COVID testing on campus

We’re working hard to help keep students and staff on campus safe.

Getting into the habit of regular testing will help us all to play our part and do what we can to protect our community. It also means we’ll know when and how to support you if you need to self-isolate.

Testing is one aspect of the preventative measures you can take against coronavirus, so please continue to follow the Hands, Face, Space rules.

Who should get tested?

Students or postgraduate researchers who are required to be on campus are advised to get tested through NHS Test and Trace before returning to campus for the first time. This will help reduce the risk of onward transmission.

When should I get tested?

We recommend that you get tested via NHS Test and Trace before returning to campus for the first time, then book free rapid lateral flow tests (every 3 or 4 days apart) while you're studying or working on campus.

We then encourage you to get two tests per week on campus once you arrive. Every student, postgraduate researcher and staff member currently required on campus is eligible to book these tests – as long as you don't have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive and advised to self-isolate. If this is the case, you should book a free PCR test via the government website.

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.

How to get tested

Our campus testing centres close from Friday, 23 July 2021, but you can still get regular rapid lateral flow tests at many locations across Manchester.

You can order home test kits online or collect them from a local rapid lateral flow test site.

Visit the City Council website to find out more.

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

Video: what to expect during COVID-19 testing


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 are making plans for a managed return of staff, students and researchers back to campus.

Over the summer we will focus on returning people and increasing activity in a few priority areas. From Wednesday, 1 September we are planning for a wider return of staff and students for the new academic year.

In the meantime, any facilities that are already open (such as the library) will remain open for students who are on campus over the summer. There may be some changes as we prepare to transition back to a busier campus, however, we will do our best to keep any disruption to a minimum.

We will keep students and staff updated with further information about campus facilities and services as we approach the new academic year.

The increased presence on campus means we recommend all students and staff get tested twice a week to help prevent an increase in cases within our community.

If you are travelling from outside the UK, there are currently testing, quarantine and other requirements in place (this includes British citizens). For the latest information check our FAQs for EU/international students.

Frequently asked questions


Why is the University encouraging staff and students to get tested?

All UK universities are working with the government to encourage voluntary mass COVID-19 testing for students and staff working on campus. Students and staff being aware of their COVID status and following the relevant guidance should help reduce the risk of transmission to their families, friends and communities. 

Who can get tested?

Every student, postgraduate research student and staff member currently studying or working on campus is eligible to book a rapid lateral flow test.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been advised to self-isolate, you can book a PCR test online

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.

Should I get tested if I have symptoms?

If you have symptoms, you should book a PCR 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.

Do I have to take regular tests?

These tests aren't compulsory but we strongly recommend that everyone studying or working on campus takes twice-weekly tests. 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 recommend that you get tested once via NHS Test and Trace before returning to campus for the first time.

We then recommend you keep taking twice-weekly tests, 3-4 days apart. These can be ordered online and delivered to you, or you can collect them from any one of Manchester’s collection points.

This weekly testing will be encouraged until the government advises otherwise. We will continue to update students regularly if there are any changes to testing arrangements.

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

Many of Manchester’s testing centres are accessible and offer assisted testing. For example:

  • Bowlee Sports Centre
  • Bolton Arena LFD Test Site
  • Huyton
  • Kirkby

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

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.

How do I get tested before returning to campus?

While at home, you can book either a PCR or lateral flow test using the 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. 

Can I do COVID-19 testing during Ramadan?

The Department of Health and Social Care has consulted the British Islamic Medical Association and they have advised the following: "Our position is that PCR and LFD tests do not invalidate the fast, which is the opinion of the vast majority of Islamic scholars."


When can I travel back to campus?

The government has advised that students on practical or practice-based courses that require in-person on-campus teaching, or access to specialist equipment or facilities, can return from 8 March. Your programme team will be in touch with you in due course, if you are studying modules that are eligible for on-campus studies. If they confirm you are eligible to return, please do not travel before 8 March.

Students on all other courses should continue to study remotely and wait to hear further from their programme team. The government will review their guidance again in mid-April to consider whether students on other courses can return, and we will contact you again shortly after that.

As is already the case, students can also return to campus if they have exceptional personal circumstances that require them to be here. This may be to support mental health, or not having access to suitable study facilities at home.

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.

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

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has published advice for students planning to travel in the UK or overseas, and the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has published their advice for international students.

If you are travelling from outside the UK, there are currently testing, quarantine and other requirements in place (this includes British citizens).

For the latest information check our FAQs for EU/international students.

What are the arrangements for students returning to campus? Will students be tested when they return to campus?

Due to the current UK national lockdown, most students should remain at their current location and not return to campus. All our teaching and assessment will now be online, except for a few exempt courses. Some of these exemptions are described in our message last week and in government information.

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

Twice-weekly testing is available to any students, staff and researchers who are required to be on campus.

Contact us

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

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.