COVID testing and returning to campus in 2021

We're working hard to help students return to campus in 2021 with our testing arrangements. Getting tested means you’ll help prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community and we’ll be able to support you if you need to self-isolate.

Testing is just part of the preventative measures against coronavirus, so please continue to follow the Hands, Face, Space rules.

Who should get tested?

We strongly encourage all taught students and postgraduate researchers to get tested, through NHS Test and Trace (details below), before returning to their study or work on campus. This will help reduce the risk of onward transmission.

We also encourage you to get tested on campus when you arrive – every current student at The University of Manchester and every staff member working on campus is eligible to book these tests, as long as you don't have COVID-19 symptoms, or are a contact and have been advised to self-isolate. If you’re self-isolating, then you can book a test for after you complete your self-isolation.

International students

International students are currently required to quarantine on return to the UK. There is more detailed information on the UK government website and in our FAQs below. Make sure you allow time for this, especially if you have in-person teaching or exams on campus.

When should I get tested?

We recommend that you get tested while at home and then book free rapid testing on campus for when you arrive, unless you need to self-isolate.

We strongly encourage you to take at least one test, but ideally two tests, three days apart.

Tests are being carried out at University Place – please book your test using the button below.

Book your tests

What to expect during the test

NHS Test and Trace have some guidance on what to expect when you turn up for your test, which you can stream below (please contact us if you would prefer this in an alternative format). If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating, you must not get tested using this method. Our FAQs below detail what you can do if you already have symptoms.

Bring a charged mobile phone with you to help avoid delays in registering.

If you're feeling anxious about getting a test, find out what support is available to you

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What to expect during the test – video transcript

NHS Test and Trace – COVID-19 test guidance

Simple. Fast. Self-swab.

Getting ready for your test

  1. You will be given a time to drop by and you will do the test yourself with support from a testing helper.
  2. When you arrive you’ll be asked to sanitise your hands or to put on gloves.
  3. You’ll be shown to a private space where you can do your test.
  4. You will then be asked to blow your nose, so that your airways are clear.
  5. Then, using the mirror, open your mouth wide and look at the back of your throat.

Doing your test

  1. Being careful not to touch the tip, you’ll take the swab from its packet, this will be used for both your throat and nose.
  2. Without letting it touch your teeth, tongue or cheeks, you’ll rub the fabric tip of the swab against where your tonsils are (or used to be) for ten seconds.
  3. After ten seconds, you’ll remove the swab carefully, making sure it doesn’t touch any other parts of your mouth.
  4. Then you’ll put it up one of your nostrils.
  5. When you feel some resistance (up to 2.5cm or 1 inch) you will turn the swab five times (about 10-15 seconds).

Handing your test in

  1. After you have done your nostril, you’ll carefully remove the swab and hand it to a testing helper.
  2. The testing helper will make sure the correct details are attached to your test.
  3. They will also let you know when and how you will receive your result.

Simple. Fast. Self-swab.

Travelling back to campus

We're encouraging you to use private modes of travel where possible and avoid car sharing outside your household. 

If you need to use public transport, then please follow all the relevant rules around distancing and face coverings.

There is advice for international students on the government website. International travel may include the requirement for a private test and a period of quarantine when you arrive, so please factor this into your overall travel costs and how it might affect your ability to attend teaching or exams on site

Frequently asked questions

Testing

Why is the University testing students?

All UK universities are working with the government to offer voluntary mass COVID-19 testing to students before they travel home for the Christmas break. Students being aware of their COVID status and following the relevant guidance should help reduce the risk of transmission to their families, friends and communities when they travel home. The tests are called lateral flow tests or rapid antigen tests.

Who can get tested?

Every foundation, undergraduate and taught postgraduate student currently studying at The University of Manchester is eligible to book these tests, as long as they don't have COVID-19 symptoms, or are a contact and have been advised to self-isolate. If you’re self-isolating, then you can book a test for after you complete your ten days' self-isolation.

I live at home. Do I need to get tested?

Yes – we recommend all students who plan to be on campus for any reason get tested beforehand.

I stayed in Manchester over the Christmas break. Do I need to get tested?

Yes – we recommend all students who plan to be on campus for any reason get tested beforehand.

Should I get tested if I have symptoms?

If you have symptoms, you should not attend a University test centre as you’ll be turned away. You should instead book a test through the normal NHS route. If you are self-isolating or have tested positive, then please use our form to let us know and take a look at our support package.

Do I still have to take the test if I've previously had symptoms?

If you have tested positive in the last 90 days for coronavirus, you should still book a test with us, providing you no longer have symptoms and you are no longer self-isolating. A positive test in the last 90 days is no guarantee of immunity.

I'm already self-isolating. Should I leave this to take a test?

No. These tests are designed for people who don't have symptoms and are not close contacts of confirmed cases. If you're already self-isolating due to contact with a confirmed case, you should not leave to get tested until your self-isolation period ends (provided you have not developed symptoms). 

If you're self-isolating because you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive, please use our form to let us know and take a look at our support package.

Can postgraduate researchers get tested?

Yes – we advise you get tested before resuming any work on campus. You can book any of the slots on offer, alongside taught students and staff.

Do I have to take a test?

These tests are not compulsory but we strongly recommend that you take them. With so many people travelling at one time, this is a really important part of helping to reduce transmission – it will help keep you, your fellow students, your family and everyone else safe.

Why do I have to take two tests?

We strongly recommend that all students getting tested take two tests (the second three days after the first). This is a measure to pick up any infection that is missed by the first test, or which develops after the first test is taken.

When should I take my tests?

We have planned for a staggered return to ensure that students are able to access testing slots at the right time. Recommended return dates and test dates will vary between programmes – your programme team will be in touch with you to confirm this. Please book your tests as soon as you can following your return to Manchester/campus.

If you are an international student and have already booked your return flights to Manchester, we can be flexible with your planned return date. Please note you may have to quarantine on your return to the UK.

I have a declared disability, what do I need to know?

The University Place testing site is wheelchair accessible and has nearby accessible car parking. If you wish to drive and park at University Place, contact our car parking office (carparking@manchester.ac.uk) and they will arrange this with you.

  • Assisted testing is available for anyone who requires support to administer their own tests.
  • Private testing spaces are available for any student to use.
  • Assistance dogs are permitted.

If you have any questions or require any additional support you can also speak the Disability Advisory and Support Service.

Does University Place have private testing spaces which can be used for religious or personal reasons?

Yes, the University Place testing site has private spaces for use by anyone being tested.

How will I get my results and how long does it take?

The tests results are being managed by NHS Test and Trace. You’ll receive your results by text or email, depending on which details you provide when booking the tests. The University does not issue negative or positive certificates.

We have been advised that in most cases you should get the result within 48 hours of taking the test. If you have not received your results after 48 hours, please call 119.

I have tested negative on the rapid antigen test. What should I do?

Most important is to follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. Remember that if you are symptomatic, you must not attend for a rapid antigen test and should arrange for an rt-PCR test using the NHS Test and Trace and isolate immediately.

If both your tests are negative and none of your close contacts test positive or have symptoms, you don't need to self-isolate.

If both your rapid antigen tests are negative but one of your close contacts tests positive, you should self-isolate for ten days.

I have tested positive on the rapid antigen test. What should I do?

Please follow the advice given to you with your test result. Remember that if you are symptomatic, you must not attend for a rapid antigen test and should arrange for an rt-PCR test using the NHS Test and Trace and isolate immediately.

If your first rapid antigen test is positive

Please self-isolate for ten days from the date of your test and advise your household/close contacts that they are required to self-isolate for ten days, pending your PCR results

If your PCR is then negative, you no longer need to self-isolate.

If your PCR is positive, continue to self-isolate for ten days from your first rapid antigen test.

NHS Test and Trace will phone you to complete contact tracing. Please advise NHS Test and Trace of the date of your positive rapid antigen test as the starting date for your self-isolation period and the self-isolation period of your household/close contacts. Please provide details of all your household/close contacts to NHS Test and Trace so they can be followed up for contact tracing.

Most important is that you follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. Do not attend a second rapid antigen test at a University site; cancel your second test. Instead arrange a confirmation test via NHS Test and Trace. Please use our form to let us know and take a look at our guidance and support.

If your second rapid antigen test is positive

Please self-isolate for ten days from the date of your second test and advise your household/close contacts that they are required to self-isolate for ten days, pending your PCR results. Please arrange a confirmation test via NHS Test and Trace.

If the NHS rt-PCR test is negative, you don't need to self-isolate.

If the NHS rt-PCR test is positive, self-isolate for ten days from the date of your rapid antigen positive test.

NHS Test and Trace will phone you to complete contact tracing. Please advise NHS Test and Trace of the date of your positive rapid antigen test as the starting date for your self-isolation period and the self-isolation period of your household/close contacts. Please provide details of all your household/close contacts to NHS Test and Trace so they can be followed up for contact tracing.

Most important is that you follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. Do not attend a second rapid antigen test at a University site; cancel your second test. Instead arrange a confirmation test via NHS Test and Trace. Please use our form to let us know and take a look at our guidance and support.

Supporting you

Our student support services are here if you're feeling anxious about your test results.

Do I have to self-isolate between the two tests?

No – as long as you (and your close contacts) don't test positive or have COVID symptoms, you don't need to self-isolate between tests.

Who will administer the tests?

The tests are being run by trained staff under the supervision of clinically qualified University staff. First-aiders will be present at all sites. If you have any concerns about performing the swab, they will be able to help you.

I haven't received my booking confirmation. What should I do?

You should receive a confirmation email for each booking. If you do not receive confirmation within 24 hours, please firstly check your junk mail folder. Should the message not appear there, please email us at UoMcovidtesting@manchester.ac.uk (please note that this inbox is not monitored at weekends).

Travelling

When can I travel back to campus?

As of 4 January the UK government has announced a national lockdown. This will be reviewed in mid-February, but will likely remain in place until the end of March.

All our teaching and assessment will now be online, except for a few exempt courses. Some of these exemptions are described in our message about your return to University and in government information.

Unless you are on an exempt programme, or you have specific personal circumstances, you should not return to University. If you stayed at University over the Christmas period or have already returned, you should stay on campus.

Can I travel by public transport?

We encourage you to use private modes of travel where possible. If you need to use public transport, then please follow the government’s safer travel guidance.

When and where should I get tested?

If you’re on an exempt course and planning to return to campus, we recommend that you get tested both at home before you travel and then again on campus when you arrive (unless you need to self-isolate). Details of how to book your tests at home and on campus are in the questions below.

Testing is voluntary, but it will help prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community and means we’ll be able to support you if you need to self-isolate. Testing is just part of the solution to coronavirus, so please continue to follow the Hands, Face, Space rules.

I’m moving into University halls of residence for the first time. What do I need to know?

If you are moving in to your University halls for the first time, make sure you know how to collect your keys. Only you and one other person to help you are permitted inside your halls building. 

Please also take a moment to read about our expectations of your behaviour in halls.

I’m not returning to campus until after 7 February. Can I still get tested when I arrive?

As required under UK government guidelines, students returning during their recommended window (as communicated to you by your programme team) will be able to access rapid COVID testing on campus. We’re currently awaiting further government advice about what will be available for students who wish to return to campus after February.

I'm dropping off a student on campus. Can I book a hotel?

If you’re helping a student return to campus, please be aware of local and national restrictions. Check with your hotel before travelling.

Testing in 2021

What are the arrangements for returning after Christmas and plans for Semester 2? Will students be tested when they return to campus?

There are lots of options for you to get a COVID test for your 2021 studies in Manchester and all are voluntary. Getting tested means you’ll help prevent the spread of coronavirus in our community and we’ll be able to support you if you need to self-isolate.

We recommend that you get tested while at home and then book testing on campus for when you arrive, unless you need to self-isolate. Testing is just part of the solution to coronavirus, so please continue to follow the Hands, Face, Space rules.

How do I get tested while I’m at home?

While at home, you can book a PCR test using NHS Test and Trace.

We’ve agreed with public health authorities that students who need to return to campus are allowed to access this free NHS testing, even if they don’t have symptoms. On the website just select “My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms.

If you’re attending a testing centre, book your PCR test 3 to 4 days before you are due to return to campus. Allow more time if you’re booking a home PCR test, so the kit can be posted to you and sent back.

If you have had a positive PCR in the last 90 days through NHS Test and Trace, you don’t need to be tested again.

What do I do with the results of my test at home?

If you test positive, please follow national guidance and self-isolate for ten days at home before returning to University. Please follow instructions given to you by NHS Test and Trace and also tell us using the eForm.

If you test negative you can return to University, making sure you follow the latest travel safety advice. Government advice is that you also book two tests on campus for when you arrive. However, if you go on to develop COVID-19 symptoms or are in contact with someone who tests positive, please follow national guidance, seek testing and self-isolate. 

How do I get tested on campus?

We are offering tests for all returning students from 4 January.

The slots to book these tests are now live on our website – you can book using our booking form. You might also sign up for this testing even if you have recently tested negative.

Each test takes less than ten minutes for most people, and we recommend you get your two tests, 72 hours apart, as soon as possible once you come back.

I’m planning international travel to come to campus. What do I need to know?

All UK travel corridors have now closed (Monday, 18 January 2021).

Travellers arriving in the UK also have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed entry. The test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500. On arrival you will need to self-isolate for up to ten days. Please visit our self-isolation guidance for students if you need support during this time.

Your passport or identity card will be checked when you arrive at a UK port or airport to make sure you’re allowed to come into the country. You may also need a visa.

The travel corridor closure will be in force until at least Monday, 15 February.

For further information, please review the government's advice on coronavirus: travel corridors

Contact us

If you have any questions that we have not answered above, then please email us at:

UoMcovidtesting@manchester.ac.uk

We won’t be able to offer medical advice but we can help with questions about testing and travel. Please note that this inbox is not monitored at weekends.