Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • Coronavirus and your course

    LAST UPDATED 26/03/20

    Extenuating Circumstances

    • I need more time to complete an assessment. How can I claim for Extenuating Circumstances?

      You need to complete a Claim Form which can be found in the attachments towards the bottom of this page. You do not have to submit evidence in support of your claim.

    • I’m struggling to get evidence of my circumstances?

      In recognition of the difficulty students will have in obtaining evidence during the COVID-19 outbreak, the University has SUSPENDED the need to provide evidence in support of EC claims until further notice. To make a claim you only need to submit an EC Claim Form: you do not have to submit evidence in support but are free to do so if you wish.

    • Will I still get a decision on time?

      The University say that ‘As a result of absence caused by the current COVID-19 outbreak, there may be a delay in your claim being processed. We will endeavour to issue claim decisions as quickly as possible, but exceptionally this may be outside the five-working-day timeframe published in the Procedure.’

    Complaints, academic appeals, disciplinary, fitness to practice

    Assessments

    • Will assessments be affected?

      The University say that: ‘We understand that students are very worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their assessments and the University is currently prioritising this area to ensure that students do not have to return to campus to complete their assessments this semester.

      This is likely to involve a range of approaches including changes from examination to coursework, take home exams and on-line timed assessment in addition to written submissions to support students to complete their assessment at a distance. It may also be the case that some, or all practical assessments may be delayed to a future date, where these practical assessments are required by a professional or statutory body for degree recognition purposes. Our academic schools are currently preparing for these alternative approaches and will issue students with guidance by the end of March 2020.’

      Click here for latest information from the University.

    • Will I still be able to graduate as planned?

      The University say that: Particular priority will be given to final year students to enable them to secure their degree outcomes and graduate on time. We will aim to send graduation certificates out to all completing students by July 2020. There may, however, be unavoidable delays linked to COVID-19. Summer graduations are currently scheduled from Monday 20 to Friday 24 July 2020 with students given the option to graduate in absentia or to graduate at the winter ceremony in January 2021.

      We do not yet know whether this outbreak will have an effect on our summer graduation ceremonies, currently scheduled for the last week in July but will update final year students as soon as we know more.

      Click here for latest information from the University.

    Placements

    • What about placement opportunities?

      You course should be in contact to explain the impact on any placement opportunities. The OIA says:

      ‘Many students undertake placements in professional settings during their studies. Some of these may be cut short in order to protect you and the service users. In some other placements, you may be asked to do more, or do different activities to what you might expect. Providers will need to take account later of how your placement activities changed, and may have to talk with professional regulators about how this affects your qualification or progress.’

      ‘In the meantime, keep a record of what you have been doing, or what had to be changed or missed. If you have any concerns about your wellbeing or what you are being asked to do, raise them as soon as you can with whoever has immediate responsibility for you in the placement setting, and contact your HE provider to let them know.’

      The RCN has also issued specific advice to students.

    Taking time out

    Complaints

    • Can I make a complaint about the impact of coronavirus on my studies?

      The OIA says: ‘You can make a complaint to your provider about how the coronavirus has affected your studies. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to make an academic appeal if your progress or grades have been affected. But many providers will not yet know what measures will be put in place to overcome the challenges the disruption is causing for students. It may be better to wait until your provider has told you what it will be able to do, and what it will not be able to do. Then you should tell the provider if you are not satisfied with what it has said. It is important both that providers do everything they can to minimise the impact of the disruption and that students are realistic about what is possible in these unprecedented circumstances.’

    Further advice

  • Coronavirus and housing

    LAST UPDATED 27/03/20

    • Now that teaching is online and I’ve gone home can I cancel my contract and get a refund?
      • University managed halls (University Locks)

        'The University has agreed that students living in our managed accommodation at University Locks will not be charged for the remainder of their contracts if they have now left the halls. This can be backdated as far as 18 March – the point at which it was announced face-to-face teaching would end.

        Students’ bills will now be recalculated and they will be send a new statement showing whether any rent is still outstanding or if a refund is due. Any students who have not left yet, but are planning to do so, will not be charged from the point at which they depart, and they should let the Accommodation Office know what their plans are.

        This agreement also applies for students who have left University Locks, but still have possessions there as they were unable to take them when they left. Students should not come back to collect belongings at this point as that would contravene government guidelines – the Accommodation Office will be in touch to make arrangements as soon as it is safe to do so.'

      • Private halls

        Some private providers are offering refunds; you should check with your provider regarding whether they can terminate early. These providers are allowing cancellations provided the instructions are followed:

        • Unite (Jennens Court, Lakeside, Staniforth House and others) – see here for full details
        • Student Roost (The Heights, Old Fire Station) - see here for full details
        • Liberty Living (Queens Hospital Close and others) - see here for full details
      • Properties managed by BCUSU Homes

        BCUSU Homes have sent the following information to tenants: ‘Your Students’ Union does not own the property that you live in. Our position is a neutral one since we only provide a service to the property owner which involves a combination of letting the property, collecting rents and providing a maintenance service.

        At this time, in a constantly changing landscape, the Students’ Union’s advice to you is to continue paying your rent in the manner prescribed in your tenancy agreement until further directives are received from central government.

        By continuing to pay your rent you preserve your rights as a tenant and should there be any type of recompense or compensation in the future it can be paid to you retrospectively.

        Your tenancy agreement does not make any provision for terminating early, even in these extraordinary times, however we will follow any government guidelines regarding student accommodation once they have been announced.

        It is worth mentioning that your property is privately owned whereby your landlord still has all his or her financial obligations to meet.

        So our advice to you is to maintain your payments so as not to negate any rights that you have as a tenant.

        Our Accounts Department is happy to discuss any payment terms with you if you need more flexibility in the way that you pay your rent. If you feel you would benefit from this, please send a proposal to Nancy in our Accounts Dept who you can reach at nancy.molanga@bcsh.co.uk.'

    • Is there any other way of ending my contract early?

      Most student tenancies do not have a ‘break clause’ so you will remain liable for the rent until the end of the fixed-term. 

      If you have a joint tenancy agreement, as most students in private-rented accommodation do, if one of your housemates doesn’t pay their rent, you have “joint and several liability” for the rent. This means that that you and your housemate are liable for all the rent due - so you could be asked to pay it (as could guarantors). 

      Our advice is as follows:

      • As you are legally liable for your rent, you should continue to pay it.  
      • Speak to your landlord or agent and see if you can negotiate an agreement with them. Whilst there is no obligation for them to make any concessions, you may be able to arrange something such as deferring rent payments, creating payment plans or reducing/waiving rent.
      • Check whether your contract has a break-clause. If in doubt, send SU Advice a copy of your contract and we can check for you. 
      • Your contract will usually say that you need to give notice if you are going to be away from the accommodation for a period of time – check your contract and let your landlord/agent know if you are going to be away. 
      • You will remain liable for the utility bills until the end of your tenancy agreement. If your rent includes an amount for bills – you could ask the landlord/agent to reduce your rent amount if you will not be staying in the property (and they do not agree to end your tenancy early).
    • What about contracts for 2020/21?

      If you have signed an accommodation contract for the academic year 2020/21 this agreement will still be binding.  

    • I’m moving out, what will happen to my deposit?

      If you have paid a deposit and are moving out ask when you will get your deposit back. Deposit scheme rules vary but you may only have 3 months (less one day) from the end of the tenancy, or from vacating the property, to access the “alternative dispute resolution service” that the schemes offer.

    • What happens if I move out before the end of my tenancy and don’t pay my rent?

      The landlord may take action to get the rent from you, or from your guarantor if you have one. They may take some of this money from your deposit. If the amount you owe them exceeds your deposit, they may write to you to formally request the money. You might be charged interest on the amount owing which should not exceed 3% above the bank of England base Rate. If you still don’t pay, they may start a court claim against you.

      If your landlord starts court action against you for unpaid rent, this is not a criminal trial or a criminal offence, and you won’t get a criminal record. You will be asked to attend court, and if you don't attend the hearing will go ahead in your absence. If the judge decides you should have paid the money, you will be asked to pay it as part of the judgement. You may also be asked to pay the landlord's court costs.

      If you still don’t pay the money after the court has decided you should, you may receive a further judgement that can negatively affect your credit rating in the UK. This may make it difficult for you to borrow money or pass reference checks for rented accommodation in the UK in the future. If you are worried about the impact of this on any current or future visa in the UK, please seek advice from an immigration advice service.

      If your landlord is threatening to take you to court, please contact Shelter for advice.

    • Will I be evicted if I get into rent arrears?

      The Government has announced the suspension of all evictions for 3 months. It has been advised that the expectation at the end of this period will be for tenants and landlords to work out a realistic repayment plan for any rent missed in this 3 month period, taking into account the circumstances. It is not clear whether landlords will be able to immediately start proceedings for evictions at the end of the period for rent arrears that accrued during this time. We are awaiting the full details of the legislation and what this means for those in student accommodation with less eviction protections.

    • Where can get further information?

      The University of London Housing Services has more useful information about Covid-19 Coronavirus & Private Housing Rights such as more detail on evictions which we advise you to read. 

    • Where can I get further advice?

      You can log an enquiry with us, BCUSU Advice Team.

      You can also contact Shelter who are housing specialists.

Further Advice