The SU Update:
COVID-19


The following is the latest update from Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union which details our current response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We will continue to update this page with any new information as the situation develops. Please keep checking your University emails for up-to-date information and advice.

April 2020: 

Along with other Universities, students’ unions, and other higher education facilities around the world, The SU is responding to the evolving situation regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. As ever, our highest priority is the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, and any further action we take will be with this concern most firmly in mind. We recognise that these are exceptional circumstances – as a result of which we have been responding on a day to day basis. We will continue to update students via our website and social media channels as the situation changes.

 


What's On Your Mind?

We have all found ourselves in uncharted territory, and as your Students' Union we have created this survey to give our members the opportunity to tell us what areas of your student experience we, and the Universities, should be focusing on over the coming weeks. The more students complete it, the better picture we will build of what things are going well, what less well, and of any ideas/resources, which may be of use to other students that we can share.

↓ View the latest reports from the survey ↓


Accessing our Advice Service remotely

The Students' Union's Advice Service is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. Email advice@thesu.org.uk with your enquiry or to ask for an appointment. Adviser appointments are available by phone or Microsoft Teams.

Weekly President Updates

Weekly updates from your SU Presidents.

 


Online Communities & Opportunities

Following the postponement of in-person group activities, we are pleased to say that we are continuing to support all of the wonderful student activities that are now taking place online. Please take a look at the links below to see what actitivies you can still get involved in.   

The mental and physical wellbeing of students and staff remains our main concern. We are continuing to work with the Universities during this time, ensuring all actions and decisions are made with the University Community in mind. Stay safe and look after each other. We thank you for your continued support as we adapt during this time.

Please do keep an eye on this page for more information about our services.


FAQ

Message from the Accommodation Team: The Accommodation Team is finalising a process to allow you to return to collect your belongings from the University or University-nominated accommodation in a safe and organised way that protects you, as well as those students who remain in their accommodation, and the University staff who are working on-site to support them.

You will receive an email to your University account by Monday 1 June, which will include details on how you will be able to book a slot to return to your room at a pre-allocated time to collect your belongings. This email will also contain information about what options are available to you if you are unable to return to collect your belongings.

Please wait until we have confirmed these plans before making any travel arrangements. Penryn Security teams will continue to monitor access to University residences, and you will not be allowed to access your accommodation without an agreed time slot.

If you usually live in private accommodation, we would also urge you not to travel to collect items at this time, and to speak with your landlord about how you might be able to do this safely and with social distancing restrictions in place. If you are living in an off-campus nominated accommodation property, please refer to the operating company’s website for further details on collecting your belongings.

If you are an international student with belongings still in your accommodation, we will contact you separately to discuss arrangements for returning your belongings.

By signing a tenancy agreement, the parties (i.e. landlord and tenants) become ‘bound’ by its terms. Among the tenants’ obligations is a requirement to pay rent. Unless the agreement includes a ‘break-clause’, the requirement to pay rent continues through to the end of the period of the tenancy – for students, commonly 12 months. Even without the Covid-19 outbreak, a surplus of houses for rent was likely for September. Given the outbreak that surplus might be bigger than it would otherwise have been. Therefore, probably if some students delay finding accommodation until, say, August (or even later), probably they will still secure a house or flat for next year. By giving yourself some additional time, you can wait to see how the next couple of months unfold. What any student or group of students does is very much their decision, but for the time-being it might be best to delay entering into a new tenancy agreement and, instead, wait and see what happens over the next few months.

Several students have contacted the Students’ Union seeking clarity about rent and, in particular, whether they still have to pay it or can move out without further liability.

Below is a summary of what we understand to be the current position for students living in the various different types of accommodation.

Glasney, Kimberley Townhouses, Montezuma House, Packsaddle and Tuke House
FX Plus manage this accommodation and has emailed all students who rent rooms there.

If you do not intend to occupy your room in Glasney, Kimberley Townhouses, Montezuma House, Packsaddle and Tuke House accommodation after the Easter break (i.e. from 25 April), you can request that FX Plus releases you from your accommodation contract. The position is slightly different for Exeter and Falmouth students.
• Exeter students: you can request to be released from your accommodation contract for the last two weeks of Term 2 and all of Term 3, so that you will not be charged from 14 March. Exeter students should complete this online accommodation form
• Falmouth students: you will not be charged the third term’s instalment of your rent (eight weeks). Falmouth students should complete and return this form

All students who rent a room in any of Glasney, Kimberley Townhouses, Montezuma House, Packsaddle and Tuke House must complete and submit their particular form by Friday 17 April whether you wish to be released from your contract, or to remain in your accommodation.

You can request to be released, even if you have belongings in the room. In line with government guidance, you will be unable to collect any items until the current travel and social distancing measures are lifted. Please note that it is as a condition of the offer to terminate your contract that FX Plus reserves the right to pack up and securely store your belongings if operational obligations require it. Updates will be sent to you, so please make sure you continue to check your University email account.

If you plan to stay in university accommodation until the end of end of your contract, you will continue to pay rent in the normal way. In addition, if you want to stay in university accommodation beyond the end of your current contract, you will be able to – to discuss this further contact accommodation@fxplus.ac.uk

Maritime Studios and Ocean View
Hello Student manage this accommodation. Below is details of their ‘early release’ scheme.

If you have moved out, or want to move out early, subject to completing the procedure set out below, Hello Student will not charge you any rent from 25 April 2020 onwards. If you have paid in advance, you will receive a refund.

In order to meet the conditions of the rent payment credit from 25 April 2020, you will need to:
• Complete the ‘Early Release Form’ on this link by 5pm on 17 April 2020
• Ensure that you are up to date with your rent payments up to and including the 24 April 2020
• Ensure you have paid any ’other’ charges on your Hello Student account.
• Confirm that you have moved out by 25 April 2020
The Early Release Form asks for more information regarding your current status and whether you have moved out completely or if you still have belongings in your flat which you still need to dispose of or arrange for collection before the 25 April 2020.

If Hello Student does not hear from you by Friday 17 April 2020, they will assume that you are continuing to live with them.

The Sidings
CRM Students manage this accommodation.

Both Exeter and Falmouth students can request to be released early from their accommodation agreement. The process is the same as for students living in Glasney or Packsaddle.
• Exeter students: you can request to be released from your accommodation contract for the last two weeks of Term 2 and all of Term 3, so that you will not be charged from 14 March.
• Falmouth students: you will not be charged the third term’s instalment of your rent.

ALL Sidings students need to make contact with the onsite accommodation team to confirm you wish to be released from contract by Friday 17 April

Private sector HMOs, houses and flats
It’s a decision for individual landlords as to whether they are prepared to release their tenants from a tenancy agreement.

If you’ve moved out early or want to move out early, ask your landlord for a release. The worst that can happen is that they say, ‘No’.

If you’re struggling to pay your rent and think you might not be able to pay on time, it's important that you let your landlord know as soon as possible and, having done so, update them regularly. Here's a draft letter that you might want to adapt to meet your needs. If you need more help, or have any other questions, contact an SU adviser advice@thesu.org.uk).

Financial hardship
If you’re experiencing hardship and are struggling to pay the rent, you could apply for financial support from your university.
• Exeter students: the University has established an Emergency Assistance Fund to help all students in financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 outbreak – Make an application to the Emergency Assistance Fund. The University also administers a Hardship and Retention Fund - Register and apply to the Hardship and Retention fund.
• Falmouth students: The University also administers a Hardship Fund. Applications should be submitted online through My Falmouth under the ‘My Finance’ section.

Yes. The Student Loan Company has confirmed this here.

Depending on a student’s specific circumstances, the answer is ‘Yes’. This year’s maintenance loan entitlement is calculated using household income from the 2017-18 tax year. The loan regulations provide that where household income has fallen by 15% or more, a student can request a reassessment of their loan entitlement using current year income. Each of the household’s earners (e.g. parent(s), partner) should complete form CYI (for Student Finance England).

The forms are different for students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Following new guidance from the government, Penryn and Falmouth Campus Libraries are now closed until further notice. Please hold on to your library items if you can – no need to return them as there are no fines or recalls. More info can be found here.

Details of the University of Exeter’s approach to end of year assessments and mitigation are available here. Once you’ve read that information, if you have any concerns, contact a member of your course team, your course representative, or the Students’ Union Advice Service (advice@thesu.org.uk).

It's important that you let your landlord know as soon as possible and, having done so, update them regularly. Here's a draft letter that you might want to adapt to meet your needs. If you need anymore help, or have any other questions, contact an SU adviser (advice@thesu.org.uk).

Your SU Presidents have also written to the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Monelan, to convey concerns that exist among students who rent private sector accommodation. You can read the letter here.

From our understanding, assessments will be adjusted to ensure you can still meet learning outcomes regardless of the level of access to facilities/equipment. Please make sure to speak with your course team if you are concerned about your level of access to equipment.

Official Falmouth Statement (21 March): Course Teams are looking at the original assessment plans and are permitted to adjust these, as necessary so that you can still demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes. What this means in practice will vary from assessment to assessment. It might mean the following:

  • A change to the brief to make it more achievable
  • A different form of assessment (e.g. photos or recordings of work)
  • It might mean a conversation with your course team about your processes in preparing for assessment
  • An extended deadline
  • Or it could be a combination of things.

The requirements for Falmouth University’s extenuating circumstances process have been reduced so they can provide additional support where needed. However they will still want to understand how the Covid-19 has affected your studies, but they will not be asking for any additional evidence where your EC relates to the pandemic. Additionally, if you have ECs approved for work due in this study block, you can submit up to five days late after the original deadline and have your work marked in time to be considered at the Assessment Board. If you submit after that point, your work will be considered later, without penalty, but this may delay your results.

We are just waiting on further detail on this and students will receive comms about storage/collecting belongings or having them returned to them shortly.

Following government guidelines, the Penryn and Falmouth Campuses are now closed. However, the Penryn Campus Shop is remaining open to support students still living on Campus. The Shop opening hours are:

  • Monday to Friday - 10am – 4pm
  • Saturday - 11am – 4pm
  • Sunday - 11am – 4pm

Payment: Card transactions only.

A retail care package is available for students self-isolating in Halls of Residence on the Penryn Campus. The package will be delivered to your room.

For the time being, probably the short answer is, 'We don't know, but probably you'll be charged at least some of it and possibly all'.

The Students' Union is conscious that, for most undergraduate students, the third (and last) fees instalment is due for payment on the first day of summer term. Also, for most students, that will be paid by way of a tuition fees loan.

Even if all that money is paid out, if it's coming from a loan, it won't cause the student immediate hardship.

The position is different for self-funding students, particularly those who rely on income from employment and that income is now reduced. Students who fall into this group should get advice from the Students’ Union’s Advice Service (advice@thesu.org.uk).

Your University is working hard to deliver the curriculum and, where possible, assessment online. Probably, we need to give the University a chance to do that. If it turns out that it’s not been as effective as it should have been, The Students’ Union will raise the issue with the University and, where appropriate, seek tuition fees refunds. However, right now it’s too early to be going down that route.

Callie (President Falmouth) has put together a report detailing feedback gathered from Reps and how this has been actioned thus far.


Graduation (Falmouth)

For the most up to date advice on this topic, please visit the Falmouth University website.

We are waiting on government guidelines on hosting large events within social distancing constraints, but at this current moment in time it looks unlikely since there can be up to 2000 people on campus at any one time during a Graduation Ceremony, with 7,500 visitors over four days.

There are 2 options that we are exploring:

1) A Virtual Graduation that the University is looking into. This can involve a film being created where you can upload a quote, and a photo. You will also be able to upload a 10 second film of yourself where a gown will be superimposed on to you. We will then run the ceremony as though you were there.

2) That you have a physical graduation in July 2021 which would be done on consecutive days prior to the 2021 cohort on the understanding that mass gatherings will be able to happen at this time.

Yes, The SU want to make sure that your feedback is considered in the decision making for graduation which is why are trying to collect feedback through the student reps.

Yes, you will be able to get a refund from gown hire. However, it would be good to wait a few weeks before you cancel in case you will be able to transfer to another ceremony schedule. The University will notify you of any changes whether it is transferable or they can apply for a refund.

A graduation ball cannot be confirmed until a decision of when and what a graduation will look like, but Callie is in conversations with The Stannary team regarding your graduation experience. A virtual graduation ball is not something that has been considered and Callie will raise this at the next opportunity with The Stannary team.

You would need to contact the company that supplies the robing directly as this is not a University or SU issue.

Yes, you will receive your graduation certificate through the post. You need to make sure you update your address for the certificate to be sent to your home address rather than your university address.

The Poll has been sent out to third year reps to gather feedback which can be used to inform the decision making on the outcome of the graduation.

You will have 2 weeks to collect as much feedback as possible and the deadline will be 2nd June.

No, Gown hire is currently suspended, and please ignore all the current deadlines. The University will be sending out an email shortly, but in the meantime keep an eye on the graduation website as this is where we update with new information.


Useful Links & Information

It continues to be the Universities’ policy to follow the PHE advice about Covid-19, along with guidance from the NHS and the FCO?in the UK. As previously outlined, The SU will take its lead from the Universities and follow its policy and guidelines wherever possible.

Please keep checking your University’s and our website and social media channels for the latest updates. If you have any questions, queries or concerns please contact us at info@thesu.org.uk.


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