Compare: How strict are your uni’s halls being to control the spread of COVID-19?

Some are banning visitors, others are more lax

With A-level results a few weeks away, year 13s up and down the country will be asking themselves whether university this year really is worth it. Face-to-face teaching seems like it’s going to continue until at least the new year and nightlife prospects are looking increasingly bleak as venues close one-by-one.

But what’s going to happen in halls? Reports have already come in of certain uni accommodations banning parties and visitors. How they’ll police it is anyone’s guess, but not all universities have adopted the same approach.

The Tab contacted 30 universities about whether they will be forming students into social bubbles based on courses and how they will be enforcing social distancing. Only a handful sent bespoke responses, several referred back to FAQ pages on websites, others said nothing at all. We trawled through the 30 unis’ websites, too, and found some already have very detailed (and strict) plans in place for September, while others provided minimal detail and promises to firm up plans later down the line. This is how their approaches compare:


Soton’s website tells students the allocation of halls will not change for domestic students. International students will have to quarantine depending on which country they’re coming from and what rules are in place at that time. Students will be given their own private wash basins, bathrooms will be restricted to four people and halls to eight.Face coverings will be enforced in communal areas. As for what happens if social distancing is broken, the university website refers students to the Regulations governing Non-academic Misconduct.


Birmingham Uni’s website hasn’t been updated since July 8 and information regarding accommodation is sparse. The page says they are “taking steps” to keep accommodation safe, however plans are still being finalised.


Nottingham halls will be provided with hand sanitiser stations and staff will be provided with protective equipment, according to their website. Buildings will be labelled for easier one-way travel and larger social spaces will be open for gatherings provided social distancing is adhered to. Bathrooms are being assigned groups of four. Those living in catered halls will be allowed to collect meals in a contact-free system.


Depending on what the government says next, Bristol says certain room types may be unavailable to undergrads in September. Further information on their website mainly concerns outgoing freshers collecting things from halls.


All accommodation-related pages on the university’s website are marked with a disclaimer that information is subject to change, but no further information about accommodation specifically is displayed.


Leeds’s website has a page with guidance on social distancing in halls. Arrivals will be staggered in September and further information will be given the freshers when they arrive. As for whether freshers will be allowed to have visitors, the website says restrictions might be put on visitors depending on government guidance.


Checking the web pages of various Durham colleges reveals little about specific coronavirus provisions. The main page says student returns will be in phases, but aside from limited room capacity and general sanitary advice there is little mention of halls.


UCL students will be unable to apply for twin rooms, single rooms with shared bathrooms or catered accommodation. Plans are in the works for students to use communal spaces in keeping with social distancing, however the website explicitly forbids parties or social gatherings and visitors are not allowed. New and “enhanced” cleaning regimes are already in place and 24-hour security will be in effect.


A spokesperson for Coventry told The Tab they did not intend to create “social bubbles” or allocate halls based on course. The university said social spaces would remain open, but numbers would be limited. Sanitisers will be placed in halls as well. Residence Officers supported by the University Protection Service manage halls 7am-7pm Monday-Friday and 24 hours over the weekend.


Royal Holloway’s website has a very detailed FAQs section, in which it is said course bubbles in halls will not be enforced, provided government guidelines don’t change. Longer opening hours for dining roms are being considered to maintain social distancing.


One question on the coronavirus FAQs page on Lincoln’s website reads “will university life still be fun?” which is answered with plans to hold outdoor cinema screenings and street food events, all in compliance with social distancing. Social distancing will also be maintained in communal areas, including laundry rooms, reception areas, and even lifts. When moving into halls, only one member of the family can help you actually bring stuff in.


QUB’s web page says accommodation will be allocated as normal. Under their FAQs section, they discourage having visitors over without making a request to the accommodation team.


Little mention is made of the specifics of halls in Sussex Uni’s coronavirus advice page. However sanitisers will be provided across the main sanitiser and social distancing will continue.


In the “home from home” section of its website, Lancaster Uni says individual households will be asked to move in together at the same time and will remain socially distanced from other groups. Arrivals will be staggered and the arrival period will be extended to accommodate it.


“As you would expect the rules and measures are strict and comprehensive involving deep cleans, additional cleaning continually, managing the flow of people to enable social distancing,” reads Brookes’s website. Timing of arrivals will be managed more carefully this year to ensure social distancing is maintained and student wardens will be in place to help freshers.


Households within Sheffield halls will have to keep their distance from other households, as is the case at most unis. Increased cleaning has also been promised. The website also states clearly that going back and forth between home and uni will be in breach of social distancing. Freshers will be able to stay overnight at another household, but must maintain social distancing (i.e. no shagging, soz).


Cardiff students will be required to socially distance from halls residents they don’t live with. Two-metre social distancing will be maintained at the university until January 2021. No further information is given on their website about how this will be enforced.


Liverpool are enforcing a phased and contactless arrivals process, use of automatic gates and doors, tailored warden welcome and induction events, ‘quarantine’ support for overseas students and new cleaning regimes in on-campus halls. Students can make a one-off move to their accommodation, you can still form a bubble with other households but Liverpool stress that it can’t be more than six.


Students sharing a house are a household, guidelines given to students when they arrive in their halls to keep social distancing. Student support will mostly be over the phone and only in very serious circumstances will someone attend to assist. Halls will be running a series of events which will be virtual and small group face-to-face activities too. They are working on providing an online training course for students who will have to complete prior to arrival.


The flat you’re in is your household, and staff will provide professional cleaning, inspect rooms before you move in, keep communal areas open but still abide by social distancing, all rooms have high-speed broadband for remote teaching. College teams can help.


Students have to book an arrival slot to move in, all rooms, bathrooms and kitchens will be sanitised for when students arrive, every residence will have an enhanced cleaning programme, one way systems have been introduced and limited numbers of people are allowed in communal areas.


Residential Life Tutors will arrange students in campus accommodation into kitchen groups which is the group of people you’ll share a kitchen with. The size of this group depends on the hall you’re allocated. Students can interact freely with their kitchen group and maintain social distancing with others. As usual, there are wardens and tutors present in the halls.


Exeter are planning on reopening their student communal areas such as the Forum and Stannary and planning on abiding with social distancing rules to keep students safe.


Students in houses will be part of a household and will be able to socialise within their household. Bournemouth student accommodation consists of multiple private providers, so they have to make their own rules. There aren’t any wardens in halls, but all students have 24/7 access to security.


Students living in college accommodation and sharing facilities with others will form a ‘household’ with these students. Households are allowed to host other households but you must maintain the social distancing between you all. Any visitors to college sites must be met outside the college and the college porter needs to be aware of any visitors entering, but each college has different rules about visitors. If you form a bubble with another household and someone in your bubble has symptoms, you need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Things you'll only experience if you've been a resident of ...


Students living in-college will be grouped into households and will be able to share high contact facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. These arrangements haven’t been confirmed yet and are provisional.


Edinburgh students are following guidelines set out by the Scottish Government which provide clear information around the formation of households. Students communities are encouraged to engage in socially responsible behaviour. All common rooms will be closed until government restrictions are lifted. Signage around the University will keep students aware of how far apart they must be. In catered halls, one-way systems and signage at the entrance will be implemented, along with reduced seating capacities and extra dining spaces. Wardens have already been working in lockdown in halls so they’re experienced and ready for this, and the team has been strengthened by the addition of a mental health professional who will provide extra counselling and support.


Although the COVID presence is receding there’s still plans to improve safety in the university, such as: limiting number of students/staff in buildings, one-way systems in buildings, give students and staff masks.

What your halls say about you


St Andrews buildings are sorted into categories A-C depending on their importance on-campus, A meaning you can always access with a card, C meaning the building is closed. A is Halls, and you’ll always need a card to get in which can help monitor who enters/leaves the buildings to trace any infections.


Aberdeen are opening all their halls for prospective students, and every building has hand sanitiser stations at the entrance. The uni has made social media pages for new students to find and talk to people online if they don’t get along with people in their households. Most uni welcome packs have some sort of instant noodle packet and welcome information, but Aberdeen are including a mask, a pair of gloves, a thermometer, and a mini hand sanitiser. How sweet.

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