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Whether it’s your first time here or you’re returning after spending time at home, we’re here to make sure your arrival is as easy as possible. Studying at St Mary’s is a fun and rewarding experience – this year will be too.

The International Department is a good source of information. If you’re ever not sure about anything or if you need a bit of extra support, please get in touch with us by emailing international@stmarys.ac.uk. If you’re a new student coming to London for the first time this spring, we can give you some advice to help you get settled. Social events are a little different this year, but we recommend that you look out for virtual and in-person activities organised by the Students’ Union. They’re a great way to connect with friends.

Who needs to quarantine and where do they do it?

Everyone arriving in England from outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man needs to quarantine for 10 days. Travellers from certain countries (known as the ‘red list’) need to do this in a hotel they book through an official website. If you’re quarantining in a hotel, transport, meals and in-country coronavirus tests will be included in the package you book. If you’re quarantining in your own accommodation, you should avoid taking public transport to get there if at all possible. Please email international@stmarys.ac.uk if you need support with your travel arrangements.

You can quarantine on campus if you have an accommodation contract this year and you don’t have to quarantine in a hotel. Please make sure to confirm your needs with our Accommodation Service well before you arrive, so that they can arrange meal deliveries and other support.

If you’ll be living in private accommodation and you need to quarantine, please get in touch with your landlord or accommodation manager to confirm your arrival date and quarantine arrangements. Remember to let us know if you need help travelling to your accommodation without using public transport.

Wherever you’re quarantining, we’ll be there if you need anything. If you have any questions, just ask.

Can my family visit me?

We understand that your loved ones may want to come to London to see you during your studies. This is difficult with quarantine and testing requirements in place, so we recommend that you keep in touch online instead. If you do have any visitors and you’re living on campus, please remember that you’re not allowed overnight guests in halls.

I'm new to St Mary's. When should I arrive?

We know that some students may have started teaching but not been able to travel to London yet. Please keep in touch with the International Department and your Programme Director about your travel plans. When you book your travel, think about how you can access teaching and online University resources during your quarantine period.

We’ve heard that some students are experiencing visa delays and problems with flights this year. Don’t worry if you’re in this position, but please do let us know. We can give you some helpful advice.

More quarantine information

Quarantining may sound scary, but it just means that you’ll need to stay at home or in a hotel for the first ten days after you arrive to limit the possible spread of the coronavirus. All passengers need to quarantine unless they’re arriving from the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. This requirement is based on residence, not nationality, so even UK citizens have to quarantine when returning from abroad. 

The UK Government has comprehensive guidelines for people quarantining in their own accommodation (they call it self-isolation). The guidelines say that you can’t leave your accommodation for anything other than an emergency, or to get food or medicine if there’s no way to have them delivered. You can’t have visitors while you’re quarantining, but you can quarantine as a shared household with other international travellers moving in on the same day as you. It’s also OK to live with friends or family while you’re quarantining, as long as you take care to separate yourself from others as much as possible. You should also pay special attention to your health and follow NHS guidelines and the information on SIMMSpace if you feel unwell.

There’s some different guidance for people who need to quarantine in a hotel after they arrive. If this applies to you, be sure to follow the Government’s guidelines. Wherever you’re quarantining, please remember that you can ask us if you have any questions or need support.

What are my testing requirements?

All international arrivals to London, including UK citizens, have to take three tests:

  1. A negative coronavirus test taken less than 72 hours before you travel. You will need to present your negative test result to your travel provider along with confirmation that you’ve completed a Passenger Locator Form.
  2. If you’re quarantining in your own accommodation, you need to book a testing package before you travel. This includes two home testing kits, one for your second day in the country and one for your eighth day in the country. Include the booking reference number for your testing package on your Passenger Locator Form. You can finish quarantining when you’ve completed 10 days of self-isolation and both tests have come back negative.
  3. If you need to quarantine in a hotel, the package you book will include tests for you to take on your second and eighth days in the country. Include the booking reference number for your hotel package on your Passenger Locator Form. You can finish quarantining when you’ve completed 10 days of self-isolation and both tests have come back negative.

As well as tracking your coronavirus tests, the Passenger Locator Form you’ll complete 48 hours before you travel asks for your address in the UK. The Government may visit you during your quarantine period to make sure you’re staying at the address you provided. You can be fined if you don’t comply with any quarantine or testing requirements. The fines involved range from £1,000 - £10,000, and failing to comply with hotel quarantine requirements can even result in prosecution, so please make sure to follow the rules! 

The UK also has a Test to Release programme, which allows new arrivals to take a private coronavirus test after their fifth day in the country and end their quarantine period early if it’s negative. Unfortunately, Test to Release isn’t an option for travellers from red list countries. Please note that you still have to take all of the other tests mentioned above even if you participate in the Test to Release programme, so you will take four tests in total.

What should I do now?

If you’re living on campus, you need to make quarantine arrangements well in advance by contacting our Accommodation team. Only students who are living at St Mary’s for the full year can quarantine on campus, and only certain rooms are suitable for quarantining, so they need to make a lot of arrangements before they can confirm your room. 

If you’re renting private housing or living in a private hall of residence, please check with your management company or landlord to make sure your accommodation is suitable for quarantining and ask what support they can provide. Some students who haven’t been able to quarantine in their permanent accommodation have told us they’ve stayed in hotels or in an Airbnb.

If you’re from a red list country, please book your hotel quarantine package as soon as possible. Wherever you’re quarantining, if you have questions or need help, please contact international@stmarys.ac.uk for assistance.

How should I take care of my daily needs while quarantining?

If you’re living on campus, our catering team will deliver your meals from our Refectory. If you’re living in private housing, most supermarkets, including TescoSainsbury'sAsda and Iceland, have delivery services. You can also get supplies from online stores like Amazon. Many local restaurants have delivery services, and apps like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are another great way to get a varied diet. 

When you’re packing, bring enough toiletries to last you for 10 days. It’s also really important that you pack an adapter that works in UK sockets, because you’ll need to charge your devices and you won’t be able to leave your accommodation to buy one. You may have access to a washing machine or laundry services if you’re quarantining in private housing or a hotel, but students living on campus should bring enough clean clothes to last through their quarantine period. You’ll be able to use the Washeteria, our on-campus laundrette, once you’re done quarantining. Students who have already been through it recommend that you bring snacks, downloaded movies, and lots of reading material.

How can I make the best of this situation?

We know that quarantining is a strange way to start your time in the UK. Remember that you’re not alone - international students all over the world are experiencing similar challenges, and lots of St Mary’s students will be quarantining too.

Keeping busy can help the time go quickly. While you’re self-isolating, remember to keep a daily routine, get some exercise (we love the Body Coach!) and stay connected to friends and family. St Mary’s offers excellent mental health support at a distance from Togetherall and our Wellbeing team. If you have any special concerns, or if you will need extra support while you quarantine, please email the International team.