Student accommodation and testing

This page answers common questions relating to Covid-19 and students who continue to live on campus, as well as those living in private rented accommodation. It also details the asymptomatic testing on offer to students when they return to university.

Universities are doing everything they can to make sure students living on and off campus are supported. Students with questions should go their university's dedicated webpages about coronavirus. These pages include information and advice, as well as what students should do and who they should contact if they need any additional support.

Please note that UK government lockdown advice is changing. Always refer to the latest government advice for your nation.


What support is available for students who have to self-isolate at university?

How can students get advice about staying safe in shared living spaces?

Can students who have left halls now get a refund on their rent?

What if a student cannot work because of Covid-19, and can't afford to pay their rent?

Can a student be evicted from private rented accommodation? 

How many universities are offering regular asymptomatic testing to students?



Q: What support is available for students who have to self-isolate at university?

A: It is important that any student who tests positive for Covid-19, or is asked to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone who is positive, follows government guidance. This includes those who are asymptomatic but have tested positive.

Self-isolation applies to anyone living alone, or with others, and they may need to continue to isolate, if certain symptoms continue. Anyone living in close proximity to someone exhibiting symptoms or someone who is asymptomatic but with a positive test result, such as a flatmate, will need to stay at home for 10 days. See government staying at home advice for those with symptoms.

For students who are living in halls of residence where someone has symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19), the institution will discuss the situation with the local Public Health England health protection team who will undertake a risk assessment and identify who is required to take part in whole household isolation for 10 days based on their likelihood of being infected.

Depending upon the circumstances, this would normally include those students living in the same cluster of flats or on the same floor who share cooking or washing facilities, or both.

If a student is self-isolating or unwell and needs assistance they should contact their university to find out what support the university may be able to provide, this could include support with food delivery and essential supplies. Details should be available on your university's website. Universities UK has also published a checklist for universities to guide them on supporting students who are self-isolating. 

If a person feels that they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, or their condition gets worse, or do not get better after 10 days, then they should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. 


Q: How can students get advice about staying safe in shared living spaces?

A: The government has advice about staying at home and staying safe to stop the spread of infection. The most up-to-date advice is on the government website:

Students with questions may also wish to check the information on their university's coronavirus web pages for further advice and about support that may be available.


Q: Can students get a rebate on their rent if they are unable to return to their accommodation?

A: Whether or not a student can get a rebate will depend on what type of accommodation they are living in: students at UK universities may be in university owned halls of residence, purpose built student accommodation run by a private provider or renting in the private sector.

In the case of university-owned accommodation, we understand that most universities are now offering rebates (or some other arrangements for students who are facing financial pressures because of this issue). The type of rebate offered is a local decision for universities, based on the circumstances at their institution and of their students. 

It is important to note that the vast majority of students are not renting university-owned accommodation, so in most cases decisions on refunds will be made by private landlords and other providers. Some private providers have already committed to rebates or other measures for students with accommodation contracts. 

Universities recognise the financial pressures the pandemic has placed on students and are providing increased financial and other support as a result. These include the use of hardship funds – which are open to help all students, not just those in university-owned accommodation, new 'pay as you stay' agreements, extending rental contracts and offering food vouchers.


Q: What if a student cannot work because of Covid-19, and can't afford to pay their rent?

A: If a student is living in halls of residence they should contact the university or the halls of residence manager to find out what arrangements can be made.

If a student is living in the private rented sector, they will still be liable to pay their rent as normal, but the government has put measures in place to ensure anyone renting in the private sector cannot be asked to leave during the lockdown. If somebody cannot pay their rent, they should speak to their landlord in the first instance.

Universities are aware of the financial pressures facing some students, and universities have mobilised millions of pounds of additional funding for students struggling with the ongoing difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, alongside hardship funding providing by UK governments. Any student who is worried about their financial position should contact their university to find out what support is available.

The amounts of funding available vary from institution, but in all cases it is considerable, and comes alongside further investment in other areas to support students, including equipment and resources, online services, careers advice, and support for mental health and wellbeing.  Any student who is encountering financial difficulties should contact their university to find out what assistance is available.

The government has also introduced a Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme to support individuals who have lost income because of self-isolating. There are a number of conditions that need to be met, but in some cases, students may meet the criteria. Further details can be found here.


Q: Can a student be evicted from private rented accommodation? 

No, nobody can be evicted from their privately rented accommodation until at least 21 February 2021 because of the current lockdown. That means that nobody in private rented accommodation can be legally forced out of their home. Further information is available on the government website. Shelter also has some useful resources.


Q: How many universities are offering regular asymptomatic testing to students?

Since the start of 2021, universities are required to offer asymptomatic testing to students when they return to university. This can be either directly or via partnership arrangements with other testing providers. In England, it has been confirmed that universities can offer twice-weekly serial testing to students until the end of March. The lateral flow devices which are used for most university asymptomatic tests are easy to use and give rapid results, which in university settings offers the opportunity to gain time when highly infectious individuals who show no symptoms could otherwise unknowingly be spreading the virus.



Please note that lockdown restrictions across the UK are changing, but the restrictions may be different in different nations. Please refer to the advice in your nation.



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