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International Applicant Coronavirus FAQs

We've put together the answers to some of the most common questions from our international community.

We've broken the questions down into categories to help you find any answers relevant to yo

Arrangements for starting at St Mary’s in September

The safety of students and staff is our top priority

You’re probably wondering what effect the coronavirus pandemic will have on your university experience, so I am writing to try and provide you with a little more certainty in these unsettling times. I hope the following will help to reassure you.

Do make time to read the detail but here are the top 5 takeaways:

  • We will put the safety of our students and staff first in accordance with the latest Government guidance.
  • Our aim is to provide you with a student experience that is as close to normal as possible.
  • We intend to deliver as much of our teaching in-person where we can, only using online when we must and where it can enhance your learning.
  • Our student accommodation will be open and managed in line with current best ‘Covid-safety’ practice.

This letter reflects our planning in terms of what we know now. Understandably, we could be required to change our plans in response to future government guidance but we’ll keep you regularly updated.

Your final qualifications, transcripts and certificates

We are aware that many international applicants may have had their exams cancelled.

We understand from exam boards, that for applicants taking qualifications awarded by UK exam boards (such as IGCSEs or I A-levels), they will be awarding grades in the same way as for the UK students. If you have any questions about this, please check with your school, college or exam board. When results are released in the summer, you will to need to send us a copy of your final results.

For applicants taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) we know that IB will be awarding diplomas and course certificates as usual in the summer, which we will use to confirm your place at St Mary’s. Once the results are released, you can choose to share your results directly with St Mary’s or send us a copy when you receive them. The IB website has further information about how the IB results will be calculated. 

We also want to assure you that we are here to support applicants taking a local qualification, for example your home country’s high school or leaving qualification or a university degree. Please be assured that we will do everything possible to ensure your application to study at St Mary’s is not disadvantaged by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Our International Team, including admissions and our international advisors are committed to making sure we give you the latest information as it becomes available. If you have any queries, please feel free to email us.

English Language Qualifications

St Mary’s accepts a range of English Language qualifications for entry to our programmes including the following English Language qualifications, which can be taken online:

  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • Duolingo Online English test, which can be taken anywhere in the world with results available within 48 hours
  • IELTS Indicator, which can be taken from home with results within 7 days

Furthermore, Pearson PTE and IELTS are still operating in some countries or are beginning to reopen centres for in-person testing. Please check their websites for updates.

For some countries we can accept the English you have studied in your High School qualification or in your degree. If you have taken English at High School or University, please contact apply@stmarys.ac.uk and we will confirm if you are eligible for an English Language waiver.

I’m due to start a pre-sessional English course but can't come to the UK in time, what should I do?

Please don’t worry if you’re not able to travel to the UK to start your pre-sessional English course. This course will begin online, so you can study wherever you are in the world. We hope to begin teaching the course on campus in August and we will support you with this transition. You will also be able to continue the course online if you can’t travel to the UK.

If you have any specific queries about your pre-sessional English course, please contact us by email.

Arrangements for starting at St Mary’s in September

Undergraduate students

The first day of teaching will be 28th September 2020, so you will not need to be on campus until then. You can view our term dates here. How the academic year starts will, of course, depend on UK Government and public health guidance at the time.

We will provide you with what you need to get started via our online induction week programme beginning 21st September and we’ll send you more details about this soon. You’ll also receive enrolment details from us prior to arrival and we’re adapting our usual processes so that you can enroll online in August.

Postgraduate students

Most of our taught postgraduate programmes will begin teaching on Monday 5th October 2020. We will provide our postgraduate students with an online induction starting Monday 28th September 2020. This will include a range of activities to ensure you have all the information required to transition into your studies effectively.  You’ll also receive enrolment details from us prior to arrival and we’re adapting our usual processes so that you can enroll online in August.

Some of our taught postgraduate programmes, however, start earlier than 5th October for course-specific reasons. If your postgraduate programme starts earlier than 5th October, your course team will ensure that you receive a programme-specific induction that aligns with the earlier start date. To check the start date for your programme please visit the 'alternative start dates' section on our term dates webpage.

Delayed arrival for international students

We are investigating whether it may be possible for students that are not able to travel in time for the start of term, due to travel restrictions or access to visa centres, to begin their course online and then transition on to campus at St Mary’s after a few weeks.  We will update you as soon as we have more information regarding the possibility of delayed on-campus starts for those not able to travel for the beginning of term.

When will you be issuing Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to students who need a visa to study in the UK?

We will start to issue CAS from the 29th June for countries where UK visa centres are open. Unfortunately, some visa processing centres are still closed. We will issue CAS for those countries when the reopening dates of those visa centres are announced.

I want to pay my tuition fee deposit. Will I get a refund if I can’t start my course due to COVID-19?

If you are unable to travel to the UK for your course due to travel restrictions related to Coronavirus, then a refund of your tuition fee deposit will be issued.

What will teaching be like?

So long as the national situation in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic continues to improve, we expect to be able to teach you on campus by the start of the term and only online, where necessary, to keep you safe or to assist your learning.

A benefit of being a smaller university is that for most subject areas we have fewer students per class than other universities. We hope that this will enable us to still teach most classes face-to-face. To enhance your learning experience and facilitate social distancing, though, we will also be filming lectures in real time and will stream them online to students who are unable to attend in person. This ‘lecture capture’ technology means that you will also be able watch them on ‘playback’ – a great thing when you’re trying to remember an important point that you may not have captured in your notes.

Will the Library and learning facilities be open?

We will ensure you can still benefit from access to all the learning resources and, where safely possible, specialist equipment spaces. Our library will be open and you will have access to extensive online learning resources including journals, articles and books. Our computer suites will also be open and we will be putting in place protective equipment to ensure safe use of these spaces.

Can I still live in a room on campus?

Undergraduates

Yes, our Halls of Residence will be open. The application portal for university accommodation is now open and all applicants who have made St Mary’s their firm choice will receive an email invitation to apply for a room in halls. The deadline for applying for guaranteed accommodation is 30th June and rooms will be allocated in August.

Postgraduates

Yes, all postgraduate students who have accepted their offer of a place at St Mary’s can apply for accommodation. You're advised to apply as soon as possible in order to secure a room.  Our postgraduate accommodation is available at Grosvenor Apartments. Conveniently located in central Twickenham, Grosvenor Apartments are in easy access to a range of shopping and conveniences and within walking distance of St Mary's University. 

Our Accommodation Services can also help you with finding private rented accommodation in the local area or a Homestay – living with a local family.

Quarantine - when I travel to the UK to start my course, will I need to self-isolate?

From 8 June 2020, most people entering the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Please visit the Home Office website and for further information. We do not know now how long these rules will remain. Please take quarantine requirements into account before you travel to the UK. We will keep you informed with any updates, but if you have any questions about when you should plan to arrive, please email us.

Students who have secured a room in our Halls of Residence, and are able to arrive by a certain date, will be able to self-isolate on campus.  We will send you more information about these arrangements.

What are you doing to make the campus safe?

We are introducing the following measures to keep our campus as ‘Covid-secure’ as possible:

  • An enhanced cleaning regime along with the installation of facilities such as outdoor sinks, as well as easy access to hand sanitisers and wipes for computer equipment, desks and other frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Our eating areas will be regularly cleaned, equipped with sneeze screens, social distancing provision, a click and collect service and hand sanitiser to ensure students have the safest experience during their visit.
  • Careful management of the timetable, making full use of the teaching day, to minimise ‘peak density’ on campus.
  • Physical distancing within our campus, including increasing the distance between study spaces in such facilities as the Library
  • One-way circulation within buildings, wherever possible and appropriate.
  • The creation of more cycle hoops and car parking spaces.

Additionally, our student services will be operating at full capacity even if some of the support they offer needs to be virtual.  We will be considering your welfare in all we do, to support you in still being able to get the best student experience you can. After all, you’ve been planning to come and study with us for some time and we still want you to benefit, as much as possible, from everything we have to offer at St Mary’s.

How can I travel to campus?

If you plan to travel into to St Mary’s campus each day, take a look at commuting student pages to explore travel options. If you prefer not to use public transport, we do encourage our commuting students to walk or cycle where they can and there are plenty of bike racks for cyclists.

How safe is it in Twickenham, the part of London where St Mary’s is located?

We’re in a green part of London, with many parks and open spaces in addition to our own spacious campus. So you’ll be able to stay away from crowds when you choose, as well as being able to enjoy the energy of central London (30 minutes away by train) when you like.

Regionally, London currently has one of the lowest number of Coronavirus cases and our borough, Richmond, currently has the second lowest number of cases in London.  The Richmond Council website offers information with up-to-date public health advice and guidance on Coronavirus for those who live, work and study in Richmond.

When will I get some information about my programme?

Our Programme Directors and course teams are working on programme-specific information that will help you to prepare for starting your studies. Information about your programme will be added to the dedicated Welcome area of our website over the next few weeks.  If you’d like the opportunity to talk with or chat online with an academic from your course, please follow this link if you’re an undergraduate student or this link if you’re a postgraduate student.  You can let us know your preferred way of being contacted and we’ll be in touch.

Also, you can speak to current students and other applicants on the following channels: 

Keeping in touch

We’re here to support you in starting your university life and will write to you again as we develop more detail about starting with us in September.

We’ll keep you updated regularly via email as more Government advice determines how universities open up to operate safely and in the best interests of their students.

With warmest regards

Anthony McClaran
Vice-Chancellor
St Mary’s University Twickenham

If you have any questions or concerns then please email us at international@stmarys.ac.uk.

Can I still apply for a course at St Mary’s?

Yes, we are still accepting applications for most courses. We've put together a step-by-step guide to the application process that you may find helpful.

Can I speak to an academic about my course?

We are organising online alternatives to our open events and you can see the full schedule of online information sessions on our webinar page. More sessions will be added in the coming weeks, but you can also find contact details for our academics on each of our course pages.

Are Open Days still happening?

All University-run events, including our Open Days, have been postponed. We are working on an exciting range of digital St Mary’s experiences that we will be sharing with you soon. Keep an eye on your inbox and our website for further information in the coming weeks.

Are there any events where I can find out more about your PGCE courses?

All of our on campus open events have been postponed, but we are offering a schedule of online information sessions which will allow you to speak to our Tutors about our PGCE programmes.

My planned IELTS exam has been cancelled. What other English language qualifications will St Mary’s accept?

We are now accepting IELTS Indicator, which is an IELTS test that you can take from home. We also accept a range of other English qualifications. Please contact apply@stmarys.ac.uk if you have any questions about your English qualifications.

Can you offer an alternative English test?

We would be happy to facilitate an approved English test for you. Please contact the St Mary’s representative for your region or email apply@stmarys.ac.uk to arrange this.

What should I do if the results of my current programme are delayed due to COVID-19?

We understand that COVID-19 will delay results for many students. We encourage you to apply anyway, so that we can start to evaluate your application as soon as possible. We will then work with you to meet the conditions of your offer as you get your results.

Will St Mary’s take the effects of COVID-19 into account when evaluating my results?

We’re aware that despite their best efforts, many students have experienced disruption to their studies this year. We’ll be as flexible as we can when considering your application.

Can I defer my offer to a future date?

We understand that due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, some students may need to start their courses later than they originally planned. Many of our postgraduate programmes also have January start dates, so that may be an option for you. Students on most of our programmes can also choose to defer their start date until September 2021.

Because your situation may change in the coming weeks, we ask that you take some time to consider your decision before you defer your start date. Please contact us at apply@stmarys.ac.uk with questions about deferring your offer.

What financial support is available for international students?

We’re pleased to be able to offer international student scholarships for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. You will automatically be considered for a scholarship when you apply.

I’ve been awarded an international scholarship. Can I carry it forward if I defer the start of my course to a later date?

Unfortunately, it may not be possible for scholarship recipients to defer their awards if they delay their start date.

Can I take a pre-sessional English course at St Mary’s?

Our pre-sessional English courses are running as planned. However, the first part of the course is expected to be delivered online. You will need to have a laptop and internet connection to join the course. Please let us know that you would like to be considered for a pre-sessional course by sending an email to apply@stmarys.ac.uk. You should already have taken an English proficiency test, normally IELTS or IELTS Indicator. If you are qualified for the course, we will offer you a place and advise you on the next steps.

What it the latest date I can start my programme?

Our current policy is that the latest date you can start your course is two weeks after it begins. Please note that start dates are subject to change. We advise you to monitor the university’s website for updates nearer the time. We will also e-mail all offer holders if such a change is made. The current term dates can be found on this website.

If your travel to the UK is disrupted due to COVID-19 or if the first part of your lessons is delivered online, we will inform you of the new latest start date in advance.

Will St Mary’s refund international deposit payments if students are unable to start their course due to COVID-19?

In the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, an applicant who pays a tuition fee deposit on or before 31st August 2020 is entitled to a full refund of that deposit if he/she cannot come to study in the UK, and take their place at St Mary's, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The refund request must be submitted in writing before 30th September 2020. This full refund entitlement excludes students that breach UKVI regulations. Details of refunds requested for reasons other than COVID-19 can be found in the student funding section of this website.

I’m worried that I may not be able to meet my deposit deadline. Is there any flexibility?

We encourage students to pay their deposits as early as possible, as this is one of the conditions that must be met before you can get the CAS you need to apply for your visa. If you need to request an extension, however, please contact us at apply@stmarys.ac.uk.

Will I be charged if I need to cancel my place in a St Mary’s hall of residence?

We will ask you to pay a £250 deposit when you secure your accommodation. £50 of that is a non-refundable administration fee, but we will refund the £200 damage deposit to you if you need to cancel your place before you move in.

What will teaching at St Mary’s be like in 2020/21?

We are currently investigating ways to give our students the best experience possible in 2020/21. To deliver courses safely, we may consider options such as smaller class sizes and the supplementary use of online teaching. Our decisions will be guided by the evolving advice from Public Health England and the UK Government.

How do I apply for accommodation?

Our Accommodation team will email offer holders when our accommodation application opens and will also post details of the process on the Accommodation portal. When you’re offered accommodation, you’ll get a detailed licence agreement with information about occupancy dates and applicable refund policies.

What requirements do I need to meet to get my CAS?

You will be eligible for a CAS when your offer has been made unconditional. Please check our visa information for the criteria our Admissions team will consider when making your offer unconditional.

The UK visa processing centre(s) in my country are closed. What should I do?

Please continue to check for updates on when visa services in your country will resume. We may be able to extend the latest day of enrolment for students experiencing visa problems. However, this will be on a case-by-case basis. We are prepared to make a reasonable adjustment for students that are affected by COVID-19 closures.

I need to apply to extend my current Tier 4 visa. Can I do that in the UK?

Please check the Government’s guidance on who is eligible to renew their visas in the UK. This site also gives you an overview of the process.

Will students beginning their studies in the UK in September 2020 still be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa?

The return of a post-study work visa was announced in September 2019 with further information to be provided. As the UK Government releases further information, it will be included on reliable online sources like UKCISA.

How will St Mary’s ensure student safety on campus?

The safety of our students is our top priority. We are considering a range of options to protect you as we all adjust to our ‘new normal’. Our decisions will be led by advice from the UK Government and Public Health England, and we may consider options such as smaller class sizes and increased use of online resources. We’re lucky that our green, leafy campus (which happens to be in the safest part of London) gives everyone plenty of room to spread out and socially distance.

What health services can St Mary’s students access?

St Mary’s has a Health Centre on campus that offers a nurse-led health service on weekdays during term-time. The Health Centre is a branch of the York Medical Practice in Twickenham, which students are also welcome to use if necessary. If you won’t be living on or near campus, you can choose to register with a doctor in your neighbourhood instead. Kingston Hospital, West Middlesex Hospital and the urgent care centre at Teddington Memorial Hospital are also within easy reach of campus.

All of the services listed above are run by the National Health Service (NHS). If you are coming to the UK on a Tier 4 visa and staying for six months or longer, you will be asked to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of your visa application. You will then be able to access the NHS in the same way as a UK permanent resident. You are also currently able to access the NHS with a European Health Insurance Card from your home country. If you don’t have to pay the health surcharge because, for example, you’ll be in the UK for less than six months, you will be charged for most non-emergency health services. You should make sure you have private health insurance in place before you arrive in the country. UKCISA is an excellent source of advice about healthcare in the UK.

What mental health support is available to students to help them deal with the effects of COVID-19?

Our experienced Wellbeing Team offers both mental health advice and counselling support to students. St Mary’s students can also access mental health support online at any time through the Big White Wall.

How could my arrival to the UK be impacted by COVID-19?

We’re planning to welcome students to our beautiful campus to begin their courses this autumn. Because the situation is evolving quickly, however, it’s difficult to know what restrictions may be in place at that time. As an institution, we’ll follow the latest advice from the UK Government and Public Health England when planning arrival procedures for our international students. These will accommodate any possible requirements that new arrivals to the UK should self-isolate for a period of time. We’ll update our preparing for university pages as our plans are finalised, and we’ll also contact offer holders directly to keep you informed.

What kind of orientation will international students have?

We know that coming overseas to start your degree can be a big adjustment, and we will support you with a range of orientation activities. Many of these will be available online. Please check our preparing for university pages for the latest orientation information.

If you can't find the answer to your question on this page please email international@stmarys.ac.uk.