When you choose Plymouth College of Art you have the opportunity to choose from a variety of dedicated halls and houses or other private options. If you have any concerns or queries regarding your accommodation provider, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In line with the guidance announced by the government at the start of January 2021, all teaching was moved online from Monday 7 December, with a phased return to campus from Monday 8 March and a return to hybrid learning from Monday 26 April 2021.
A travel exemption has been introduced so university students can travel home, and back to their term-time accommodation once, during the Easter break. Students are allowed to move on one occasion from their student household on or after 8 March 2021 but before 29 April 2021 to one other household for the purposes of a vacation.
However, the guidance strongly advises students to remain in their term-time accommodation where possible in order "to minimise transmission". We strongly advise that students get tested for COVID-19 before they travel for Easter and that they make use of community testing services before they return to campus.
For more detailed national guidance on returning to university in 2021, click here for FAQs from the Office for Students (OfS).
Should you need to travel, GWR have provided guidance for students planning to travel by rail, including safety guidance about travelling by rail with confidence, advice to book tickets for less busy trains during the week, and not at weekends or on Friday evenings, and also how to pre-book assistance for your journey if you have a disability, visible or otherwise.
As part of the mass asymptomatic COVID-19 testing scheme for university students in England coordinated by the Government’s Department for Education and the Office for Students, Plymouth College of Art and University of Plymouth worked together to set up an Asymptomatic Test Site for students in the Main Hall at University of Plymouth campus, just a five minute walk from our Tavistock Place building.
Our joint testing site at the University of Plymouth remains open on weekdays between 9am and 5pm. If you live in Plymouth or the surrounding area or had already returned to your term time address in Plymouth from your holiday address before lockdown rules were enforced and you need a rapid response Lateral Flow Test, you can still book a test. Check your college email for details on how to book.
This testing centre is only for students without COVID-19 symptoms (asymptomatic) - to help confirm that they do not have COVID-19 as they may be unaware that they are infectious.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (any of the following; new continuous cough, high temperature, loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell) then you should stay at home (self-isolate) for 10 days, report your symptoms to us through the absence/sickness reporting procedure, and arrange to have a test.
If you are concerned about signing a tenancy agreement ahead of commencing your studies, we understand the additional stress that this could cause at a time of so much uncertainty. Please rest assured that there is no shortage of student accommodation in Plymouth, either through our preferred accommodation providers or privately.
Like many universities, Plymouth College of Art does not own or operate any student halls or accommodation and as such, all of our students have direct contracts with a range of student accommodation providers or private landlords in the city. In April 2020 during the first national lockdown, we joined with the University of Plymouth to write to student accommodation providers and private landlords to ask them to consider specific student difficulties on a case-by-case basis and offer flexibility in terms of rent where students are not able to occupy student accommodation that they had paid for.
Our position on this has not changed. This is a costly and stressful time for students and it has been difficult for students and universities alike to plan during a period where national announcements come without warning. We have been in discussion with the main providers of student accommodation for Plymouth College of Art about the new national lockdown, and we have reiterated our request that they respond flexibly to students who have paid for accommodation that they cannot access. Some accommodation providers in the city previously responded flexibly to the pandemic, amending cancellation policies and working with our students directly to shorten or change contracts when we delayed our return to campus until October last year in order to keep staff and students as safe as possible.
Housing insecurity can impact the academic success, health and wellbeing of all students, an issue that has been increasingly pronounced during the pandemic and can affect students in term-time accommodation as well as home addresses in and near to Plymouth or further away. From students whose income has been affected by the pandemic and are experiencing difficulty paying for living expenses, to those trying to work in accommodation without enough space to dedicate to their studies, we are aware that housing insecurity comes in many forms and that students paying rent for accommodation that they cannot access will not be the only people whose studies are adversely affected by the lockdown. Plymouth College of Art has enhanced our Higher Education Hardship Fund for students who are experiencing a financial crisis, offering a payment that does not need to be repaid to help cover the cost of necessities, contributing to issues such as essential living costs, bills and accommodation, food, childcare, medication or travel.
Our students make a huge contribution to the city and we want to be sure that they feel supported to continue studying, working and living in Plymouth.
Plymouth College of Art Students’ Union recognises the hardships students are facing at the moment. Student wellbeing and experience is at the forefront of our minds, and your Student Union President has been working tirelessly with members of staff to raise your concerns and get answers to your questions. We have been working behind the scenes to make your voices heard; we are thankful for all of your feedback and appreciate your patience as we work through everything that you have brought to us over the past couple of weeks.
We are all too aware that many of you who rely on work to cover the costs of your accommodation, cannot work during the pandemic or may have lost your jobs because of it. We are asking that all private landlords:
Ensure that students have a rent reduction of 40% for the remainder of the academic year
Ensure that students are not penalised if they end contracts early
Ensure that students are reimbursed for accommodation they weren’t able to occupy
We also recognise that there are many ways that Plymouth College of Art and your Students’ Union ensures it can support you in these difficult times. We want to reassure you that we are continuing to work with and lobby MP’s and Government to create wider policy change, including working with other Students’ Unions and universities, with Plymouth City Council, and through GuildHE, NUS, Ukadia, Universities UK and more.
We will be continuing to offer financial support such as the PCA Bursary and the Higher Education Hardship Fund. Your Students’ Union President worked to ensure all students would receive their PCA Bursary regardless of attendance, and has created a Students’ Union Bursary to support you in your academic studies. As always, we will be continuing to provide advice and help for each individual student based on their circumstances and will continue to work on this issue for you all.
Harriet Moore (SU President)
Written with support from Nath Stark (Vice-President for Higher Education)
& Aaron Lovelock (HE Wellbeing Representative).