As we move closer to the start of the 2020/2021 academic year, we at the Student Union feel it is important to be as transparent as possible about the likely impact government measures to protect health will have on our activities and services.
Further to the University of Winchester’s announcement on the 2nd of June, outlining their intention to welcome students to a ‘COVID safe’ campus in September, the Student Union wishes to acknowledge the many challenges that we must strive to overcome and adapt to, and what that means to the expectations of our new and returning student members.
Whilst it is not possible to know for certain how the country’s progress through this health crisis will resolve, the staff and elected officers of the Student Union have considered all our activities with the following principle assumptions in mind:
As I’m sure you can imagine, this means that whilst it remains, and always will be, our intention to offer a full range of activities and services, there will be times where this is not possible, or not possible in the way would normally provide it. To that end we have worked with elected officers, staff and students to provide a list of FAQs (with answers, as we currently know them), to help you understand what your Student Union’s operations might look like when the new academic year begins. We will, of course, be responsive to any changes in circumstances, and should restrictions be altered or removed at any point in the academic year, we will ensure that we adapt accordingly and inform you as soon as possible.
Ultimately our aim is to ensure that you are safe and protected from undue risk, while providing as much of the full range of our extra & co-curricular opportunities as is practicable across our Education, Welfare, Activities and Services Zones. We are dedicated to representing and supporting you as students, and ensuring that you have the opportunity to get the absolute most out of your student experience at Winchester.
Student Union President
Q. As a key part of the University experience, what can I expect from events during Freshers?
Under current government guidelines, it is very unlikely that large scale social events will be able to take place in the same way, with reduced capacities and other measures of social distancing expected to protect public health. This means that the Student Union is unlikely to be able to deliver the exciting planned Freshers events programme we had hoped to until such social distancing measure are removed. We are currently looking at alternative options for you during this period and can assure you we will be providing many opportunities for interaction, both virtually and physically. We may also look to re-run planned events, once it is safe to do so.
Q. Will Bop still be on?
For many of the same reason we have outlined about Freshers events above, in the short term at least, the Student Union is unable to be able to host events such as Bop, until social distancing measures are removed, and your safety can be assured.
Q. Will the large events like Halloween, Christmas and Summer Balls still go ahead?
At this stage, it assumed that social distancing will be in place for at least Semester One and that, as such, we shall be unable to run both Halloween and Christmas Balls in their usual format. We shall look at safe, alternate options where possible. The Summer Ball takes place in May 2021, so difficult to say for certain at this stage but we would be following guidelines prevalent at that time and will keep all students up to date as and when we have further details across our website and social media. This will also be the case if restrictions are lifted earlier than expected.
We will still be providing events, but these will have smaller capacities and will be designed to comply with social distancing and other safety measures.
Q. Will there be a Freshers Fayre as normal?
There will be a Freshers Fayre but it will be delivered in a different format to our usual event. We are currently working with all stakeholders to review options and alternate delivery methods, with the priority being that you still have every chance to engage with the many sports, societies, representational networks and other opportunities provided by the Union, University and the wider community.
Q. Will I still have my Student Union job/be able to secure a job with the Student Union in September?
Due to government guidelines we are having to revise our events schedule and shop & bars opening hours, once these are confirmed we will be able to give you advice on your employment with the Union and advise on any opportunities – any such opportunities will appear on our website: www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/jobs.
Q. Will services such as the Terrace Bar be open as normal?
Not as normal but we plan to open as many services as are practicable via adherence to COVID safety measures. This includes the Terrace Bar’s Costa provision.
Q. Will sports fixtures be happening as normal this year?
At this stage, we cannot answer with any clarity as the situation is still developing with BUCS and other league providers. We do note that more localisation is being considered for fixtures and that where practicable it is the intention for sport to go ahead, where it is safe to do so. We will update here, as more information is forthcoming.
Q. Can I still join activity groups (sports, societies and representational networks)? Can I meet with my activity group in September?
There may be more restriction and safety measures in place, and the format of some activity may change but wherever possible all our activity groups will continue to run and will accept memberships from students to participate. Where an activity or group is specifically unable to undertake their usual activity due to government guidelines or safety measures, the Union will work with them to support alternatives.
Throughout July we will be speaking with the leadership teams from all activity groups to work with them to establish any guidelines or restrictions the groups will need to adhere to.
Q. Do I have to pay my annual activity group subscription fee?
Members will still be required to pay any activity group subscription fee (although not all groups have a fee to join) which is decided annually by the Captain or Chair. Depending on the estimated expenditure and predicted activity for the group, subscription fees may be cheaper than normal.
Q. Can I advertise my activity group to new students?
We are recommending that you do not actively start advertising your groups to new and existing students until you have had an opportunity to speak with the Union and submit your plans, risk assessments and budget proposals for the year ahead (which is scheduled for July).
Q. Can we use the University facilities for our activity group?
We are currently working with the University to resolve space and room bookings, but we are expecting that there will be reduced capacities for all indoor spaces and this should be born in mind when planning activity.
Q. How will Captains/Chairs/Wellbeing Rep training be delivered?
We are currently looking at the best way of running training in September. It may be that training is conducted online via Microsoft Teams, although we may be able to run several smaller in-person training support sessions on campus. We are keeping in regular contact with committees and will let them know when we have this finalised.
Q. Will Sports Tour be happening this year? Will there be a Cities Tour (e.g. Amsterdam/Disneyland/Paris)?
Our Tours usually take place in Semester Two, so at this stage we do not have an answer as to whether these will be able to take place or when. We will keep you updated.
Q. Are Colours awards for 2019/2020 still in October/Grad week?
We have taken the decision to move Colours online, as we feel a physical event will not be possible, even if delayed until October. To that end Colours is now scheduled for 26th June, with event details available on our website, www.winchesterstudents.co.uk/events.
Q. Can I still be a StAR (Student Academic Rep)?
Yes, representing students on your course as a StAR will be more important than ever! In September we will be launching our new online student voice platform, ‘Unitu’, which will help students to raise issues and feedback on their course. We have also developed comprehensive online training for our StARs and Student Chairs for those who are shielding, in self-isolation or unable to attend physically. StARs will still be elected across programmes in September/October – you can ask your Programme Leader or the Student Union for more details at the start of the semester.
Q. Can I still access support from the Student Union Advice Centre?
Yes, the Advice Centre has been operating a successful remote service since March 2020, offering online video appointments via Microsoft Teams, telephone appointments and support via email. We will be able to continue to offer an online service as required throughout the year. From September it is likely we will be able to offer face-to-face appointments on an individual basis with social distancing measures in place.
Q. Will there be any way to access items from the Advice Centre Freebie Bin (free condoms, sanitary items, pregnancy tests, panic alarms, drug testing kits) if I'm not on campus?
The Advice Centre Freebie Bin will still be available on campus, but we are currently exploring ways we can offer a local delivery service of these items for students who are not on campus, and/or a postal service of items.
Q. Will Student Recharge Days still happen?
At this stage, we cannot say for certain what our Student Recharge Days will look like, but rest assured we will continue to run Recharge Days (be that on campus, online, or a mixture of both) to help you take a break from studying and focus on your wellbeing.
Q. Will the Student Fellows project still be running?
Whilst the scope and range of the projects possible may change, we are still committed to delivering this scheme. However, we are still awaiting confirmation from the University that funding will still be in place for 20/21 projects and the scheme will be contingent on this.
Due to social distancing it is very likely that we will continue to use Microsoft Teams to conduct our democratic meetings, including elected officer meetings and zone meetings and forums. In many ways meetings via this method is more effective, and convenient to participants.
Q. Can I still get my NUS/Totum card from the Union?
The national student discount card and app will still be available from Totum.com with a range of discounts and leisure options. These cards can be delivered straight to your door.
Q. Will the SU Shop be opening/ normal operating hours?
The King Alfred Quarter shop is currently open 12-4pm Monday to Friday and will remain so throughout the summer. The current plan for Semester One is to open Monday to Friday 8.30am- 7.30pm & Saturday-Sunday Midday-4pm. These opening hours may change, depending on overall campus usage times.
Q. Will the West Downs shop be open?
The future of the West Downs shop is being looked at currently, as we assess what campus users will need from our services.
Q. Can I still expect to see deals and offers in the shop such as the Meal Deal?
NUS are currently working hard on our behalf to ensure we have a strong offering across all shop product ranges, that offer great value for money. While we may have a somewhat reduced range, we will still offer all those great deals you've become used to, including a meal deal.
Q. Will I be able to pre-order my shop for either click and collect or home/halls delivery?
We are looking into the suitability of our product range for both home delivery and click and collect.
Q. Will Laundry services still be on campus?
Yes, all 3 laundry locations will be open, but will be subject to social distancing measures and additional cleaning measures will be in place. Laundries are all currently available, but access to Burma Road is for NHS staff only, until the start of the semester.
Q. Will I still be able to attend graduation?
Graduations are a University managed event and at this time they have not made any statement about graduation, though it is clear they will do all that they can to ensure these important ceremonies go ahead. When any more details are known, we will be sure to share these.