Actions being taken by universities in response to coronavirus

13 March 2020

‚ÄčIn response to the coronavirus, the way that universities deliver their teaching and other services will likely change over the coming weeks. 

Universities are prioritising student and staff wellbeing by:

  • Encouraging adherence to public health advice
  • Helping to raise awareness in students and staff of risk factors and symptoms
  • Reinforcing public health advice to self-isolate for 7 days without contacting NHS111 if experiencing mild symptoms regardless of travel history
  • Providing students and staff who are self-isolating with clear guidance re accessing support and care if symptoms persist and worsen.
  • Providing students and staff with support regarding additional anxiety as consequence of the pandemic
  • Providing support for any students who may be experiencing harassment related to the pandemic.

In the past few days we have seen a growing number of decisions by universities to start implementing social distancing strategies, such as moving to more online delivery of teaching and increased home working by staff. At present there is no government advice to universities about this, and therefore any operational decision by individual universities must be based on their local circumstances, which vary for a variety of reasons.  

Some of the measures we are seeing across the university sector include:

  • Shifting to online delivery of teaching and learning wherever possible, some immediately, some over the next week ahead of Easter vacation, others planning to do so soon after Easter
  • Encouraging home working of students and staff where appropriate
  • Postponing March/April graduation ceremonies
  • Cancelling in-person open days
  • Changing examination arrangements
  • In all cases we know university staff are working to support staff and students to continue to work and study where it is practical to do so and provide access to resources remotely. 
We are not aware of any universities that are planning to close. Most universities cannot fully close as they have commitments to students who live on campus, to certain research that must run around the clock and to maintaining infrastructure and other systems that cannot simply be switched off or left unattended.



1.     Universities UK (UUK) is the collective voice of 137 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit: 

2.      UUK is providing information for universities about covid-19 on its website:

Our team

Steven Jefferies

Steven Jefferies

Head of Media
Universities UK

Eloise Phillips

Eloise Phillips

Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Media Officer
Universities UK