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London Higher COVID-19 Secure Charter

We support the London Higher COVID-19 Secure Charter.

As London's universities prepare to welcome students in the autumn, the London Higher COVID-19 Secure Charter sets out ten key principles that member institutions are working on. 

We are preparing our campus to enable you to enjoy your St Mary’s experience whether you are continuing your studies with us or just starting out. Our student spaces, sports facilities and catering outlets will all enable you to be physically distant but not socially distant.

As always we will be following government guidance at all times. Keeping our students and staff safe is our top priority which is why we support the London Higher COVID-19 Secure Charter

1) London HEIs are working to ensure that our campus estates across the capital are COVID-19 Secure for staff and students, following current government guidance, legal requirements and recommendations from Universities UK (UUK).

A University Wide Covid Risk Assessment has been undertaken at St Mary's. The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority as we build our plans for reopening campus in. On your return to campus, some of these measures are likely to include:

  • We are improving the frequency of cleaning of all high touch areas on campus.
  • Clear screens are being introduced at all university receptions and one to one meeting points.
  • Creating more hand wash and sanitiser points on site
  • Providing sanitising wipes where there is shared equipment / computers being used
  • Putting in one way systems where possible in buildings to reduce pinch points when moving around to reduce casual contact with others
  • We are looking at how to make lecture changeover as smooth as possible with less need for group crossover.
  • We are reminding those on site regarding social distancing guidance

2) London HEIs are working to ensure that social distancing will be maintained, as reasonably practicable, throughout campus estates and are actively managing numbers of staff and students on campus. London’s HEIs will offer a combination of online and face-to-face solutions to working and learning to ensure that social distancing can be maintained in all buildings.  We are committed to finding innovative uses of university estates and repurposing space where possible to prioritise learning and student experience.

St Mary’s University has introduced a staggered start to the autumn semester, with postgraduate taught programmes starting a week later than most undergraduate degrees, and will be moving student registration to an entirely online format. Induction for new students will take place the week prior to the start of the new semester, and again will be entirely online.

Enhanced hygiene measures will also be in place across the campus and accommodation. Screens, one ways systems and clear signage will assist in ensuring you are able to live, learn and be active at St Mary’s.


3) London HEIs are working to ensure that students receive a COVID-19 Secure learning experience both within and outside the classroom. We are working with London’s business community and other delivery partners to enable safe work placements and other vital training, where applicable.  London First and the wider business community are committed to welcoming London’s students and graduates into the capital’s workforce and are working with HEIs to enrich student experience through workplace learning.

St Mary's University’s Employability Services team is working closely with students and external organisations across a range of sectors, to ensure students are still able to complete valuable Workplace Learning modules. There is a focus on securing virtual placements and contingency plans have been written which provide alternative options to students who for any reason find they are unable to complete either a face-to-face or virtual placement, so that they can still develop key employability skills.

Outside of degree programmes, remote Internship opportunities are being sought out and promoted to students and graduates, and the team are making more use of internal departments to offer Internships, with students gaining experience of working in key services with professional teams.


4) London HEIs are working to ensure that we share best practice in staff and student wellbeing through our London Health & Wellbeing Network, to ensure that staff and students in London can access support whenever needed.

St Mary's University is playing an active role in a UK-wide project with AdvanceHE called 'Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum'. Our St Mary's approach involves an online resource with lots of short activities aimed at developing and nurturing the wellbeing of our students as an integral part of their studies. For example, one activity helps students to manage their workload priorities through a practical task and discussion in a lecture or seminar.


5) London HEIs are working to ensure that the different needs of London’s diverse student and staff communities are recognised and are actively looking understand additional challenges faced within these communities. London HEIs are working to ensure that students and staff disproportionately affected by coronavirus, or with increased risk, are supported in their return to work and study.

St Mary's University has put in place a Digital Equality Fund to support WP students in accessing suitable computing equipment and wifi access, and is undertaking a cross-University project to reduce inequalities in access to digital resources and equipment.


6) London HEIs are working to ensure that international students are actively supported to study safely in London. London HEIs are actively engaging with appropriate government bodies to ensure we comply with the latest guidance.

St Mary’s values its international community and we are committed to ensuring our students from outside of the UK are supported throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. To make sure our international students make the most of their time here, St Mary's is moving summer pre-sessional English courses online to give students a high-quality teaching experience while cutting down on unnecessary travel and allowing extra time for visa processing. St Mary's is also committed to working with students whose visa processing is delayed so that they can begin their course in their home country or delay their start date, as appropriate.

The University is making travel to campus easier and safer by offering an airport pickup service on multiple dates to accommodate students from countries with differing quarantine requirements, on-campus St Mary's is developing quarantine arrangements for residential students in line with the latest Government guidance.

The University is also running a longer international orientation programme online to allow quarantining students and students with delayed visa applications to participate. In addition, St Mary's will ensure that international students who commute will still benefit from the University’s provision of COVID-secure study, dining and social spaces on campus. In addition, the University is maximising the mental health support available to students through the use of online counselling provision and the Big White Wall.


7) London HEIs are working to ensure the provision of a broad and enriching student experience in the capital, by supporting access to experiences outside of the course curriculum and creating a thriving on - and off - campus community.

St Mary’s is all about friendship, getting a great degree, doing the sports and hobbies you already love, or trying something completely new, and meeting amazing people. Even though we might be physically distant we are no socially distant and our Students Union have lots of great activities line up for our new and returning students.

St Mary's is located in open green parkland bordering the River Thames, with additional sports fields just a safe 15 minute walk from main campus, the University offers lots of opportunity to exercise outdoors, individually or as part of a team. In addition to The Exchange, St Mary's theatre and cultural venue in the heart of Twickenham, many of the capital's sporting and cultural centres are beginning to, safely, re-open.

On Saturday 4th July, some of London's pubs and restaurants opened their doors. Some smaller art galleries have been open since June, and with The National Gallery reopening this month, many of the other large museums and galleries are unlikely to be far behind.


8) London HEIs acknowledge that many staff and students commute to our institutions and are working with TfL and within current government guidelines to ensure that they can do so safely. London HEIs endeavour to provide facilities for staff and students who are able to use alternative methods of transport to travel to institutions.

In addition to a number of covered bike racks throughout the campus, and at the Teddington Lock sports field, St Mary's has expanded the availability of car parking for students.There will now be a total of 85 student spaces on the Main Campus, which can be booked in advance for a small cost each day.

This is in addition to more parking at 60 Waldegrave Road, the Naylor Library and Teddington Lock site where there are 50 Spaces. This is an expansion of 173 spaces to support those students who are unable to find other means to get to University safely.


9) London HEIs are working to ensure that staff and students are supported in accessing online provisions to enable them to perform to their best abilities and enjoy a richer digital experience and are investing in digital solutions where appropriate.

St Mary's University has provided loan laptops to students and staff and has provided detailed guidance to staff on working remotely and has developed a new flexible working policy that reflects lessons learned during the lockdown and the need for more flexibility in the way staff carry-out their roles in the future, and where they work.

The University has invested in new collaborative learning tools like Panopto and Zoom to support staff in designing a more blended approach to programme delivery, and to enable students to engage with learning materials and resources in more flexible formats. St Mary's will be moving to a blended learning approach for delivery of all programmes in autumn 2020 that embraces face-to-face, and synchronous and asynchronous online elements.


10) London’s HEIs are working to ensure the provision of COVID-19 Secure accommodation for students, including innovative approaches to campus residences across the city and supporting student community building.

St Mary’s accommodation has remained open to students who have needed to stay throughout this period and are currently working to make sure our students coming to live with us in September 2020 feel safe, informed and supported.

Find out more about the Charter