Coronavirus (COVID-19) We're still here to help students

Updated 4pm 30.03.20

LUU is here to help you.

In line with the latest guidance from the Government, we have changed how we work, abiding by three key principles:

  1. The need to provide key services to our students and support their wellbeing
  2. The need to protect our staff and their wellbeing 
  3. Adapting services as we are directed by the Government to do so and in partnership with the University of Leeds

We are now 100% virtual

We were able to keep services open as long as possible for the students remaining on campus but following the Government announcement on 23 March, our building is completely closed.

LUU-run student trips, events and forums have been cancelled and we have asked student Clubs & Societies to cancel trips, events and all travel.

Changes to what we do, not who we are

As per recent guidance, we have moved all staff teams to remote working so we can continue to support you during this challenging time. 

We are also engaged in an ongoing process of ensuring our contracted student staff who are available for work are given the opportunity to do so and how we can transition many aspects of our student engagement to an online model.

LUU always aspires to show you the positive values of our student community, encouraging trust and support for each other by celebrating the diversity of our campus and our really special home. This is a time to reinforce that, as we should come together to support each other in new ways demanded by these circumstances.

By every one of us demonstrating this in any practical way we see, we will protect our community from mistrust, fear or anxiety. Let’s be a place where people continue to listen, be inclusive and seek to serve and empower others. 

Student support

If you have any queries or concerns get in touch with the Help and Support team by emailing helpandsupport@luu.leeds.ac.uk or calling 0113 3801400 and they will be able to provide advice and support.

Your student exec have also setup the 'LUU Covid-19 Community' group - a group for the students of Leeds to come together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your one stop shop for all of the good that is coming out of this tricky time.

 Join Facebook group

Here are the FAQs from students who have already contacted us:

If you need to self isolate during the academic term, you will need to inform the Student Support Officer or School Departmental Administrator.  It is best to do this by email so that there is a record showing the reason for your absence. If your absence means you will miss an exam please refer to https://leedsuniversityunion.knowledgeowl.com/help/i-cant-attend-my-exam-what-should-i-do

If you let your friends/family know you are self isolating then they know not to visit but can hopefully help with anything you need including getting food delivered.

You should also follow the guidelines on the NHS Common questions site in relation to your own personal health and what steps you need to take  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/

Self-isolating on its own would not be grounds for mitigating circumstances, you would have to show how your studies have been impacted.  This may include missing lectures, being too ill to provide academic work or revise for examinations. Your School would expect that you do what you can to help yourself which would include using lecture capture where possible and that you provide what academic work you are able to.

Please see https://leedsuniversityunion.knowledgeowl.com/help/search?phrase=mitigating+circumstances for how to apply and what evidence you need.

Get in touch with LUU Advice who can offer advice on your individual circumstances.  There are funds available that staff can help you apply for if your circumstances fit the criteria.  If you do feel you will struggle financially, get in touch as early as you can to prevent the stress of not being able to meet your financial commitments including rent.

If you have a contract and are paying rent, your landlord or housemates can’t tell you that you are not allowed to live in the property. You can self-isolate within the house, maybe ask your housemates to prepare food for you that you can take into your room. If you have any concerns about how you are being treated or demands from your landlord please get in touch with LUU Advice.

The University and LUU are following Public Health England guidelines and at present, this does not include the use of face masks.  NHS Common questions https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/common-questions/ identify that these are good for professionals in hospitals but there is little evidence to show any benefit to the general public.

Regularly washing your hands and covering your mouth if you cough or sneeze is the most effective way to help stop the spread of the virus.

If you have any further questions or need support in any other please contact the Help and Support team by emailing helpandsupport@luu.leeds.ac.uk or calling 0113 3801400, you can Skype or come in and see us face to face.

 

If you have signed a contract then you are still responsible for paying the rent, unless your contract allows you to give notice to end the contract early. If your funding has stopped and/or you have had to leave Leeds because you are in the at risk group, contact your landlord and ask if they will release you from your contract early, explaining your circumstances. If this is not possible, get in touch with Help and Support and we can talk through what financial support may be available to help you. If you have a joint contract, talk to your housemates and see if they are having similar difficulties and they can get in touch with us as well.

You should have received some communication from the University to say that they are cancelling rent payments from the 27th March, so if you are not living in University Accommodation you will not have to pay your rent but you need to let the University know you want to cancel your contract or you may still be charged rent. The deadline to notify the University is the 3 March. If you still have belongings left in your room but you have left Leeds, the University will be in touch about how to collect them once the current government travel/movement restrictions are lifted. See the University’s FAQ are what you need to do to let them know you are no longer on campus.

It can be difficult with the University libraries and Computer clusters now closed. The current restrictions on movement and seeing friends may also may it difficult to use other spaces if your home environment is not a good place to study. Get in touch with your School and let them know what is happening and how it is impacting you. If you need equipment you can see if they have any IT equipment you can borrow for the next few months – they would need to arrange a home delivery for you to avoid you being on campus. You may also need to log mitigating circumstances if they are not able to offer any support or loan of equipment – this link will help.

Yes you can, the UK government has suspended all normal rules in relation to accessing free medical care required for treatment of COVID-19. If you do have any symptoms please follow current NHS guidelines. This link will help you identify symptoms and what to do if you do become seriously unwell and need medical treatment. See the Universities FAQ’s for guidance on accessing free treatment.

The University has a comprehensive set of FAQs which will hopefully answer most of your questions. New information will be updated around assessment and exams over the coming weeks. If the FAQs do not answer your questions, talk to your School and if you still have concerns get in touch with Help and Support. First, have a look at this page.

Yes you can.  You need to email Residence Life and let them know that you are self-isolating.  You can let them know your circumstances and what help you need, for example if you have friends who can leave you food by your door and remotely check in with you to see how you are doing – or if you need food and essential supplies to be delivered to you.  Have a look at the latest NHS guidance around what to do when self-isolating

 

You also need to get in touch with your School to let them know you are self-isolating – all the information is on the Universities FAQs.

Yes, there is help available.  You need to contact your landlord/other tenants (email/phone) to let them know you are self-isolating.  If you have other tenants in the property, message and ask if they can leave you food and essential items outside your room.  You need to follow the guidelines of NHS around how to effectively self-isolate.  If you are living alone and are unable to get any support you can contact Leeds City Council (0113 378 1877) and they can match you up with a volunteer in your area who can help with food and other essential deliveries.  If you find it difficult to get in touch and still need support you can contact LUU advice.  If you are a tenant with Unipol – they have a lot of information online.

Although the building is closed, our Help and Support service are still here to help you with all the usual support.  Advisers are all working on line and can offer help via email, telephone or video chats. We are also linked in with the University online video links so if you have a virtual University hearing we can still join in on the meeting to offer you support.  If you need any help regarding finances, your housing situations, questions about your course or any other issues – have a look at Knowledge Owl or drop us an email.          

If you are a student who can claim benefits you may be able to claim universal credit. The following students can claim benefits:

  • Part Time Students

  • Students with Dependants

  • Students who get some other benefits and have limited capability for work

  • Students over pension credit age

  • Students who can make a joint claim with a partner

  • Students who have taken time out of their course due to illness or caring responsibilities, are now able to work, and waiting to return due to term dates.

Most full time students cannot claim Universal Credit.

Be aware that a very large number of new claims for universal credit have been made, and it may take some time to receive anything if you are entitled.

If you currently receive tax credits, claiming Universal Credit will end your tax credits claim and you will not be able to re-apply. Seek advice before doing this.

If you wish to seek some more work, many key employers are recruiting at the moment. Joblink has compiled a list here.

The government is encouraging employers to keep staff on, and providing support to pay staff 80% of their normal wage up to £2500 a month. You should speak to your employer about this possibility and ask if they intend to access this scheme to keep employees.

You can find more information here.

If you become unwell with Covid-19 or you are not able to work because you or your household is isolating you can claim Statutory Sick Pay if you meet certain eligibility criteria.

You must be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer and earn an average of at least £118 per week - so this may not apply to many students.

If you are eligible you can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks.

Employers may have more generous contractual sick pay - you would need to check your employment contract

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for SSP you may claim universal credit if you are eligible.

Student Finance England have confirmed that the third term payment of Student Finance will continue even if University attendance does not, so you will continue to receive this.

If you are in serious financial difficulty you can apply to the Leeds Hardship Fund, or the International Leeds Hardship fund if you are a non-UK student.

More infomation about the Leeds Hardship Fund. The funding team can send a form to you.

More infomation about the International Leeds Hardship Fund.

If you are unable to study because of illness or caring responsibilities, your student finance can continue to be paid for up to 60 days of leave. If you take temporary withdrawal due to illness you can make a case for your funding to continue for the remainder of the year, if the loss of funding would place you in financial hardship. Contact Help and Support for some advice on how to do this.

If you are a student entitled to benefits your benefits may increase if your funding drops.

If you recover or your caring responsibilities end and you cannot return until a specific date in the academic year you can claim Universal credit as a jobseeker until you return.

If you need to repeat a year, you may be able to get a repeat year funding. Speak to Help and Support for advice on this.

Arrangements for sickness for research postgraduate funding from Research councils or Scholarships can vary according to your provider. You will need to speak to them.

If you receive the student Finance Postgraduate Loan for your funding would stop after 60 days of absence. You can request that it continues if this would place you in hardship, but there is no availability of repeat funding - you cannot be paid more than the maximum loan amount in total.

If you are a student entitled to benefits you can make a claim for Universal Credit which has an element to help with Housing costs (see FAQ: I have lost my job).

You can also apply to the Hardship Fund (See FAQ: What if I am not entitled to any benefits).

Landlords are being offered support to help tenants stay in their homes, including help with paying buy to let mortgages.

If your landlord gives you notice to leave due to not paying your rent you do not have to leave immediately.

The courts do not consider it mandatory grounds for eviction until the full rent (for everyone if you are on a joint tenant) is 8 weeks late. Landlords making a claim between March 26 and 30 September 2020 must give 3 months notice before a court will accept a claim.

If you are lodger, you have less protection, but the landlord must still give reasonable notice. Contact Help and Support for Advice.

If you have already applied to court the situation is not clear yet. Seek advice from Help and Support.

If your landlord tries to evict you without following this it is illegal. You can call the police if they attempt to use force.

More advice on housing.

Private Landlords are not under obligation to release tenants from their accommodation. Check your contract carefully for any break clauses and seek advice from Help and Support if you are not sure.

Some providers of Private Halls have agreed to cancel rents for the last term.

You will have to ask your Landlord if they will release you. If they will not you can get advice from Help and Support about your position.

The University is not currently offering a refund of fees as they are providing continuing resources and education via online means. If you feel you have been significantly and differently affected, for example your School is not providing online education we can advise on speaking to course reps and making a complaint.

Supermarkets are very busy and it is sometimes hard to get deliveries. You may have to keep trying.

 

If you are a person at increased risk you can register with the government as vulnerable. This can help you access help getting food. Supermarkets should be contacting people on this list shortly to offer delivery slots.

If you live in Leeds, you can get help via Voluntary Action Leeds who are coordinating volunteers to help with delivering food and medicine and health needs. You can register by calling 0113 378 1877.

https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you are still worried, particularly if you are in University accommodation and there are fewer staff on site please contact Help and Support.

If you are significantly affected by any part of the current situation you can make a claim for mitigating circumstances. The University is not considering Covid-19 as a universal case for mitigation, but different people may be affected in different ways. You would need to explain the specific things affecting you.

Help and Support can offer advice and can review your claim for mitigating circumstances before you submit it.

If you have difficulty getting evidence due to restrictions on GP attendance and workload, contact your School in the first instance and clearly explain what you can get, anything you cannot get and the reasons why.

Look after your fellow students

You might have seen coverage of some cases where people wearing masks have faced xenophobic behaviour or comments. All of us deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and tolerance, especially when concerned about a health crisis. Leeds University and Leeds University Union will not tolerate racist discrimination against any of our students. 

It’s really OK to be sad, stressed, confused or scared in the case of a health emergency (whatever scale that is), but make sure you’re getting your info from credible sources, and reach out if you want help or advice. You can always email or call LUU Advice (advice@luu.leeds.ac.uk, 0113 3801400) to find out more about emotional support at Uni or if you’re worried about friends or family.

An increasing number of people in the UK are being tested for COVID-19. Medical staff usually test individuals in their places of residence, arriving by ambulance and wearing hazmat protective suits as a precaution. Try not to be alarmed if you see medical staff in hazmat suits - as of the 3rd of March, nearly 14,000 people had been tested and only 51 tested positive. 

Again, if you are anxious, don’t hesitate to get in touch with LUU Advice. 

Amy Wells, Welfare Officer 2019/2020

How to report discriminatory behaviour

If you see or are a victim of any discriminatory behaviour, please report it using the online reporting form.

Your report is anonymous and could be invaluable in ensuring the University of Leeds and Leeds University Union have a clear picture of where discriminatory behaviour is taking place. 

In particular, this is important at present when it comes to ensuring we know about xenophobic behaviour or comments surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

You can report here

Helpful links and additional information

NHS Overview of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and commonly asked questions

Government response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

All University of Leeds updates can be found here along with frequently asked questions relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have daily up to date information for those seeking information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in other countries. 

 A joint statement from Universities UK International (UUKi) and the UK Council of International Student Affairs (UKCISA) on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on international students in the UK.