Current guidance for students and staff 

The government has changed how we manage COVID and has announced the ‘Living with COVID-19’ strategy.  

  • If you have COVID-19 or display symptoms to indicate that you may have COVID, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days. You can return on day 6 if you no longer have a high temperature and feel well enough to resume normal activities.
  • If you are a residential student at Sparsholt Campus who is experiencing symptoms, please make the residential team aware and they will advise you on best practice  

In order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 you are encouraged to continue: 

  • Regular hand washing 
  • Maintaining appropriate distancing between other people 
  • The wearing of face coverings and regular lateral flow testing by both learners and staff is optional but still encouraged 

We all have a part to play in continuing to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and along with undertaking the above we ask all students to be considerate of others and the college community. 

If you do have any concerns or questions then, in the first instance, please speak to your tutor.  

Return to University Centre Sparsholt FAQs


  • How do I take a Covid test?

    How to take a coronavirus self test swab

  • The disruption caused by coronavirus is affecting my mental health/wellbeing. What support is available to me?

    We understand that this can be a worrying time for some of you returning to your studies, there are a range of resources on Sparsholt Student Services page on Ledge which you may find helpful to support you at this time.

    The Wellbeing team will be available in person to students to support you from the 4 January and can be contacted on .

  • I am facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic

    Students who are facing financial difficulties can contact Student Services for information, advice and support including applying for help from the Sparsholt Hardship fund. Please email

  • We have had some queries regarding whether the college will reimburse the cost of college coaches or accommodation costs at Sparsholt College for the period of the lockdown, where the service is not available or not accessed. Please be assured that the college will undertake a full reconciliation exercise once the full duration of the lockdown is known and we will reimburse for unused service. If you are experiencing financial difficulty at this time, please email and we will discuss a revised payment plan with you. The college is also contacting Stagecoach and South Western Railway to establish if they will reimburse the cost of passes purchased via the college for the period of the lockdown and we will update users once we know their position.

Other Updates


  • Covid Absence Reporting

    Please contact UCS and your tutor if you are unable to attend. Call 01962 797311 or email before 11.00am each day. Please do not just contact your tutor as that will not be recorded as a notified absence.

  • If you become ill, you should:

    • Stay in your room and avoid contact with other people
    • Contact the Warden on 01962 797538 or 07715 043855 or email Alternatively you can contact the Nurse on 01962 797430
    • You may need to take a test for coronavirus and you may be asked to stay in your room until the test results are back, but be reassured you will be cared for by our staff during this time.

  • Wellbeing Support

    The Wellbeing team, based in Student Services, can help and support you remotely or in person. Studying for your degree in a subject that you’re passionate about is exciting, but it can be daunting too especially during the current situation. We know how important it is to stay focused on your studies but we recognise that life can get in the way sometimes. If you are finding things difficult, it is important to know that you are not alone.

    At Home

    For self-help information, video clips, links to websites and general support information, please see Sparsholt Student Services page on Ledge

    On Campus

    For support with anything that is affecting your enjoyment at UCS, please contact Corrina Simmonds to arrange a meeting on Alternatively you may pop into student services during our opening times to arrange an appointment directly.

    If you would like to refer to our counselling service, please see the learner counselling section on Ledge. There is a short referral form to complete, then our counselling coordinator will contact you about arranging an appointment

    Please note our Campus is closed from 23.12.20 to 03.01.21. The Wellbeing team will be available from 4 January 2021 to provide one to one support, please access the on-line resources on Ledge during the closure period



    Tuesday 1 March  


    The government has made some recent changes with regards to the management of COVID and has announced the ‘Living with COVID-19’ strategy.  

    With immediate effect, the key points everyone in the University Centre Sparsholt Community needs to be aware of are: 

    • If you have COVID-19, or suspect you have COVID-19 from the symptoms you are displaying, then you must not come onto campus  
    • You should only return to campus once you have taken two lateral flow tests (two days apart) that confirm you are negative.   The diagram below illustrates how you can return to campus before 10 days 
    • If you are a residential student at Sparsholt Campus who is experiencing symptoms, please make the residential team aware and they will advise you on best practice  



    In order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 you are encouraged to continue: 

    • Regular hand washing 
    • Maintaining appropriate distancing between other people 
    • The wearing of face coverings and regular lateral flow testing by both learners and staff is optional but still encouraged 

    We all have a part to play in continuing to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and along with undertaking the above we ask all students to be considerate of others and the college community. 

    If you do have any concerns or questions then, in the first instance, please speak to your tutor.  



    Updated 26/01/2022

    The Department for Education has amended the guidance previously issued around the wearing of face coverings on campus buses. The current guidance is that we expect and recommend all students to continue to wear face coverings on our campus buses until further notice. We recognise that this will be a source of frustration to some students and seek to reassure you that we will notify you as soon as we are able to lift this restriction.

    Updated 25/01/22 @ 14:00

    The Prime Minster has announced that from Thursday 27 January all Plan B measures will be removed with a full return to Plan A. Sparsholt College Group’s SLT have reviewed what this means for our operations and have decided upon the following.

    With effect from Thursday 27 January:

    • Face coverings will no longer be required in classrooms, communal areas, corridors or catering outlets for students, staff or visitors. Face coverings in some classroom environments may be requested at the discretion of our lecturing staff.
    • We expect and recommend all students to continue to wear face coverings on our campus buses until further notice.
    • One-way systems will be removed however we still expect all in our college community to respect each other’s space.

    With effect from Friday 11 February (04:00hrs):

    • People arriving in England from abroad will no longer have to take Covid tests if they are fully vaccinated (they will only need to verify their status using a passenger locator form). This will facilitate international students returning following the half-term break.

    Whilst our organisation has followed the Department for Education’s guidance fully and removed restrictions, you should continue to follow safer behaviour to protect yourself and others. We would also therefore encourage our college community to get vaccinated and get your booster dose, continue to test twice weekly (whilst supplies are readily available) and to self-isolate if required.

    Thank you for your continued efforts to keep the campus a safe environment,


    Updated 20/01/22 @ 10:00

    Yesterday the Prime Minster announced that all Plan B measures will be removed in England, with a full return to Plan A by Thursday 27 January. The College Group’s leadership team will review what these steps mean for Sparsholt College Group practices on Monday with a subsequent communication hared with our college community following this discussion.

    Therefore ALL current controls will remain in place until further notice with the following exception:

    We are asking staff, students and visitors to continue to wear masks on campus in indoor communal spaces such as corridors and in catering outlets prior to taking a seat, however face coverings are no longer required in classroom environments with immediate effect unless requested at the discretion of lecturing staff.


    Updated 18/01/22 @ 13:00

    If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result. From 17 January, students and staff can stop self-isolating and return to college at the start of day six if they receive two negative rapid lateral flow test results on days five and six, and do not have a raised temperature. Tests must be at least 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, they must wait 24 hours before testing again.


    We have an update on COVID-related matters for our college community following the Government’s announcement over the Christmas holidays.

    Testing for students after the holiday period

    All students and staff should take one self-test at home either the evening or morning before you return to campus in January, then continue to test twice weekly at home.

    Updated guidance on the use of face coverings in education settings

    From Sunday 2 January, it is recommended that face coverings are worn in classrooms. The advice on face coverings in classrooms will be in place until Wednesday 26 January, at which point it will be reviewed.

    Information on the changes to the self-isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID-19

    Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10 day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.

    Individuals may now take LFD tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to college from day 8.

    Daily testing for close contacts of COVID-19

    Students who are fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend college as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.


    Updates 30/11/21 @14:00

    Please see the below letter sent to students from Dean of Higher Education, Caroline James

    Dear Student

    I am writing to provide an update on COVID-related matters for our college community following the Government’s announcement over the last few days. The Prime Minister has announced new rules to help us all protect ourselves and others from a new variant of COVID-19 called Omicron. The Omicron variant has extensive mutations from previous versions of the virus, so we need to take urgent measures to protect ourselves from it. UK Scientists are working hard to find out more about the new variant. In the meantime, we must all follow new guidelines to help slow its spread. Please find below an update on College Group protocols and procedures in response to the Government announcement and subsequent instruction from the Department for Education:

    Face coverings

    It has been our request and strong recommendation since the beginning of term that students wear a face covering on College Group transport and in communal indoor spaces such as corridors, catering and retail outlets. Please can I ask again that, in line with the weekend’s announcements, you continue to support our community by wearing an appropriate face covering in public spaces unless medically exempt from doing so.

    College Transport

    If using College Group transport please ensure that unless you have medical exemption detailed on your college lanyard, that you wear a mask both when getting on and getting off the bus and for the full duration of the journey. I ask for your understanding in order to keep the whole community safe. Our bus and coach companies will not accept students on to their vehicles without a face covering or an exemption in place and will deny access to students not meeting this obligation.

    Testing at home

    I would like to stress how important it is that the whole community works together to limit the spread of infection on campus. Please can we ask you to continue to test using a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) twice each week. Your course tutor can provide you with test kits.


    Current guidance on contact tracing and isolation remains in place. If you test positive for COVID using a Lateral Flow Test, you should then take a further PCR Test.  You should self-isolate whilst waiting for the results of the PCR and if the PCR test subsequently confirms that you have tested positive, you are required to self-isolate for 10 days from the date that you took the PCR test. You must notify your course tutor and / or residential warden if you have tested positive.

    If you are over 18 and unvaccinated and have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for any variant of COVID then you should self-isolate for 10 days. If you are double vaccinated you may not need to isolate.

    Under new rules announced last weekend, regardless of age, if you have come into close contact with a suspected or confirmed Omicron case, you will need to isolate for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated.

    If you are required to self-isolate, please ensure that you notify the college of your absence in the usual way.


    We would ask our whole community to actively consider the option of vaccination and the take up of second dose and booster when/if you are eligible. We believe that prompt take up of the vaccine will enable us to keep our community safe and prevent further interruption to the in-person delivery of education. Any student residing on site who needs to attend a local COVID vaccination clinic is asked to contact the Wardening Team who will be happy to agree a mutually convenient time to provide transportation.


    The College Group is receiving daily updates from the Department for Education. In line with government guidance, all examinations are currently planned to continue as scheduled.

    Testing on return to college in January

    The college has ordered a further supply of Lateral Flow Test kits which we hope will be delivered in time to be able to distribute to students before we break up. All students are asked to take a Lateral Flow Test on the day prior to their first day in college following the Christmas break. You can also order Lateral Flow test kits free of charge using this link; Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests – GOV.UK (

    International Students

    Please can we ask international students residing on college campus or at Burma Road to contact our Wardening Manager to discuss their plans to return home over the Christmas period and arrangements for their subsequent return to campus in the New year.

    I would like to thank you for your continued support in helping us keep our community as safe as possible. I do hope that you and your families have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas break in just a few weeks’ time.

    All best wishes

    Caroline James

    Dean of Higher Education

    University Centre Sparsholt



    Updated 28/10/21 @ 10:00

    We hope all our students had a great start to term and have had an enjoyable reading break. University Centre Sparsholt has reviewed all safety measures and decided that all existing controls will remain in place after reading break with a subsequent review to take place prior to Christmas.

    The UK Government has now entered a new phase in its response to the pandemic, moving away from stringent restrictions on everyone’s day to day lives, towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk. As Covid-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, the Department for Education (working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England) have informed all education leaders that the imperative now is to reduce further disruption to young people’s education and for our priority to be the delivery of face to face high quality education.

    Asymptomatic testing of learners

    Students should continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of Term (Friday 17 December).

    Wearing of face coverings and one-way systems

    When you arrive on campus you will find that we continue to have numerous safety measures in place to keep the Sparsholt community safe, such as one-way systems, extra cleaning, hand sanitising. If you’re using College-arranged transport, we ask you to wear a mask/face covering to be able to travel.

    We are asking students to continue to wear masks on campus in indoor communal spaces such as corridors and in catering outlets prior to taking a seat.  You may also be asked to wear face coverings in some classroom environments at the discretion of our lecturing staff.


    We are starting the year in changed times and part of that change is the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We recognise that having a COVID vaccination is a personal choice but we would encourage all UCS students to consider the vaccination option.



    Updated 21/06/21 @ 09:00

    Dear Student

    I appreciate that some of you receiving this email will have completed your studies with us but as the Government issued this guidance on Friday last week I feel it is appropriate to share it with all of you;

    Some large universities have been selected to operate ‘pop-up’ vaccination centres but there is no facility at Sparsholt to provide vaccinations for you. Please read the link on how to access a Covid-19 vaccination if you have not already done so. In summary you can;

    You can find out all the information that you need on the NHS webite

    Vaccination is optional but we would encourage you to take advantage of the vaccination programme to help keep everyone safe and look forward to a more ‘normal’ academic year on campus from September.

    In the meantime, have a good summer and stay safe

    Caroline James

    Dean of Higher Education


    Updated 14/05/21 @ 09:00

    The Prime Minister has announced that the country’s roadmap out of lockdown is on track and step 3 will go ahead as planned on Monday 17 May. It is therefore not necessary for face coverings to be worn in classrooms. However, the guidance is very clear that face coverings should continue to be worn in areas where it is difficult to maintain social distancing of 2m.

    Therefore all staff and students must continue to wear face coverings in all communal areas, when queueing and on all college and university arranged transport. We will continue to keep this under review.

    Staff are able to permit students to remove face coverings at their discretion, where the wearing of them would inhibit the learning experience (for example in some practical lessons, exertive duties).



    Updated 19/03/21 @11:00 

    We have been so impressed with how well students have responded to lateral flow testing (LFT) since a number of UCS students returned to on-campus teaching and learning on 8 March. Following the government roadmap, and to continue to keep everyone as safe as possible, we will be issuing home testing kits to all students once they have taken their third LFT test on campus.

    HE students who have not yet returned to campus will be given further instructions about testing on your return before the start of the summer term. You will not be provided with a home testing kits if you have not yet completed three LFT tests on campus before the start of the Easter holiday period.

    How do you take your test? 

    Each testing kit will be issued with detailed step-by-step instructions to support the transition to home testing which can also be seen below in videopdf leaflet , easy read leaflet and here on the website – all students should read these instructions before taking their first test at home.  


    When do you take your test?  

    Students will need to test themselves twice a week on the evening before their first timetabled day on campus. So, for example, if your first timetabled day on campus is on Monday you would take your LFT on the Sunday night and then the next one three days later on Wednesday; if your first timetabled day is usually a Tuesday you would test Monday and Thursday and so on. Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed.


    How do you report your results? 

    Once you have taken the test you must report your result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed either online or by telephone calling 119 following the instructions in the home test kit.

    You will also need to report your result to UCS – your tutor will give you instructions on how and when to do this and we will also publish updated guidance on this page.

    Students with a positive LFT test result will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance. They will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result if the test was done at home.

    Those with a negative LFT test result can continue to attend classes on campus in line with and using the protective measures already in place.

    Need more information? 

    We are always here to answer any questions you may have about this next step in keeping our college community safe, get in touch with your tutor with any questions and we will be posting  new updates on this webpage, so stay connected.

    The Government have also recently published two blogs as additional resources which provide further information on testing for college staff, students and families: 


    Updated 04/03/21 @10:45

    UCS has been working with NHS Test & Trace since January and our on-campus Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) for Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) is set up so that students without symptoms, who may be infectious but unaware, are able to get tested and self-isolate if positive or to be reassured quickly if they are not.

    Students returning in week commencing 8 March will be asked to undertake three COVID tests in college over their first three weeks back on campus. Once the initial three tests have been completed over the three-week period, students will be supplied with further tests to be taken at home. All students have been contacted via email with the specific arrangements for their return.

    Participation in testing is voluntary and will not be administered without the consent of the student undergoing the test.

    The Government has advised that you will need to wear a face covering when travelling to and from campus and at all times in and around campus including in classrooms.

    If you have any queries, please contact your course tutor who will be able to help answer your questions.

    How to take a coronavirus self test swab

    Updated 24/02/21 @ 12:00

    Further to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, you will be aware that the intention is for our students to return to University Centre Sparsholt during the week of Monday 8 March (7 March for Sparsholt residential students) – Friday 12 March

    We are currently digesting the lengthy guidance which has been issued by the Government and working through plans for the safe return of our student community. When students return they will be asked to undertake three COVID tests on campus over the first two to three week period. Once these initial three tests have been completed on campus, students will be given tests to be taken at home.

    We will write to all students over the next few days advising of the day of the week that they will be  coming back on campus. On their first day back students will be asked to take a COVID test where consent has been provided.

    We have been so impressed by and grateful for our student community’s response to online learning. We can’t wait to see you all back on campus and we look forward to your continued commitment to your learning and to the safety of your fellow learners and UCS community.


    Updated 22/02/21 @ 17:00

    The government has announced to parliament the roadmap for the easing of restrictions and a return to learning in England. We will be in touch directly with all students about the specific arrangements for you and your course as soon as we can. You can also find our latest updates when they are published on this page.

    Updated 03/02/21 @ 09:00


    An open letter from Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities to higher education students. 02.02.21 – Read Here 

    Updated 04/01/21 @ 21.45

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening of a second National Lockdown, we are cancelling all Covid testing planned to happen at Andover College, University Centre Sparsholt (UCS) and Sparsholt College with the exception of all Foundation and EHCP learners who have a pre-arranged test slot.

    In accordance with the instructions that we have been given, the vast majority of College delivery will move to online delivery until after February Half Term.

    If you are a Foundation learner or a learner with an established EHCP in place we will have already been in contact with you and you are able to continue to access face to face onsite learning at your discretion.  We are seeking immediate clarification from the Department of Education for Veterinary Nursing (VN) learners and will update all VN learners tomorrow as to whether learning will be in person or online.

    Finally, we are seeking clarification regarding National exams that have been scheduled over the coming few weeks.  We expect that most scheduled exams due to happen during January and February will go ahead but we will contact everyone due to undertake an exam as a matter of urgency,  by telephone, to clarify arrangements.  Where exams are happening in person, we will provide the opportunity for a voluntary COVID test in advance of the exam.

    Should you need any points of clarification in relation to arrangements until Half Term, please contact your Progression Coach who will be pleased to assist.

    Updated 04/01/21 

    Further to the communication was sent to students on Thursday 31 December, we have received a letter from the Universities Minister (Michelle Donelan) with revised plans for the return of students to Higher Education. You can read our updated letter here. 

    The impact of these changes and concerns relating to family and friends can be considerable. If you have concerns that you wish to discuss please contact the Wellbeing team who will be working full time from Monday 4 January to support you or access the range of resources on the Sparsholt Student Services page on Ledge.


    An open letter from Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, to higher education students about returning to their studies in spring 2021. 31.12.20 – Read Here 

    University Centre Sparsholt has carried out a comprehensive risk assessment of which the current version is available by request from here.

    Updated 31/12/20


    In line with the Governments revised instructions issued on Wednesday 30 December, UCS will recommence HE delivery for all students online from Monday 4 January except for Veterinary Nursing students who will recommence facetoface delivery on Monday 4 January. Faceto face teaching for the majority of UCS students will now recommence on Monday 18 JanuaryAll Higher Education (HE) students are urged to get tested on their return to Sparsholt to help protect themselves and the wider student community. 

    Students travelling back to Sparsholt should follow government safer travel advice guidelines. 

    Veterinary Nursing residential students will be invited to return to campus between 4pm on Sunday 3 January and 10.30 am on Monday 4 January and will then be tested from 11am on Monday 4 January. Non-residential Veterinary Nursing students should report to Westley Court on Monday 4 January between 11 and 11.45am for testing. Upon completion of testing students will then be able to return to their lessons. 

    All other residential students will be invited to return on the revised dates of Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 January, and you will receive a further communication from us with an allocated testing slot. If you are an international student who has already made arrangements to return to college sooner than this date and you are unable to change your plans, please email so we can make provisions for you. 

    From 18 January, all other nonresidential HE students should present themselves at Westley Court prior to their first facetoface teaching session where they will be supported through the testing process by trained staff. Testing will be held at Westley Court between 9am and 12pm. Students who travel in by car are encouraged to arrive at the test centre at 9am to enable HE students who travel in by campus transport to access the testing at 10.30am. HE commuter students will be asked to wait in the designated waiting area for the result of the test before joining their face-to-face classroom session. 

    Students will be encouraged to get tested twice with a minimum of 3 days between tests to ensure that they are free of the virus. When you register for your first test you will be notified of the day that your second test is due. Should a student test positive they will receive a confirmatory PCR test and must self-isolate for 10 days, before resuming facetoface teaching. 


    Updated 30/12/20 @ 17:00 

    Following today’s government announcement, we will update arrangements in more detail by the end of tomorrow, 31 December.

    New Covid-19 Testing Asymptomatic Testing Site at University Centre Sparsholt and Sparsholt College

    Updated 18/12/2020 @ 12:00

    University Centre Sparsholt and Sparsholt College is working with NHS Test & Trace to set up an on-campus asymptomatic testing site (ATS) of lateral flow tests (LFT) so that students without symptoms, who may be infectious but unaware, are able to get tested and self-isolate if they are or be reassured quickly if they are not. This Government backed asymptomatic testing site is to open in Westley Court, Sparsholt College to help protect people most at risk and aims to work towards returning life to as normal as possible. Testing of students and staff will begin on Sunday 3 January 2021.

    Student Update: Return in January Letter 



    November – December Lockdown Student Update 

    Updated 04/11/2020 @ 09:00

    Following the Prime Minister’s statement at the weekend relating to a proposed second lockdown, we have written to our students to update them on the arrangements for teaching and learning that will be in place until at least 2 December 2020.

    Student Update: Lockdown Announcement Letter 


    Michelle Donelan MP – Minister of State for Universities 27/03/2020 @ 09:00

    As Universities Minister, I wanted to write to students in higher education to explain the latest developments in the battle against COVID-19.

    I want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to keep you safe and to mitigate the worst effects of the virus on you and your education. The Government is working closely with the HE sector on a wide range of issues, and student wellbeing is at the heart of those discussions.

    Students in residence halls in England 

    While many students will already have travelled home, I know that those of you who have not, or cannot, will be concerned about what you should do now.

    The Government’s advice is that students remaining at university in England should now stay where they are and not attempt to travel. If you are living in student halls, or private rented accommodation, you should remain there and stay indoors while current restrictions are in force. As the Prime Minister said, staying put and remaining indoors is a crucial step now to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and save the lives of fellow citizens.  The government published advice on staying at home here:

    Should you or any of your friends fall ill while in your student residence, there is guidance on self-isolating here:

    I have been discussing with HE providers the additional support that they can give to students. That includes continuing to provide accommodation for those who cannot travel home or have no alternative residence. Providers will also offer a range of other support services to students, including catering and cleaning, and also student health and welfare. We know that providers are bolstering their existing mental health services, and adapting delivery to means other than face-to-face, and these services are likely to be an important source of support for you during this period of isolation. My department is also talking with HE providers to consider how we can offer additional mental health support.


    I am very aware that many of you will be worried about what this means for final exams.

    The Office for Students will produce guidance shortly on practical you can complete your studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are maintained. This will cover teaching, continued learning and assessment during this difficult time.

    It is important that providers support you and enable you to leave with qualifications that have real value and that reflects your hard work and allow you to progress. I can assure you that we are working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure this happens.


    On Tuesday 24 March, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international higher education students and staff in the UK currently unable to return home due to COVID-19. This covers three main issues: visa extensions, in-country visa switching and distance learning.

    Visa extensions 

    No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to expire, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.

    Anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will have their visas extended to 31 May 2020. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation – please see contact details further down.

    In-country visa switching 

    Individuals (students or staff) who cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation and wish to stay in the UK in the long-term would ordinarily need to apply for a visa from their home country. Where individuals would normally be required to return to their country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, they’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.

    Distance learning 

    Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances.

    New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.

    New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.

    Further information from the Home Office 

    Full details covering the above visa issues above can be found at the following link:


    The Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline remains open: 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – calls are free of charge if made from within the UK).  The Home Office asks that customers check first as that is the central source of information, but if individuals remain concerned about their immigration status they can contact:

    Call for Volunteers

    Universities are in the front line in the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 virus. There are many ways that universities will be able to contribute to the fight against the virus, including making their facilities and expertise available.

    You may already know people with medical or healthcare knowledge who are involved in fighting COVID-19 and there will be opportunities for more people to do so. The Health Minister this week launched a call for volunteers to support vulnerable people to stay safe and well at home.

    If you would like to get involved, you can sign up as a NHS volunteer here:


    I would like to assure you that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that you will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates, whether or not campuses are closed or learning has moved online. We expect that providers will communicate clearly with residential students on rents for this period and administer accommodation provision in a fair manner.

    I am also aware that some students are facing financial difficulties as a result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Government is working closely with the HE sector on a wide range of issues, and student wellbeing is at the heart of those discussions. It will be a matter for universities themselves to deal with individual students’ situations. We understand that most universities maintain hardship funds, which can be deployed where necessary. You should also be aware that if you are on a PAYE contract (e.g. part time student work), you may still get 80% of normal income. The guidance is here:

    I hope that you find this helpful and informative. We will continue to work with the sector and with student representatives (Student Unions and the NUS). If you think that there is more that we can do, please contact the department.


    Michelle Donelan MP

    Minister of State for Universities


    Update for applicants 24/03/2020 @ 09:00

    We have received some enquiries relating to the offer that we have made to you to study at University Centre Sparsholt and the recent government announcement that all exams (GCSE, A Levels, Technical and Vocational, and International Baccalaureate) have been cancelled for this academic year.

    Whilst we understand that this announcement is very unsettling for you and you may be concerned about your place at University Centre Sparsholt, ultimately we do not expect this announcement to affect the students that enrol to study with us in September 2020.

    The Department for Education has stated that;

    “The calculated grades awarded will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year.”


    “The grades awarded to students will have equal validity to the grades awarded in other years and should be treated in this way by universities and colleges. There is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted.”

    Consequently, once we receive the grades that you have been awarded we will confirm places via UCAS in exactly the same way that we do it every year. Please be reassured that for any applicant that does not achieve the grades required to meet the conditions of their offer, a review of that candidate using their grades awarded, prior achievement (such as GCSEs), their personal statement and their academic reference is conducted before a final decision on acceptance or rejection is made. Where possible we will try to be flexible but we must ensure that all students enrolling onto a degree programme have the academic capability to be successful.

    The Department for Education has published guidance that you may find helpful;

    Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020 

    Further details on exams and grades announced 

    Please contact the Admissions team at if you have additional queries relating to your application or offer at University Centre Sparsholt.


    Plans for the 2020/2021 Academic Year 

    University Centre Sparsholt (UCS) is now able to share its plans for the start of the new academic year starting in September 2020. Following the guidance provided by Public Health England, the Office for Students and using feedback from a survey completed by our current progressing students, we have decided to delay the start of term by one week. This enables us to provide a phased return for all our students and provide the confidence they will be safe in their studies. We will extend the end of the autumn term by one week so that everyone will still receive the same amount of teaching.

    The new term dates for all 1st year students are:

    Monday 21 September to Wednesday 16 December 2020 

    Read communications here  

    The new term dates for all 2nd and 3rd year students are:

    Monday 28 September to Friday 18 December 2020 

    Read communications here  

    The new term dates for all MSc students are:

    Thursday 1 October to Friday 18 December 2020 

    Read communications here  

    (Reading week is unchanged 26.10.20-30.10.20)

    With the safety of our community at the foremost in our thinking, the UCS campus will be open to start welcoming students from the start of term on Monday 21 September with the appropriate safety measures in place based on the latest UK government guidance on social distancing and relevant use of PPE.

    Due to anticipated restrictions necessitated by social distancing, UCS will be introducing a ‘blended and personalised’ approach to teaching, learning and assessment for the start of the autumn term.

    Current students told UCS that their main concerns are the importance of face-to-face contact with staff and peers for support, motivation and wellbeing, the access to practical facilities and resources and the desire to continue to study in a safe environment.

    Some students have stated that they do not feel comfortable to return to the campus, for a range of reasons until the pandemic is less of a threat but wish to continue to study remotely.

    UCS’s aim is to provide an experience which meets the needs of our student community and continue to provide the TEF Gold teaching, learning and assessment for which UCS is recognised.

    If students or applicants wish to discuss this further or have any concerns about their programme of study for next year, should contact or directly to their course tutor.

    University Centre Sparsholt has carried out a comprehensive risk assessment of which the current version is available by request from here.

    Please be assured of our best attention at all times. We remain committed to providing  a rich and varied Higher Education experience at University Centre Sparsholt and look forward to welcoming new and returning students in September.


    Veterinary Nursing Science – 2020 Applicants

    If you currently hold an offer with us to study FdSc Veterinary Nursing Science commencing in September 2020. A condition of your offer is that you provide evidence that you have completed  2 weeks of work experience within a veterinary practice.

    Many of you will have already spent time in a veterinary practice and experienced the everyday life, and highs and lows of working with, and caring for animals.  For those of you who may not yet have had this opportunity we urge you to consider these aspects to be sure that veterinary nursing is the most appropriate route for you and contact us if you would like to discuss alternative options.

    In the current Covid 19 situation, we appreciate that it is likely to be very difficult to arrange and complete a work placement and we will be removing this condition from all of our offers for this degree programme.

    Please contact the Admissions team at if you have additional queries relating to your application or offer at University Centre Sparsholt.

    20.03.20 Update for all students @ 16:30 

    We understand that this is a challenging time for our students and staff and we have put the following plans in place to support learning and keep our community safe. 

    Changed Mode of Delivery of teaching, Learning and Support from Monday 23 March: In response to the announcement by the Secretary of State for Education and the Prime Minister on the evening of 18 March 2020, from Monday onwards, the college mode of delivery of teaching and learning will change to online delivery of all theoretical aspects of learning programmes and support of learners.  University Centre colleagues have been planning for this, in the expectation that colleges and Universities would be instructed to close for physical face-to-face lectures. Online learning will commence from Tuesday 24 March 2020. 

    Student timetables: will continue on the normal days of delivery although the times of sessions may be altered. All lectures will be delivered online. UCS staff will be providing students with details of how to access their online learning each day, with the first of these instructions being given by 12pm on Friday 20 March 2020 and thereafter, at regular intervals. 

    Study Support: for students who receive individual study support with Rosie or Hannah, these sessions will still continue remotely, and they will be in contact with you to help set up your weekly sessions. 

    Online and IT/Mobile: the mode of delivery will include a range of online learning techniques, all of which can be accessed by computer/tablet/SMART mobile, and these techniques have been widely tested by colleagues to ensure they operate as expected. If any student is concerned about access to IT equipment, they should contact the college via, tutors in order we can evaluate if there is any support that might be offered.  

    Tutorials: these will continue as normal and colleagues at the college will provide information directly to students on these.  

    Wellbeing and Counselling: the Wellbeing team and College counselling service will continue to operate, albeit appointments will be provided online via . Students currently receiving counselling will be contacted direct by the College counsellor to confirm appointment times.  

    Library and Learning Resources: the college library and learning resource centre will continue to be available and can be accessed using your fob.  

    Work Experience/Work Placement for University Centre Sparsholt Students: where there is a module which has work experience as a component part, your tutor will review this requirement and agree a plan to enable you to complete the module to ensure that your final grade is not compromised. 

    Exams and Assessment: the majority of exams will become time constrained assessments that you will complete on-line via L-Edge.  It is our intention to do this during the already agreed exam period, we will provide additional information on this in the near future but the need for thorough revision remains the same as if you were sitting exams at Sparsholt. 

    University Centre Sparsholt applicants: you can still apply to University Centre Sparsholt for September 2020 and be made an offer of a place. We will keep in touch with existing applicants about arrangements for welcoming you to Sparsholt. 

    Halls of Residence: the vast majority of students will no longer require their Hall of Residence and as a consequence, the college is planning that most students should vacate their accommodation by Sunday, 22 March 2020, unless they have circumstances which require that they continue, in which case they should contact the college Residential Services Manager. The college will not charge for accommodation for the rest of the academic year for all students giving up their accommodation place by Sunday 22 March 2020.  All students remaining in accommodation will continue to be charged accordingly. 

    We thank you for your support and patience during this time. 

    Latest information Updates on COVID-19

    Latest information on NHS

    Guidance for educational settings

    Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas

    The DFE provides a daily update to educational establishments and we will continue to monitor this closely.


    18.03.20 update @18.30 

    University Centre Sparsholt will remain open as normal for the rest of the week. In response to the Education Secretary’s statement this evening we are preparing our response and will share further details of our plans by 2pm tomorrow (Thursday 19 March).

    We thank you for your support and patience during this time.

    Please continue to follow government guidance. We would expect to be contacted by Public Health England in the event of any confirmed cases and will update this web page in that situation.

    Any student who develops a “new, continuous” cough or high temperature should follow advice on 7-day self-isolation. The BBC has produced a helpful tool on the symptoms of COVID-19 which can be seen here. Public Health England has released new guidance for those staying at home because they have symptoms of the virus..

    People with symptoms are no longer required to call NHS 111, but are urged to look for information on the NHS website and 111 online.

    17.03.20 update

    The fast-changing situation with Covid-19 is understandably raising a lot of concerns and questions amongst our HE community. University Centre Sparsholt is open as usual in accordance with advice from the Department for Education (DFE). Students and staff are self-isolating in accordance with government guidance. We would expect to be contacted by Public Health England in the event of any confirmed cases and will update this web page immediately.

    As you may be aware, a number of UK universities have suspended face-to-face teaching but remain open, with teaching delivery for the remainder of this term being delivered online. The Office for Students and Department for Education have stated that their expectation is that teaching Higher Education continues under the current Public Health England (PHE) guidance. At University Centre Sparsholt, our preference is to continue with face-to-face teaching for as long as the Government and PHE recommend that schools, colleges and universities remain open.

    A number of HE students have made contact and requested to leave college for health, family or government advice from the country where they live. In this situation, we require individual students to contact their tutors to discuss and we will provide guidance to individuals.

    Currently, the planned exam period is expected to go ahead, but that may need to be amended if the Covid-19 situation continues to escalate. We are in frequent communication with the University of Portsmouth and we will be guided by them in all matters relating to assessment and examinations. We will keep you updated as soon as we have any information to share. Please be clear that all students will be required to meet the academic standards required to progress to either graduation or the next year of your degree programme. In the event that we are unable to facilitate exams in the specified time frame, you will be required to undertake alternative assessments which is why it is critical that you remain engaged in your studies and in contact with your teaching team in the coming weeks.

    However, any student who develops a “new, continuous” cough or high temperature should follow advice on 7-day self-isolation and notify their absence through sickness in the usual way. Public Health England has released new guidance for those staying at home because they have symptoms of the virus. The BBC has produced a helpful tool on the symptoms of COVID-19 which can be seen here.

    People with symptoms are no longer required to call NHS 111, but are urged to look for information on the NHS website and 111 online.