Support for students over the winter break

22 December 2021

As we gear up for the festive break, Russell Group universities have been supporting students to return home safely and preparing a range of services and activities for those remaining at university over the Christmas period.

Over the past few weeks, Russell Group universities have provided support to ensure students returning home for the Christmas period can do so safely, with pre-departure Covid-19 testing alongside booster vaccinations, including support for the Government’s Get Boosted Now appeal.

However, many students, including some international students or care leavers, stay in term time accommodation over Christmas, and universities are working hard to make sure they are fully supported over the holidays. As well as social activities and support services, this includes additional provision for individuals required to self-isolate as part of Covid-19 measures. An indication of the range of support available to those remaining in term time accommodation over the winter break can be found below:

  • Universities are facilitating a range of activities to provide opportunities for social interaction and help alleviate isolation. Queen Mary University of London is delivering art courses and wellbeing workshops, as well as a Facebook group to help those staying in London meet each other and make plans over the festive period. Similarly, the University of Nottingham has set up a Winter Vacation Buddies Group on Microsoft Teams where all university students can meet new friends and socialise online over the winter vacation. They will be hosting online video chats, quizzes, discussions, and other activities. The University of Edinburgh is running PairED-Up for its second year from 24 December to 4 January, enabling students and staff to build peer relationships by participating in an activity such as a walk, meeting for a hot drink, a run or cycle to create a sense of community for students and staff over the break. Newcastle University is hosting a variety of online and in-person events such as festive crafting, trips around the region, and sports sessions. In addition, the University is supporting Go Volunteer, which offers students with spare time over the break volunteering opportunities such as helping out at wellbeing days and supporting festive activities. 
  • Universities are also providing ongoing practical support for those in university-owned accommodation. For example, the University of Birmingham is providing senior accommodation management and Security on call 24/7 for up to 1,000 students staying over the break, and some catering operations are also remaining open. At the University of Manchester, all halls of residence will remain open and staff will be available to help students 24/7 throughout the break. 
  • Support is being offered to students who need to self-isolate away from home over the Christmas period. For instance, the University of Sheffield is providing welfare check ups and financial assistance to students who need to self-isolate away from home. The University is also providing emergency support for any students self-isolating in Sheffield that require it, such as those with no food and unable to book a food delivery over the holiday. 
  • More broadly, wellbeing and support services as well as wider campus facilities continue to be available to students. For instance, at Durham University, high-quality student support services remain available to the entire student body throughout the break, both at their term time and home address, including the University’s counselling and mental health service. At the University of Southampton the sports centre, swimming pool and library are open throughout the break, and the Student Hub will also remain open, providing 24/7 wellbeing support to those students who require it.
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