Updates: The actions universities are taking on coronavirus

We will update this story regularly


Universities across the country are continuing to put measures in place to tackle the spread of coronavirus after Friday’s initial flurry of action.

Although universities have not been told to close by the government as of yet, many are taking action including cancelling lectures, postponing graduations, and changing exams. Varsities, ski trips and open days have also been cancelled.

This article will be updated regularly today as universities take additional action.

If your uni is taking action, let us know by emailing [email protected] or DMing @thetab_ on Instagram. Thanks to everyone who’s sent us info so far.

Update: Tuesday 6pm – Today’s final update: UEA warns students stolen hand sanitiser won’t be replaced, and drug dealers adapt to the pandemic

Today’s big press conference: A straight substitution on the right wing, as Chancellor Rishi Sunak replaced Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty to the side of Boris Johnson. Sunak announced a £330bn loans package for businesses, with more to come as needed.

If it wasn’t before, it’s all gone a bit Lord of the Flies in Norwich. Freshers living in UEA halls have been told to stop stealing hand sanitiser or it won’t be replaced.

UEA medics will also be able to graduate without doing their final exams. Instead, the uni will assess their performance over the whole of their degree. Bad news for anyone planning to bring it back in finals.

Drug dealers are adapting to the crisis better than any of us, frankly. From sanitising baggies to organising no-contact drop-off points, they’re rolling out extensive measures.

Update: 5pm – Graduations at Exeter postponed, but we can tell you how to make your room look less grim for online seminars

Exeter has postponed all graduations, telling students: “All ceremonies will definitely be postponed, not cancelled. But it could be up to 9 months later.” The one upside is that graduation gowns might keep people warm by then, rather than act as giant sweat incubators.

Manchester SU has cancelled gigs, club nights, and the uni’s grad ball.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been worrying about how to look like you’ve got your shit together during online seminars, worry no longer. Here’s a guide on how to make your uni room look peng for your online seminars, even when it’s not.

Students at Sussex have been flocking to Brighton beach for sunset. We’re unsure whether this counts as non-essential social contact, but it sounds fun. One student said: “We thought it was the best place to meet for one last drink before everything gets shut down. It’s an open space and we didn’t come into contact with any of the other visitors.”

Update: 4pm – More unis move classes online, close facilities and cancel events

The University of Southampton has announced it classes and exams will be moved online for the rest of the year. The uni is already on its Easter break, having brought it forward by a week. Halls and the library are staying open.

Manchester Uni has closed its buildings and cancelled face-to-face teaching, moving it online. Its Halls are staying open.

Sheffield is shutting all its libraries from 9am tomorrow. All classes have already been moved online.

Oxford Brookes has closed its sports facilities and suspended all sporting events.

A student has spoken to The Tab about her experience of self-isolating in her uni room. She describes women in hazmat suits coming to test her, smoking rollies out of the window and her flatmates sliding wraps under her bedroom door.

Update: 3pm – More varsities cancelled, but one brave club night carries on

Another wave of varsities have been called off. Sheffield v Sheffield Hallam, Cardiff v Swansea, and Bath v Cardiff Met are all cancelled.

However, a club in Coventry planning a “toilet roll and hand sanitizer giveaway” event. When asked by The Tab whether it was still going ahead, Kasbah defiantly pointed out that government advice  for punters to avoid clubs was just that – advice. Sending a picture of the dictionary definition of the word “rule”, they called the query a stupid question.

Bath Uni has also called off lectures, but libraries remain open.

Update: 1pm – The York/Lancaster Roses varsity has been cancelled

As uni sports showdowns go, York and Lancaster’s Roses clash is up there. I mean, other rivalries might have history, but this has an actual war behind it. Which makes its cancellation all the more gutting.

Leeds students studying on a year abroad say they’re stuck. One student in Turkey says: “I’ve resigned myself to being stuck here but it’s all good.”

It is with regret that I must introduce you to the “coronavirus challenge”. TikTokkers are licking…the toilets…in aeroplanes…to get likes? If the case for quarantining all influencers wasn’t strong enough before COVID-19, it sure is now.

Update: 12pm – All BUCS activity suspended, Birmingham stops library fines

All BUCS activity will be suspended from midnight tonight. Sporting and non-sporting activity will not be taking place until 9am on April 1st.

The University of Birmingham library will not be fining students during the period of disruption due to coronavirus. Loans will automatically renew, and students can either keep hold of their books or post them back to the library. Birmingham’s SU has also cancelled all events until the end of term.

Leeds Beckett has become the next university to suspend all classes, with teaching moving online from next Monday.

Lincoln’s Students’ Union has stopped all physical SU activities and events, but many of the city’s nightclubs are remaining open, telling people to “party responsibly”.

Update: Tuesday, 11am – Good morning, and welcome back to the updates. Another wave of unis have taken drastic action in the wake of the PM’s press conference yesterday evening

King’s students have been told to return home where possible. Students unable to work home have been reassured they’ll receive the uni’s full support. History students at the uni are now able to submit their dissertations digitally and do open-book exams.

Hull has cancelled all teaching, including laboratories. ” We have decided that all classroom, laboratory, skills, seminar, tutorial and one-to-one teaching will be suspended with immediate effect,” the uni’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea, wrote in an email to staff and students.

Cardiff Uni is shutting several libraries from Friday, including the Grade II* listed main library. The round-the-clock sweatbox that is the ASSL will remain open. Schools at the university are beginning to tell students physical exams won’t take place.

Leeds has closed all its libraries indefinitely.

The University of Exeter has cancelled face-to-face classes, as have Liverpool John Moores, the University of Birmingham, and Ulster.

Sheffield’s campus is deserted – check out the pictures which could just have easily been taken on a Thursday morning after sports night.

Students at Birmingham’s business school have been emailed saying a member of staff is suspected of having coronavirus and is being treated in hospital.

Discontent is growing among students at some unis. An Edinburgh student who sent an open letter to their Vice Chancellor demanding more action was met with a perhaps-justified, but salty, reply saying “Excuse me now while I get back to dealing with the threat to the very lives of our community…”. The exchange is worth a read.

Cambridge students are kicking off about what they see as a lack of clarity from their university, as the uni says it’s in an “amber” phase and tries to continue business as usual.

Update: 6pm – Don’t go to the pub, and self-isolate if your flatmate shows any symptoms, says new advice

If you missed the big press conference, here’s a summary the latest government advice, intended to help slow the spread of the virus:

• Avoid pubs, clubs, and restaurants

• Avoid non-essential travel

• Self-isolate for 14 days if any of your housemates show symptoms

It’s pretty drastic, but if you’re thinking staying in your shitty student house for two weeks is intolerable, it’ll probably save lives.

In uni news:

The Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race has been cancelled.

Coventry, Aberdeen’s RGU, and Strathclyde have cancelled face-to-face lectures.

Update: 5pm – Nottingham Trent moves classes online

Nottingham Trent is stopping face-to-face teaching today. Classes will start again next Monday, but will be online.

In Norwich, a UEA student is self-isolating after he kissed a girl with coronavirus on a night out in Falmouth. He came into “very close contact” with a flatmate’s friend who has today been confirmed to have the virus, and he is now isolating for 14 days.

Update: 4pm – NUS cancel their annual conference and two more unis scrap face-to-face classes

In devastating news for budding student politicos, the NUS has taken the decision to cancel its national conference, due to take place in Liverpool at the end of the month. Instead, the conference will be conducted online, meaning the most important issues of the day will not go un-debated.

A Cardiff Uni intramural rugby team are self-isolating after having a pres at a house which had been previously visited by a coronavirus-positive student. The team went to JUICE, Cardiff’s Saturday SU night, afterwards, but doctors have said there is “no need to worry” for JUICE attendees.

Newcastle University has cancelled all face-to-face teaching from tomorrow.

York has cancelled all exams and classes, with first year exams cancelled completely. All other exams will move online.

Update: 3:30pm – Warwick cancels classes and exams

University of Warwick has cancelled all face-to-face classes and exams. Teaching will either be online or postponed, and summer exams will be replaced with “alternative assessments”.

Update: 3pm – Queen’s University Belfast suspends face-to-face teaching

After a student at the university tested positive for coronavirus, Queen’s University Belfast has told students it will be moving all teaching online from Wednesday.

The University of Surrey will be suspending all in-person teaching from next Monday (23rd March) but that students can choose whether or not to come to class in the meantime.

Update: Monday, 2pm – universities have continued to take measures over the weekend

Sheffield Hallam and Cardiff have joined other UK unis and moved all classes online, starting next Monday, after a “transition” period this week. Sussex Uni have suspended all of this week’s classes, and online teaching will similarly start from next Monday. Exeter’s Law department has moved all classes and assessments online for the rest of the academic year, starting today.

In Cambridge, Queen’s and Churchill Colleges have asked students to return home. Both Colleges have suggested students should take all their belongings with them when they leave, due to the possibility they may be unable to return.

The University of Glasgow has cancelled an offer-holders’ day, after three members of the University community tested positive for coronavirus. Instead of the offer-holders’ day, the University is holding a “virtual event” in April.

Social Science students at Southampton have had their dissertation deadlines extended by a week, due to the disruption to teaching caused by coronavirus. The university shut for Easter a week early, on Friday.

A student at Exeter has tested positive for coronavirus, although they haven’t been on campus for several days and tested positive at home, abroad. Members of staff at Birmingham are suspected of having contracted coronavirus and are self-isolating.

Downing College Cambridge have been accused of xenophobia, after the College’s official Instagram page posted a joke “making light of coronavirus”, satirising the responses of different nationalities to coronavirus with references to the Blitz, the Spanish Armada and France’s WWII surrender. Students called the post “rampantly xenophobic” and “highly problematic”, saying: “humour isn’t going to get us through a pandemic”.

A Royal Holloway student pinned fake posters to doors in the University, saying the rooms had been infected with coronavirus and were unsafe to enter. The University said there are no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus on the campus, and the student responsible has been disciplined.

York, Southampton, Bristol and Sheffield unis have all had their Easter ski trips cancelled. 225 York students had actually already arrived in Avoriaz, just hours before the French government announced the closing of all non-essential public areas.

And finally, in news that broke the hearts of VSCO girls everywhere, Urban Outfitters announced that all their stores worldwide are closed “until further notice” – and at least until March 28th – due to coronavirus.

Update: 8pm – Liverpool cancels classes and exams

The University of Liverpool has cancelled all face-to-face teaching for the remainder of the academic year. Summer exams will be done through “alternative means”, and the libraries will stay open, with “seating restrictions”. Despite all the restrictions being made, the university says they “fully expect” students to still be able to graduate this summer.

Update: 1:30pm – new confirmed coronavirus cases at King’s, Southampton and Glasgow

King’s College London has confirmed five students and members of staff are now infected with coronavirus. They are all in self-isolation.

There has been a confirmed case of coronavirus at the University of Southampton’s campus. The infected person was a visitor, not a student or member of staff, and their movements are being “traced”. Students have been advised not to enter one of the uni buildings over the weekend, as a “precaution”.

In Glasgow, three members of the university community have tested positive for coronavirus, and are being advised to self-isolate. The university “will remain open”, with teaching online, and discussions are underway regarding postponing conferences and other events.

Update: Saturday, 10am – Imperial, UCL and Glasgow move classes and exams online

UCL have suspended face-to-face teaching for the rest of the academic year, with classes being online from Monday. Exams are being replaced with online alternative assessments, with the amount of formal assessment for first years to be “significantly reduced”. International and exchange students have been advised to return home.

At Imperial, all teaching will be moved online from Monday, and from Wednesday all exams will be delivered remotely for the rest of the semester. Any exams which can’t be sat remotely will be rescheduled.

The University of Glasgow has also moved all teaching online from Monday. It had already announced that sit-down exams are cancelled, and is working out how students will be alternatively assessed.

Update: 8pm – Manchester moves classes online, some Cambridge students sent home

Manchester Uni plans to move all teaching online by the 27th of March. All classes with over 100 students will be online from Monday, and smaller classes will move online in the next two weeks.

Trinity College has become the first of the Cambridge colleges to send its students home for the Easter break. Self-isolating students have been told to make their own arrangements as the college has “very limited capacity” to provide additional facilities “in the event of large-scale self-isolation”.

York has told students on their year abroad that there are contingency plans in place, and they are able to “request a waiver” of the component of their degree that acts as evidence of attendance on their year abroad. Students were told if they “want to return to the UK” it “is their choice”.

Southampton medical students’ placements have been cancelled due to coronavirus, but nursing placements at the uni will “continue as normal”.

Update: 5:30pm – King’s cancel classes, Bristol tell students on group projects to avoid each other, and Sheffield uni building in lockdown

Sheffield Uni’s Arts Tower is in lockdown after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. Floors 9-19 of the tower are shut until Wednesday 18th March for deep cleaning, according to an email sent to students, while the staff member self-isolates.

King’s College London have cancelled their classes, whilst gatherings of over 50 people are “to be offered virtually, postponed or cancelled until, at the very earliest, the start of May 2020.”

The NUS are looking at “contingency plans” for their National Conference. The gathering of student politicos is due to take place in Liverpool at the end of the month, but the union are “working on ways in which the business of our conferences can take place remotely.”

Plymouth has cancelled international field trips, but as of this afternoon is intending for business to continue as usual. Tomorrow’s applicant day is going ahead.

University of Bristol management have emailed students with a hefty statement. Aside from telling students on group projects not to meet up, the uni say summer graduations aren’t yet cancelled, but will be “subject to review”.

Southampton’s Varsity against Portsmouth has also been cancelled. However, many of the city’s clubs are defiantly remaining open, albeit with extra soap dispensers. Just don’t Google “Jesters four corners challenge”.

Update: 5pm – Edinburgh cancels exams for first and second years

Alongside suspending teaching, the University of Edinburgh has cancelled this semester’s exams for first and second years. Third and fourth years will take exams online, as the uni rushes to reassure them that “students will achieve their qualifications on time and an Edinburgh degree will still hold the same value.”

Sussex’s snowsports society has also cancelled its trip to Andorra. “We are absolutely heartbroken not to be skiing and partying with you all this Easter”, the society said, with the tangible disappointment of students having to trade apres for self-isolation.

Cambridge’s Girton College, meanwhile, are pressing ahead with their 1400-person Spring Ball.

Update: 4:30pm – UEA cancels classes and moves teaching online

Norwich’s University of East Anglia has told students all classes will be delivered online from Monday. Fans of sub-par brutalist architecture will be delighted to hear, however, that UEA’s concrete campus remains open.

Update: 4pm – Birmingham could cancel exams worth less than half of a module, more Varsities called off

Good(ish) news for Birmingham students: staff have been given the option to simply cancel exams worth 50 per cent or less of a module. Online versions of exams are also being prepared, as the uni steps up plans.

Less good news for sports fans. Along with all the proper sport being cancelled, Varsity clashes are biting the dust. The titans of Royal Holloway will no longer go both head-to-head and toe-to-toe with the equally titanic Surrey, as their showdown has been cancelled.

The UCL vs KCL football match has also been called off. Without their rivalry, the two London unis will simply have nothing to talk about.

A student at St Andrews has tested positive for coronavirus after returning from Switzerland.

Update: 3:30pm – Bristol to cancel classes from Wednesday, Glasgow Varsity cancelled hours from kick-off

Bristol will be ending teaching from Wednesday, but libraries and wellbeing services will remain open. So far, nine unis have cancelled face-to-face teaching.

Glasgow’s rugby Varsity match has been cancelled three hours before kick-off, with the team saying: “There’s no-one more disappointed than our boys.”

Lancaster’s SU club Sugar will be closing for the final week of term. Staff will still be paid for any shifts they were scheduled to do next week. In a double gut-punch for students somehow still looking to be in a confined space, My Nu Leng have also cancelled tomorrow’s Brighton show.

Biomed students at Southampton are being given dissertation extensions, whilst Lincoln join Sussex in having their sports tour to Croatia cancelled.

Update: 3pm – Bristol SU cancel election results event and Edinburgh chemistry students have labs cancelled

In a rather optimistic appraisal of how many people engage with student politics, Bristol SU have cancelled their election results night, which was due to be held this evening. Bristol students will also find out tonight whether they’re leaving the NUS.

At Edinburgh, Chemistry students will have all teaching delivered online from Monday. Teaching labs at the uni are closing at 5pm.

SOAS has confirmed its first case of coronavirus on campus, however staff have told students “activities should continue as normal”.

In other news, coronavirus is having a serious impact on people’s sex lives. Read about the self-isolating shagging dilemmas here.

Update: 2:30pm – Nottingham to cancel lectures, Oxford confirm six students have coronavirus

The University of Nottingham has told students face-to-face lectures, seminars, and tutorials will be replaced with online teaching from 23rd March. Next week will be a “transition period” as the university steps up preparations for virtual learning.

Oxford has confirmed six students have tested positive coronavirus, whilst announcing Easter exams are being cancelled or rearranged. Undergrads are being told to return home as soon as possible after the end of term, but the university says it plans to remain open “as far as possible”.

Cardiff University are “closely monitoring” the Welsh Varsity, with Cardiff still set to take on Swansea in the sporting showdown. Tomorrow’s Wales v Scotland Six Nations clash has also been postponed.

1pm – universities across the country step up measures to tackle coronavirus

Exams will be taken from home or cancelled

Unis doing this: King’s College London, Warwick, Glasgow, Cambridge

King’s College London has told students they will not be holding “conventional unseen exams” in the upcoming exam periods, with Law students set to sit take-home exams

Warwick has cancelled a Business exam after 100 students threatened to boycott it. Students  were notified that their exam, due to take place this evening, had been cancelled “on the grounds of concerns about security after a “discussion with the university.”

Glasgow University has cancelled all physical exams set to take place in April.

Cambridge medics students have had final exams cancelled, as the university’s School of Clinical Medicine calls off Spring exams. One medic said “the collective mood is subdued… disbelief, relief, but also a real sense of foreboding re the gravity of COVID-19″.

Lectures are being cancelled, with classes moved online

Unis doing this so far: Durham, Lancaster, Liverpool, Southampton, Man Met, Northumbria, LSE

Durham has cancelled all in-person classes until the end of term. Instead, teaching will be delivered online. Accommodation will operate as usual, the university has said.

Lancaster University has suspended all classroom teaching from the start of next week. The university’s Vice Chancellor told students: “This does not mean the university is closing and students living on campus will be able to continue to do so. It may mean, however, that we have to organise some of our core activities differently.”

Liverpool students are being given the choice to study online, whilst all public events at the university have been cancelled.

Southampton University has brought the end of term forward a week, meaning the university will close for Easter today.

Manchester Metropolitan is suspending face-to-face teaching from 27th March onwards, but will stop teaching earlier if government advice changes.

Northumbria University will stop classroom-based teaching.

LSE will be delivering all teaching online from Monday 23rd March, whilst the university’s campus and halls remain open.

Graduations are being postponed

Unis doing this: Coventry, Southampton

Coventry University told students due to graduate in spring that their ceremonies will be postponed. Instead, the university will post certificates to students.

Southampton University has postponed summer graduations “until further notice”, in order to make space for a longer academic year.

Measures are being put in place for self-isolating students

Nottingham students in the privately-owned Raleigh Park halls have been told they’ll be given microwaves if they self-isolate.

The University of Bristol has ordered 1,000 takeaway boxes to help self-isolating students.

Exeter evicted 27 freshers to make room to quarantine students returning from Italy. Unsurprisingly, those being evicted weren’t too keen on the idea, unveiling a “BLOCK A WE STAY” banner in protest.

Trips, international travel, and placements are being cancelled

Unis doing this: Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Sussex, Durham

Cardiff University has cancelled all international trips.

Sheffield University has cancelled all international travel for its staff and students.

Maths students at Birmingham are being told not to return to their placements.

For Sussex students, the annual sports tour to Croatia has been cancelled after the travel company cancelled all tours to Croatia. An Art History trip to Rome held by the university has also been cancelled.

Durham students on their year abroad have been told to return immediately. One student in St Petersburg said: “I’m shitting it that they’ll shut the UK border and I’ll be stuck in Russia”.