYRIGHTCIARA MARTIN
image captionCiara Martin said she’s spent about £1,500 on a house that she’s not legally allowed to stay in

Ms Martin decided to go home for a reading week in November – but was then unable to travel back because of the second lockdown.

“I haven’t lived there since November. I’m paying all these bills and I’m not even using it. It’s ridiculous, it’s just such an injustice,” she said.

“It’s great the universities are helping those in university accommodation but something really needs to be done [about private rentals]. There’s the extra worry of the money we’re spending”, she said.

“It just feels totally helpless.

“Landlords haven’t said anything about paying less or anything like that so we’re definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

‘If there was mould, we didn’t see it’

Poppy Colbourne is currently spending about £550 a month on rent and bills for a house in Bath that she cannot visit or live in.

She is completing her Master’s degree in neuropsychology while living at her family home in Northampton.

Poppy ColbourneIMAGE COPYRIGHTPOPPY COLBOURNE
image captionPoppy Colbourne was unable to view her house before agreeing to stay there because of coronavirus restrictions

Ms Colbourne and her two housemates signed up to the property without seeing it in person because of coronavirus restrictions.

A virtual tour of the house was the closest they could get to a typical viewing.

“We just had to take the landlord’s word for it. If there was mould, we didn’t see it”, she said.

She has not been in a classroom since March but has graduated and started studying for her current degree.

“I feel like my life’s on pause but I’m still expected to do the same and it’s not possible. I’m overwhelmed, it’s making me ill about how stressed I am. I just need a sense of normality.”

‘I didn’t want to waste my money’

For Jess Foster, a second year human nutrition student from Somerset, it seemed like “everything was slowly getting back to normal” when she returned to Bath in September.

She had signed up for a year in private accommodation with housemates for the first time.

Jess FosterIMAGE COPYRIGHTJESS FOSTER
image captionJess Foster stayed alone in her student house in Bath last year because all her housemates left

But just a couple of months later, she was the only person living there.

“All my housemates, because of uncertainty, and because they live so much further away from Bath, decided to go home”, she said.

“Because of how much I’m paying in bills I wanted to go home but I didn’t want to waste my money. So during the second lockdown I lived on my own in my house.”

She went back home in December and remains there, still unsure whether she will be able to undertake practical units of her course in the next few months.

What do the landlords say?

Many landlords are reliant on rental income “for their livelihood and pension and cannot afford just not to be paid”, the chief executive of the National Residents Landlords Association said.

Ben Beadle said the association has “encouraged landlords to show whatever flexibility they are able to provide”.

But he added: “If the desire is for students not to be required to pay rent where they are temporarily not occupying their housing but want this to be kept available to them when they return, then the government needs to provide a package of compensation.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said it recognised it had been a “very difficult time for students” and that it “encourages universities and accommodation providers to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart”.

They said it has announced funding of up to £20m to help students “most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances”.

Universities have been given £256m which they “can use to help students”, they said.

‘Humiliating’ arrests of French students following exam protests

‘Humiliating’ arrests of French students following exam protests condemned by politicians

Students forced to kneel with hands behind their heads outside school in western Paris suburb as demonstrations against proposed exam changes spread through country

Elian Peltier,Megan Specia

A demonstration by students outside a school in the western Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie ended in clashes with the police and more than 140 arrests
A demonstration by students outside a school in the western Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie ended in clashes with the police and more than 140 arrests

A video of French students being forced to kneel with their hands behind their heads by riot police has sparked outrage on social media.

The students in the video, taken on earlier this week, were part of a protest in the western Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie against proposed overhauls to national exams.

Demonstrations against the exam proposals have slowly spread around the country, at the same time as France has been shaken by the “yellow vest” protests, which started as opposition to a planned increase in France’s fuel tax.

Jacques Toubon, France’s ombudsman for human rights, said he had opened an investigation into the treatment of the students on Friday.

Exeter Tier 4 restrictions: Questions for university students answered

Tier 4 restrictions: Questions for university students answered

Posted by:Posted on: – Categories:CoronavirusHigher EducationMyth bustingUniversities

News

On Saturday, the Government announced a new Tier 4 level of Covid-19 restrictions. Here we answer some of your questions about how the announcement will affect university students.

How does this news affect our return to university?

Your university will tell you when to go back. Until then, we strongly encourage you to remain where you are and access your course online wherever possible. If you do need to return, let your university know so that they can support you.

We have already published guidance to universities and students on returning to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how we will support universities to enable students to return as safely as possible following the winter break, by staggering this process and facilitating testing for all.

These plans are being kept under review in light of the latest scientific evidence.

You can still meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training – such as in seminars or study groups. Students should follow the guidance and restrictions and should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.

Can I still travel home if I have not done so already?

We expect that the majority of students, other than those who need or choose to remain at university, will now have returned to their family home during the ‘student travel window’, though they are permitted to temporarily move to a “vacation household” during the period from 3 December to 7th February.

To be clear, under the regulations, ANY student currently on a higher education course can travel home once, during the period 3 December and 7 February.

Once home, students are also allowed to return to university, but should only do so in certain circumstances such as if the in-person part of their course has started, if they have nowhere else to live or if they need to return for mental health reasons.

These students should let their universities know their plans as soon as they can, so that they can support them with this.

If you live at university you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and university home, more than once during the break.

What if I am in Tier 4?

The same travel exemption applies to students in all tiers, including tier 4, which allows students to travel and join one other household. This means that if you want to leave tier 4 to go to your permanent home or another household you can but you should stay there until you are told you can return to university.

Students in tier 4 should still adhere to all other local restrictions.

Will it be safe to study on campus?

Universities should follow guidance on reopening buildings to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus and are as Covid-secure as possible.

The Government expects all students to get tested on their return to university, wherever possible, so that we can mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and everyone’s university experience can improve.

Getting tested is free and you will usually get the results in under an hour. Students should get tested twice, three days apart, even if your first test is negative. If positive, you should self-isolate immediately and get a confirmatory PCR test via NHS Test and Trace.

Those returning to face-to-face education after a negative test must still exercise caution and follow national guidance on social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand hygiene.

To minimise the risk to themselves and others on their return to university, students should also use local community testing programmes where possible and take a test before travelling if they have spent the winter break in a Tier 3 or 4 area.

I am a medical student who has to return for work over the Christmas period, how many times can I travel?

Under the regulations, any student can move from their student household to travel home once during the period 3 December to 7 February and can travel back to university. A student could commute from their family home or ‘vacation household’ directly to work where this is necessary, but they must not move between their student household and family home more than once.

What about international students who have gone home for Christmas? How will they be affected?

Our borders are open for both returning and new international students wishing to study in the UK. English universities have been asked to stagger returns to campus in January and February, to help ensure students are able to resume studies as safely as possible.

Universities will tell students when to return over the course of January and February. Until then, students should stay where they are and access course content online; this includes international students.

If students have already booked travel outside of their universities preferred dates, and are unable to change the booking, they should tell their university who should be able to support their return.

Students returning to the UK from overseas will be required to complete a passenger locator form on arrival, and those from a country not on the exemption list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for ten days. Universities UK have developed guidance for universities on how best to support those students.

It is also important that international students consider the travel advice in place from their home country, including whether or not the country has closed their borders to departures to and arrivals from the UK. More information is available in our guidance and on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel advice page.

Our borders are open for new international students wishing to study in the UK. The advice outlined in our guidance for returning international students also applies to those starting new courses.

Students should make their university aware of their travel plans in advance of their arrival date, so that they can be appropriately supported when arriving. Universities have been asked to build in appropriate flexibility for international students travelling to the UK from overseas.

Travelling to attend education in all areas of England, including tier 4 (with the most stringent controls) is allowed but please speak to your provider first.

Some countries have temporarily closed their borders to departures to and arrivals from the UK, and students should consider this and what it may mean for their travel to and from the UK. You can find more information on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel advice page.

University of Exeter KTP plays key role in the manufacturing process of the new Covid-19 vaccine

The project has meant that the equipment needed to create the new vaccine can be produced more efficiently and effectively.

University of Exeter KTP plays key role in the manufacturing process of the new Covid-19 vaccine

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Exeter and Smart Manufacturing Ltd is playing a direct and key role in the production process of the new COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts from the University have been working with the Devon-based manufacturing company to optimise the production of some of the equipment used to create the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The new vaccine was approved for use last week, with more than half a million doses of the vaccine ready for use from the beginning of January.

Smart Manufacturing is a small manufacturing company specialised in industrial equipment especially for pharmaceutical and food industries aiming to increase the efficiency and productivity of the customers’ processes.

One of the company’s customers, a Fortune 500 Company with operations in North Devon, produces highly specialised filters used in various pharmaceutical applications – including the new vaccine.

Via the KTP project, part-funded by Innovate UK, KTP Associate, Sam Abraham, has been working on developing and improving the equipment performances full-time since March.

Prior to this, he has applied his expertise to improve the production flow of ATEX certified products, and created a set of procedures to ensure their compliance with ATEX regulations which guide the design and operation of equipment in explosive environments.

The project has meant that the equipment needed to create the new vaccine can be produced more efficiently and effectively.

The KTP academic lead is Ion Sucala, Associate Professor in Engineering Management at the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

”The right blend of academic and practical capabilities developed during the KTP helped in the design of a much more efficient process and that has been instrumental in the success of this project,” said Martin Murch, the Managing Director of Smart Manufacturing, “It has also put us in pole position in winning and executing similar projects in the future.”

Prof Ion Sucala said: “The KTP is a part of the wide-ranging collaboration between Smart Manufacturing and the University of Exeter which has been ongoing for more than 5 years. Not only has Smart Manufacturing benefitted from this partnership but also many of our students who undertake projects with the company and had first-hand experiences in a British manufacturing company. This has enriched their understanding of an SME manufacturing environment.”

Professor Zhongdong Wang, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean at the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: “I am delighted that the University, and colleagues in the College have played such a pivotal role in  helping to deliver this COVID-19 vaccine.

“KTPs such as this not only provide crucial support for businesses across the South -West region and beyond, but also enable researchers to share their expertise where it is most needed.

The work carried out by Professor Sucala and his team has made a fundamental difference to this project, and also highlights the value of long-term relationships with the University’s business partners.“

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme – which links forward thinking businesses with specialist academic teams to drive a strategic innovation project – has been running for 45 years and helped more than 14,000 UK businesses innovate for growth.

KTN plays a key part in the delivery of the KTP programme via a network of 31 specialist Knowledge Transfer Advisers who support each project.

The Adviser on this KTP is Dr Andy Treen who commented: “The knowledge and skills embedded by the KTP project will provide a firm foundation for future innovation by Smart Manufacturing in a number of industry sectors requiring ATEX compliance.

“It is fantastic that Sam and the team at Smart have been able to apply the KTP knowledge to support the critical scale-up of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine manufacturing programme.”

Date: 7 January 2021