covid testing and leaving campus at the end of term

we're working hard to help students get home this term with our rapid testing offer, safe travel arrangements and support for those staying here over the christmas break.

get tested before you travel

to support you in getting home during the government's student travel window (3–9 december), we've put in place arrangements for you to access free, rapid testing, starting on saturday, 28 november, at one of four sites on our campus. don’t worry about missing teaching  all face-to-face teaching will end on 4 december, however all online teaching will continue as originally planned until 18 december.

use our interactive map to see where all the sites are or use the links below to find a particular site:

these new and quicker tests are delivered by nhs test and trace and are for people without coronavirus symptoms. if you intend to travel home over christmas, we strongly encourage you to take at least one test, but ideally two tests, three days apart. this means that you're reducing the risk of onward transmission while you travel and when you’re at home.

who should get tested?

every foundation, undergraduate and taught postgraduate student currently studying at the university of manchester is eligible to book these tests, as long as they don't have covid-19 symptoms or are a contact and have been advised to self-isolate. you can book a test for after you complete your 14 days self-isolation.

if you’re an international student planning to travel home, you must check your country’s requirements for leaving the uk and entering your home country. these test results may not be sufficient for you to enter.

you don't need to book a test if: 

  • you study remotely;
  • you commute to campus from your family home.

if you're on a placement

while some nhs trusts are providing testing for students on placement, we're aware that not all are. students can still travel to use the university testing service and we are in discussions with nhs partners and the department of health and social care about other ways of getting tested. your school will be in touch.

non-nhs placement students can also use the university booking system.

when should you book your tests?

we're staggering the leaving dates for our students to ensure that you can travel safely through our covid testing programme. we have suggested test dates below and slots are now available to book online (you aren't restricted to these slots):

school/faculty suggested travel date suggested first test date suggested second test date
open pilot testing (limited number of booking slots) 3 dec saturday, 28 nov tuesday, 1 dec
alliance manchester business school 3–4 dec sunday, 29 nov wednesday, 2 dec
school of biological sciences 3–4 dec sunday, 29 nov wednesday, 2 dec
school of environment, education and development 3–4 dec sunday, 29 nov wednesday, 2 dec
school of social sciences 3–4 dec sunday, 29 nov wednesday, 2 dec
school of arts, languages and cultures 4–5 dec monday, 30 nov thursday, 3 dec
school of health sciences 4–5 dec monday, 30 nov thursday, 3 dec
school of medical sciences 5–6 dec tuesday, 1 dec friday, 4 dec
faculty of science and engineering 5–6 dec tuesday, 1 dec friday, 4 dec
postgraduate research students 9–10 dec saturday, 5 dec tuesday, 8 dec

book your tests

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 watch 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

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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 home

we're encouraging you to use private modes of travel where possible and avoid car sharing. 

if you need to use public transport, then please follow all the relevant rules around distancing and face-coverings. there is advice for international students on the government website.

international travel may include the requirement for a private test, so please factor this into your overall travel costs.

we have published updated information on assistance with travel costs for students facing severe and unanticipated hardship.

staying with us over the break

if you're staying here with us over the christmas break, then we're here to support you. our christmas support webpage details the services available to you over the university’s christmas closure period (19 december – 3 january inclusive).

frequently asked questions

testing

why is the university testing students?

all uk universities are working with the uk government to offer voluntary mass covid-19 testing to students before they travel home for the christmas break. students being aware of their covid status and following the relevant guidance should help reduce the risk of transmission to their families, friends and communities when they travel home. the tests are called lateral flow tests or rapid antigen tests.

who can get tested?

every foundation, undergraduate and taught postgraduate student currently studying at the university of manchester is eligible to book these tests, as long as they don't have covid-19 symptoms or are a contact and have been advised to self-isolate. you can book a test for after you complete your 14 days self-isolation.

if you’re a student on an nhs placement – some nhs trusts are providing testing for students, but we’re aware that not all are. you can still travel to use the university testing service and we're in discussions with nhs partners and the department of health and social care about other ways of getting tested. your school will be in touch.

if you're on a non-nhs placement then you can also use the university booking system.

if you're a student who studies remotely or commutes to campus from your family home, you don’t need to take a test. 

if you’re an international student planning to travel home, you must check your country’s requirements for leaving the uk and entering your home country. these test results may not be sufficient for you to enter.

this is a voluntary test, free of charge for our students. it is not a pcr test. it is a rapid antigen test using a lateral flow device. most test results will be sent to you within 24 hours.

i live at home. do i need to get tested?

no. this testing programme is intended for students who are leaving university for the holidays and travelling to another location.

i'm staying in manchester over the christmas break – do i need to get a test?

if you're remaining in your term-time accommodation during the break, you don't need to get tested. the testing is intended for students who plan to travel home.

should i get tested if i have symptoms?

if you have symptoms, you should not attend a university test centre as you’ll be turned away. you should instead book a 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 may have built immunity. providing you no longer have symptoms and you are no longer self-isolating, you can book to have one of our antigen tests to see if you may have a new infection.

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.

can postgraduate researchers get tested?

postgraduate researchers can continue to work on campus until 18 december. however, if you want to take a test in order to facilitate leaving earlier, we recommend you book in the slot we suggest in the table above. we anticipate that postgraduate researchers and others will also be able to take part in the greater manchester mass-testing programme shortly.

do i have to take a test?

these tests are not compulsory but we strongly recommend that you take them. with so many people travelling at one time, 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?

you should take two tests, three days apart. in the table above we've suggested test dates based on which school you're in and for postgraduate research students. there is also a pilot session available at the start of the testing period, which has limited booking capacity.

can i choose which testing site i go to?

the university has set up four testing sites: sackville street building, university place and two at our fallowfield residences. you can choose which site to go to for your test when you book; this is, however, subject to availability.

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

you can book your own tests at any of our four testing sites on campus. please note the features below before making your choice:  

  • the university place testing site is wheelchair accessible and has nearby accessible car parking – if you require either of these, make sure to choose this site when booking your test.
  • if you wish to drive and park at university place, contact our car parking office (carparking@manchester.ac.uk) and they will arrange this with you.
  • assisted testing is available at all the testing sites for anyone who requires support to administer their own tests.
  • private testing spaces are available at all the sites for any student to use.
  • assistance dogs are also permitted within all the sites, as usual.

if you have any questions or require any additional support you can also speak the disability advisory and support service.

how will i get my results and how long does it take?

the tests results are being managed by nhs test and trace. you’ll receive your results by text or email, depending on which details you provide when booking the tests. the university does not issue negative or positive certificates.

we have been advised that in most cases you should get the result within 48 hours of taking the test. if you have not received your results after 48 hours, please call 119.

if your tests are both negative and you wish to travel, you should do this within 24 hours of receiving the last test result. please be aware of the time it may take to get your results when making travel arrangements.

i have tested negative on the rapid antigen test. what should i do?

most important is that you follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. remember that if you are symptomatic, you must not attend for a rapid antigen test and should arrange for an rt-pcr test using the nhs test and trace and isolate immediately.

our rapid antigen test and travel flowchart (pdf, 425kb) explains what to do when you get your test results. 

if both your tests are negative and none of your close contacts test positive or have symptoms, you may travel home. you don't need to self-isolate.

if both your rapid antigen tests are negative but one of your close contacts tests positive, you can still travel home so long as you isolate when you get there.

i have tested positive on the rapid antigen test. what should i do?

please follow the advice given to you with your test result. remember that if you are symptomatic, you must not attend for a rapid antigen test and should arrange for an rt-pcr test using the nhs test and trace and isolate immediately.

our rapid antigen test and travel flowchart (pdf, 425kb) explains what to do when you get your test results. 

if your first rapid antigen test is positive

please self-isolate for ten days from the date of your test and advise your household/close contacts that they are required to self-isolate for 14 days, pending your pcr results, but can still travel home and complete their self-isolation period.

if your pcr is then negative, you no longer need to self-isolate and can arrange to go home as soon as possible.

if your pcr is positive, continue to self-isolate for ten days from your first rapid antigen test.

nhs test and trace will phone you to complete contact tracing. please advise nhs test and trace of the date of your positive rapid antigen test as the starting date for your self-isolation period and the self-isolation period of your household/close contacts. please provide details of all your household/close contacts to nhs test and trace so they can be followed up for contact tracing.

most important is that you follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. do not attend a second rapid antigen test at a university site; cancel your second test. instead arrange a confirmation test via nhs test and trace. please use our form to let us know and take a look at our guidance and support.

if your second rapid antigen test is positive

please self-isolate for ten days from the date of your second test and advise your household/close contacts that they are required to self-isolate for 14 days, pending your pcr results, but can still travel home and complete their self-isolation period. please arrange a confirmation test via nhs test and trace.

if the nhs rt-pcr test is negative, you don't need to self-isolate and you may travel.

if the nhs rt-pcr test is positive, self-isolate for ten days from the date of your rapid antigen positive test.

nhs test and trace will phone you to complete contact tracing. please advise nhs test and trace of the date of your positive rapid antigen test as the starting date for your self-isolation period and the self-isolation period of your household/close contacts. please provide details of all your household/close contacts to nhs test and trace so they can be followed up for contact tracing.

most important is that you follow the instructions sent to you via email/text when you get your test results. do not attend a second rapid antigen test at a university site; cancel your second test. instead arrange a confirmation test via nhs test and trace. please use our form to let us know and take a look at our guidance and support.

supporting you

our student support services are here if you're feeling anxious about your test results.

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.

who will administer the tests?

the tests are being run by trained staff under the supervision of clinically qualified university staff. first-aiders will be present at all sites. if you have any concerns about performing the swab, they will be able to help you.

i haven't received my booking confirmation. what should i do?

you should receive a confirmation email for each booking. if you do not receive confirmation within 24 hours, please firstly check your junk mail folder. should the message not appear there, please contact the helpline using the details on our contact us page.

travelling

when can i travel home?

if your tests are negative and you wish to travel, you should do this within 24 hours after receiving your second negative result. 

if you live in university halls of residence, you will be contacted directly about leaving and pick-up arrangements at your particular accommodation.

should i book travel before i book my tests?

we suggest, where possible, that your travel arrangements are flexible, to accommodate the different actions you may have to take depending on your test results.

i’m planning to travel to another country. is there anything i need to know?

if you're planning international travel, your destination country may require you to take a different type of test, such as a pcr test, before you travel. you must check this before you travel. these tests aren't provided by the university and may have an additional cost. there are many companies offering this service – among the local ones are epistem, pall mall and healthwork.

we have published updated information on assistance with travel costs for students facing severe and unanticipated hardship.

i've already booked travel but it’s outside my window / i’ve tested positive and have to self-isolate – what should i do?

if you test positive, you're required by law to self-isolate and not travel. please see the information above about what to do if you test positive. 

if your test results permit you to travel, we ask where possible that you do this within the travel window for your school. if this isn't possible you may travel outside your window, but please follow all the relevant rules around distancing and face-coverings. 

international travel may include the requirement for a private test, so please factor this into your overall travel costs.

we have published updated information on assistance with travel costs for students facing severe and unanticipated hardship.

there is detailed information on the government website regarding travel, including the new announcement around the suspension of admin fees for students travelling by train.

can i travel by public transport?

there is detailed information on the government website regarding travel. 

travel by train

the government has announced that students who had already booked train tickets to travel home for christmas can now rebook their tickets to travel between 3 to 9 december, without paying additional fees

travel by coach

we’ve organised one coach each day from 3- 7 december from fallowfield to london, birmingham, edinburgh, cardiff and liverpool airport. you can book your seat using the neon platform.

i’m on a clinical, industry or other placement. does this end on 9 december and do i have to go home in the travel window?

some nhs trusts are providing testing for students, but we’re aware that not all are. you can still travel to use the university testing service and we’re in discussions with nhs partners and the department of health and social care about other ways of getting tested. your school will be in touch. non-nhs placement students can also use the university booking system.

i'm a postgraduate researcher wanting to work on campus until 18 december. do i have to travel?

no, the travel window is designed for taught students. we have, however, set aside a suggested time for you to take your tests if you want to leave earlier (see the table above). you may also be able to take advantage of the greater manchester mass asymptomatic testing programme, which is due to be confirmed shortly.

i'm planning to travel after the student travel window, what do i need to know?

the student travel window is 3 –9 december, but we know some of you are required to remain on campus by your programme or for other reasons so when you do travel home, please follow all the relevant rules around distancing and face coverings (hands, face, space).

the advice is to travel within 24 hours of receiving two negative test results and we're working with your programmes to develop specific guidance for you so we can provide the same tests, either via the nhs or manchester city council’s testing programme. 

please be aware that government guidance states that anyone who remains at university after 9 december will run the risk of having to undertake a period of isolation of 10 or 14 days at university if they contracted covid-19 or were identified as a contact of someone who had. you would therefore be at risk of not being able to travel home for 25 december.

i’m staying on campus over the christmas break. is there support available for me?

if you're staying here with us over the christmas break, then we're here to support you. our christmas support webpage details the services available to you over the university’s christmas closure period (19 december – 3 january inclusive).

what are the arrangement for returning after christmas and plans for semester 2? will students be tested when they return to campus?

we recently wrote to all students with information about our aims for semester 2. the government is yet to announce how they will manage students’ return to campus and whether this will involve mass testing. we will update you as soon as we can.

will i miss teaching by going home during the travel window?

the dates for travel for each school have been agreed based on whether most students currently have face-to-face, on-campus teaching, so if you travel on the suggested dates you should be able to attend any remaining sessions. in a small number of cases, the travel dates for your programme will be different from the rest of your school, to allow you to attend face-to-face, on-campus sessions – if this applies to you, your programme team will contact you directly. all face-to-face, on-campus teaching will stop at the end of friday, 4 december.

if you have synchronous (live) online teaching on the dates suggested for travel, please try to attend the sessions and perhaps travel earlier or later in the day. your school or programme team will be in touch if there are any changes to teaching and assessment dates because of the government guidance on safe travel. online teaching will continue until the originally planned date of friday, 18 december.

i'm picking up a student to transport them home. can i book a hotel?

if you are a parent or someone helping a student to leave and are booking a hotel, then please be aware that greater manchester is in tier 3 restrictions. please check with your hotel.

the hyatt on the university campus is accepting bookings – please email assumpta.mcdonald@hyatt.com.

contact us

a phone line and live chat are available from wednesday, 25 november to wednesday, 9 december inclusive, including weekends. they will be open between 9am and 5pm. we won’t be able to offer medical advice but we can help with questions about testing and travel.

access the phone number and live chat on our contact us page.